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The Toughest Job In Sales

by David Brock on May 23rd, 2016

Sales is tough.  Probably each person reading this thinks their job is the toughest.

If you are a sales person, you’ve got to hit your numbers.  You’re out there trying to find enough opportunities, you need to work those opportunities through the pipeline, getting enough to make quota.

If you are a SDR, it’s taking those leads, reaching out to people, most of whom, probably don’t want to talk to you.  You have to sort through the literature collectors, tire kickers, until you find the right ones to qualify and pass on .

As the top sales executive, you have the challenge of maximizing the capabilities and capacity of the entire organization to achieve it’s goals.  You have to translate the business strategy into sales strategies your team can execute.

Each of these roles, and many more have their challenges.  None, by any means is easy.  But choosing a career in professional sales isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a choice about the “easy job.”

Having said all of this, the toughest job in sales is that of the Front Line Sales Manager.

The Front Line Sales Manager is the person responsible for leading teams of individuals.  In smaller organizations , the Front Line Sales Manager may, also, have responsibility for the entire organization.

For the most part, however, the Front Line Sales Manager is caught in the middle.  They aren’t responsible for doing deals—that’s the job of the sales people.  They aren’t responsible for the overall strategy and priorities of the company or the sales organization–that’s the job of top management.

The Front Line Sales Manager is responsible for the day to day execution of the sales strategy.  They have to translate strategy and goals into execution by their teams.

The job of the Front Lines Sales manager is tactical execution.  To succeed, they have to maximize the performance of each individual on their team.  They have to make sure each person has the skills, tools, training, and support to achieve their numbers.  If they don’t these managers won’t achieve theirs and the organization won’t make plan.

Often they’re caught between a rock and a hard place.  Expectations of top management are sometimes in conflict with the needs of the people on their teams.

Every day, they are challenged with, “What have you done for me lately?”  From their people, from their managers, from their peers and others in the organization.

On top of that, there’s time.  The clock is always running, the team has to meet it’s weekly, monthly quarterly, annual goals.

The manager’s job is filled with pressures around time.  How to find enough time to coach?  How to spend enough time with each person, in the field, with customers?  How to find the time to get the resources the sales people need to do their jobs?  How to respond to the incessant questions for information, status, forecasts from their management and the rest of the organization.

Then there are the problem performers.  They always take time, more than the managers have, but they can’t be ignored.  In fact, each person on the team needs time.  Each person needs to be coached and developed to maximize their individual performances.

I could go on, but you get the point.

Where do these managers turn to for help?  Where do they go to get ideas about what they should be doing, or even pragmatic advice to help them perform at the top of their own capabilities?

Certainly their own managers is one alternative.  Hopefully, they have managers focused on coaching and developing them.  But they’re busy too.  Often they don’t have the time or take the time needed to develop Front Line Managers.

And let’s face it, we don’t want to go to our managers all the time for help and advice.  After all, part of the reason we were put into the Front Line Sales Management role was our ability to figure it out.  Our abilities to solve problems and get our people performing.

The Sales Manager Survival Guide is the resource to help Front Line Sales Managers deal with the day to day challenges of the job.  It’s not filled with theories of an ideal sales world.  It focuses on the realities–good and bad that sales managers face every day.  It’s less a “how to” approach, more of “what should I be thinking about?” or “how can apply this to my role and organization.”  There are no magic solutions, or techniques, just pragmatic application.

If you want to maximize your personal success, if you want to maximize the performance of your team, the Sales Manager Survival Guide will help you learn not only how to survive, but how to thrive as a Front Line Sales Leader.

Book Cover

  1. Tom Erik Løkken permalink

    “Where do these managers turn to for help? Where do they go to get ideas about what they should be doing, or even pragmatic advice to help them perform at the top of their own capabilities?”

    The first thing I did was investing in 2 coaches – one I call The Zero Plus Coach (job specific – sales management) and the other one The Zero Minus Coach (life coach – outside job). I still use them, because they fit me and I think they are great!

    The first thing my Zero Plus Coach told me, was to invest time in finding great bloggers, writers and though leaders (plus working on the assignments that he gives me). That is how I found Partners in Excellence and your blog, sir.

    I have been fortunate to have followed your blog for approximately 14 months and I have learned a lot. I am really looking forward to buy you book and spend time studying it.

    Have a great day!

    /Tom Erik

    • Tom Erik: Sorry for the slow reply, as you know the past week has been busy 😉 I appreciate your continued engagement on this blog and in other social channels. Can’t wait to get your comments on the book!

  2. Selling is one of the toughest jobs in the world. There are no buffers between you and the reality of daily difficulties, delays and disappointments. You often ride an emotional roller-coaster, up and down, that never seems to stop. You are all alone.

    • No doubt, sales is tough. But I’d question if we are really alone–at least in complex B2B sales. Today, we need to leverage resources in our companies, we need to collaborate with partners and others. We need to engage our customers in meaningful decisions about their business. Little that we do is “all alone.”

      Having said that, sometimes it does feel lonely 😉

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