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In the world of outside sales, every team, sales professional, every organization has a structure or hierarchy. It is usually organized in a predictable way. There are the outside sales reps, a first-level manager and a second-level manager. Depending on how big the organization, the tiers of management work their way up. This blog today is for those who directly manage a sales team of outside sales professionals. Some refer to those people as “the boss.” I prefer to be called a manager. It’s not just semantics. Let’s take a look at the difference between a boss and a manger.

Boss or sales leader?

I don’t like to be called a boss by the people who work with me. Notice I said “people who work with me,” rather than “…who work for me.” Small though that may be, it is actually an important representation of my beliefs about management. A boss tells people what to do. “On Mondays you need to do this. On Tuesdays you need to go there.” The sales boss is very good at planning a scheduled and directing people’s actions. The sales boss may even have some success at generating revenue because they’re giving people a formula for success. The problem is  that formula may only work for a few people. A sales leader has instincts. Sales leaders know that there is more value in showing how it is done rather than just dictating what is done. The boss tells you what to do; the sales leader shows you what to do. The sales leader will have similar conversations with their team but with a different spin. They might say “Here’s what you do on Monday,” but the conversation doesn’t end there. They will explain the reasoning behind the schedule. They will explain the consequences of not doing things that way. And most importantly, the sales leader will model this formula in action. Taking a rep out onto the road with you allows them to learn from watching you do the job. Do the job once and then follow them when they try to do it. Keep doing that with your team members unit they are completely comfortable in their role.  A sales leader is not always the boss of people. They sometimes conduct field or new hire training. Every organization needs those sales leaders to make the engine run effectively. 

Where does the sales manager come in? 

A sales manager can do the same thing that a boss can do. Tell you do this, do that, do the other thing. They can do the same thing as a sales leader can do. Tell you how it’s done and guide you along the way until you are confident in the job. But a highly effective sales manager takes it one step further; a sales manager is incredibly talented at managing emotions. And emotions can run high in this industry. 

Managing more than revenue

Outside sales professionals are typically very passionate people. We get paid for performance. It’s the closest thing to being compensated like a professional athlete. Athletes get paid to perform; sales professionals get paid to perform. You get paid for revenue and when you don’t perform to the standards that you hold yourself to it can be frustrating. Effective sales managers know how to manage that frustration. They teach their team members to forecast consequences and adversity. They will manage the most important muscle in the sales game and that is the brain. A sales manager is going to be able to motivate, inspire, and hold you accountable to goals that you set for yourself. 

Organizations need leadership and management

If you’re a rep, I encourage you to share this blog with your sales manager, your sales leader, or your sales boss. Let them know this is what you need moving forward. Or if they are already doing a great job, take a moment today and let them know that. Being in sales management and in sales leadership is not as easy as it looks. There’s one manager and many reps. The leaders have your best interests at heart. They are learning to manage multiple emotions on a daily basis. An organization will grow when managers and reps are working together. If you have a “boss,” let someone in your organization know because that’s not what you need. You don’t need a boss. Depending on the hierarchy of your organization, you need a sales leader or a sales manager. 

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