How Much Does Your Sales Manager Need To Know?

Salespeople are an independent bunch. While many companies organize their sales-force into teams, it’s usually up to the individual rep to close deals. That’s why the relationship between sales rep and sales manager is the most critical relationship for a rep.

In theory, a sales manager is there to support the efforts of salespeople and provide guidance when needed. In practice, many managers get reps too bogged down in process or micromanage to the point where they become a roadblock to success.

So how much of what you’re doing does your sales manager actually need to know? Is it okay to keep details from your manager? And is the phrase, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission,” an accurate one when it comes to sales?

The answer: it depends on your manager’s style.

The critical thing to remember is that everyone in sales is focused on one thing: making sure that the customer is happy and the deal gets closed. If your manager supports your process and has the insight to help you succeed, then it’s worth providing him with the information he needs to satisfy his manager and to make you successful, be it appointment times, notes on objections and concerns, or the opportunity to second-voice a call to secure a deal.

The flip side of that coin is the sales manager who uses accountability as a weapon, demanding as much information as possible to provide ammunition for nit picking. Those managers are prevalent throughout the industry, especially with the rise of technology that tracks nearly everything and keeps us in constant communication. Those are the types with whom you want to be careful what you share. Just enough to keep them off your back, but not so much that it raises questions. With these managers it’s definitely better to ask for forgiveness than permission. The critical thing is to make sure to keep your own records complete so you have details if you’re asked about them later. You never want to give them the opportunity to make you the fall guy.

The vast majority of sales reps keep a personal record of the people they have done business with in the event that they switch jobs and need to take their book of business with them. Some go farther and track early-stage deals and model ‘what-if’ scenarios in their pipeline.

So when you go into the office tomorrow and look to see where you are on the board for the quarter, take a moment to think about what role your sales manager plays in your success, and how much sharing your personal records with him or her might help you. Can additional transparency help your career or hurt it?