Just like there are lots of bad sales reps, there are also bad sales managers. I speak from experience because in my sales career I had lots of awesome managers – and a few real bad ones. You end up with a bad manager one of two ways:
1) You begin a new position in your company or elsewhere and the person you heard would be a good boss is not one after all.
2) You have your current position but your great boss gets promoted or moves on and he or she is replaced with the boss from Hell.
The number one reason someone quits a company is because of his or her direct supervisor.
I remember working for a sales manager who took sole credit for a big deal I identified, prospected and closed. He also took credit for some of my ideas as his own.
Another manager was just incompetent – always late to meetings and slow to get something approved that needed to happen.
Others have had direct supervisors who lie and cheat. Some who abuse substances.
No matter the reason for your bad boss, you need to think things through. Is the company you represent worth fighting for, or is this manager indicative of other issues company-wide?
Once you know if you should stay and fight or go somewhere else with less issues, then determine if you should tackle this head-on or not.
One of the worst things that happened to me in my sales career was having someone else appointed to takeover an account that brought in multi-millions in revenue every month because my branch manager thought me being a single mom would cause issues down the road. I couldn’t work the account as well as my married male counterpart (his wife stayed home to raise their kids). Yup, discrimination at its finest.
Although I was young, I was seasoned enough to point out the illegalities of saying some of the things they were saying, so they quickly changed their tune and started mounting a campaign about how the client suddenly didn’t really want me as their rep anymore – a stretch they could never prove in a million years.
But it wasn’t worth the energy. I talked to a lawyer who told me I had a great discrimination case – if that’s what I wanted to do. Living in a town where everyone in business knows you – I decided to go to the competition – and bring the account with me. I didn’t get dragged into something negative and I got to do what I do best – sell. The company shut down within a few more years because of bad decisions like the one my branch manager made about me.
If the company has issues throughout – go somewhere else where you can focus on selling.
If the company is good but you are having issues with your direct boss – try the following:
Talk directly to them. You are here to sell and they don’t have to like you – but they need to respect you.
If that doesn’t work, consider waiting it out – often others will see through the bad manager you have OR you may need to find someone outside the organization or inside the organization to discuss what your options are. It’s easy to just tell you to mount a strategy to go around your boss but that often doesn’t work. I’ve found that in my case, anyway, I can see problems before they are obvious to others.
Is there another team you can report to for now?
In the meantime, look around outside your company. In B2B sales there are still SO many amazing opportunities you should be working in a place where it is fun and a joy to go to work. Yes I said joy.
How about you? What have you learned about how to deal with a bad boss?
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Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide and is a Top 25 Innovative Sales Blogger. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog for sales strategies, tactics, and tips.
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