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When is the salesperson Boss? (Tip for the Sales Manager.)

If you’re a Sales Manager, here’s something you need to consider.  Your salesperson’s second  worst nightmare is a totally unresponsive, unreceptive client or prospect.  That salesperson’s worst nightmare is you  unwittingly sabotaging the client meeting and undercutting his/her authority and credibility, perhaps permanently.  Read on for some process skills that will keep this from happening.

The joint sales call with the Sales Manager is a big day for any sales professional. This is when the manager sees him or her in the performance of their job. However, in our Sales Manager coaching programs, we often hear that sales managers take over the call. That can be counter-productive. So we would like you to consider the following:

The Salesperson is Boss on Joint Calls.

Theoretically, you are working for the salesperson when you join him or her on a sales call. You are there as a resource, helping the client accomplish their objectives.

The salesperson, as the facilitator, runs the meeting. You are there to assist.

Of course you need to participate. The client wants to hear from you. After all, you are the boss. You have perspectives to offer, experiences to relate, and insights to share. The last thing you want to do is just observe. That can create another kind of problem because the client may wonder why you are there. So, you need to be an active participant.

But let your salesperson run the meeting. They should position it and introduce you, hopefully in a complimentary way. They should confirm the agenda and time. They should set the stage for what is about to happen.

Now you can participate at any time. Contribute to the climate setting, ask questions, help with presenting, and be there to assist if objections come up. You have a lot to say. Don’t hold back. Just let your salesperson run the meeting.

There are three things that only the salesperson should do:

  1. They need to set the agenda, because that clearly identifies who is running the show.
  2. They need to determine when to move from one phase to another (the transitions) so they can lead the conversation.
  3. And they are the one who should ask for the business and either close (Big ‘C’) or get the next steps (small ‘c’).

Everything else is up for grabs.

If you take over the meeting you send the wrong message to the client. It disempowers the sales rep. It shows a lack of confidence. It diminishes their credibility. And though they may not tell you, it upsets them more often than not.

Another thing to consider is that if you take over the sales call, the customer will call you afterwards if they have questions or need follow-up. That is the last think you want to have happen.

Step in if you have to, and bail them out if they are in trouble, but if it is not terribly significant, let them handle it. Sometimes it is better in the long run if you let them experience a difficult encounter and coach them afterwards, as opposed to rescuing them at the time.

So yes, you are working for them when you are in the clients’ office. It’s a better role for you to play in a joint call. You want them to look as good as they can in front of the client and this will help.

And sure, once the call is over, you are still the boss. As one sales manager said at one of our recent Sales Manager Coaching programs, “Sure I will work for them when we’re with the customer, but once the meeting is over; let’s not forget who is driving home.”