Get the Message Across

By Ray Dreyfack

Do you find yourself in the difficult position of having to deal with an intrusive manager? Well here are some tips to help you make calls that are under your control.

“A major problem intrusive managers make is that they destroy the sales rep’s credibility,” says sales consultant Bill Brooks. “Their involvement undermines the rep’s authority and encourages prospects to use a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy for negotiation.” Do not allow supervisory participation, he counsels salespeople and managers alike, because prospects construe this as a sign of negotiating weakness.

Having said this, however, Brooks adds, “There are times when a manager should be involved in the sale. But make sure the reason is carefully defined and delineated.”

A variety of justifications exist to answer the key question: Why do some managers persist in playing the rep’s role?

Lack of confidence in the sales force to perform.
Poorly trained sales force.
Green sales reps not yet up to speed with accounts, products, etc.
Managers on incentive who feel they can produce more.
Sales managers lack emotional maturity.
Managers who are poor coaches, teachers or mentors.

Where managers’ intrusion has a negative impact, their career may be hurt as much as, if not more than, the reps’. They lose precious time from their true management responsibilities. Salespeople either resent the intrusion or relax and grow lazy. The sales force is deprived of opportunities to learn, improve and grow. Perceptive supervisors will downgrade the managers’ evaluation.

To remedy the situation as quickly and effectively as possible, reps should take the following steps:
1. Get your manager to spell out your level of authority, and be sure it is compatible with your accountability commitment.
2. Make it clear that you respect your boss’s expertise and will access it when needed. Make it equally clear you’re better off without it when it’s not needed.
3. Inform prospects they should deal directly with you. If higher-level help is required, you will arrange to access it.
4. Let your boss know that you welcome needed strategy planning and guidance, but that someone else doing your job is not helpful in the long run.

Bill Brooks is CEO of The Brooks Group in Greensboro, NC. For more information, call 1-800-633-7762, email or visit