Evaluating a Sales Role: Managers & Peer Groups
Quick PSA before we get started
We’ve been getting great feedback that some of this content is spurring additional thoughts & that folks wished there was a place to discuss further. For that reason, we’ve launched SaleBite, an exclusive community for the best sellers & leaders out there. RepSushi subscribers can get access to the community Here! We are capping at 50 members, for now, so sign up soon if you’re interested!
Now onto today’s programming…
“We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with” - Jim Rohn
There are few social circles we will spend as much time with as our direct managers & peers. After your significant other, children, or parents, your manager & teammates are probably the people you speak to most in the world. Yet oftentimes we don’t do the most basic diligence here even though these are going to be our highest frequency interactions in the workplace (and potentially in life). It’s really quite basic across both: can we learn from them & do we like them?
As best you can, you should try and meet your direct manager before starting at a company. Sales teams, unfortunately, shuffle around more than other departments and therefore this might not be possible, but it’s always worth a shot. When evaluating a new boss I’ve always thought of myself as a sponge and them as a well - if I suck up everything the well has to offer, am I better for it? or am I unchanged? This is going to sound cold, but not everyone is fit to lead, and even fewer are fit to lead real performers. We can save ourselves a lot of agony by determining upfront if we are going to be capable of respecting the person managing us, and this respect will generally come from trust & utility - can I trust this person & will they be useful to me? Plain & simple.
Evaluating your ability to build trust with someone might sound abstract, but there is a formula you can use, called the *drumroll*….trust equation
Credibility represents how much someone knows or has done. Reliability focuses on whether this person has a history of doing what they say they are going to do. Intimacy is whether or not you’d enjoy having coffee or lunch with this person. Self-Orientation represents individualism and whether they are more focused on themselves vs you (see a previous article here for more thoughts on that). So, credibility, reliability, intimacy = good, and self-orientation = bad. Rule of thumb if you want to be quantitative, assign each of these a number 1-3, and if the equation spits out anything less than a 4 there might be a problem. It’s not perfect, and it may be hard to suss this all out in the interview process, but I urge you to try and dig deep into whether or not you will be able to build a healthy relationship with your manager - not having it accentuates the worst part of the job.
Utility is a little more straightforward and I would define it as how much you will be able to learn from someone, about the job & the world in general. The learnings you get from a great manager will extend well beyond your roles & responsibilities on the job. Here you can look for this person’s experience - what have they done? how did they do it? And if the experience is limited, how are they going about getting better every day so that they will pass those learnings onto you?
If it’s not already part of your interview process, you must ask to spend time with at least three reps informally or do a “day in the life” shadow session. This is important to understand a) if you are going to jive with this team and more importantly b) what type of bar has leadership set for hiring salespeople. This should go without saying, but you want to be part of a team with an extremely high bar, as you will naturally get better through osmosis. Alternatively, if you join a team with a low bar, you may see your own habits become shells of their former selves as you integrate with your surroundings. I can’t stress this enough - there is no glory in being a giant fish in a small pond, eventually, you will drown.
So to sum it all up, teams have four components: 1) board & execs 2) department leaders 3) direct managers, and 4) peer groups - each requiring a different evaluation process. Nailing this part of the decision process is crucial - great teams make bad sales days great, and bad teams make great sales days awful.
The next post in the evaluation series will focus on evaluating the market your company is in, and how much runway up that gives you.
Have a great night