How to Get Your Boss to Give You Better Accounts

There’s an old joke about a man who beseeches God: “Please let me win the lottery”.

Sales Tip: have you earned what you're asking for?

Photo by Bacho Foto/dpc

He goes through all his troubles — business failures, medical problems, the loss of his house and car. Again and again he begs for God’s help in winning the lottery.

Finally, God speaks:

“Joe, meet me halfway. Buy a ticket.”

I was reminded of this story the other day after hearing from yet another AE about how unfair her station’s management is.

It was the usual story: Other reps have all the good accounts, and the sales manager never gives her anything. After 18 months at the station, she felt she deserved more.

At the end of the week I sat down with the sales manager to review the staff. I did not mention my conversation with this particular AE, but the manager had plenty to say about her:

“I’ve handed her leads, and found out later that she hadn’t followed up. I gave her a great book on sales, and she didn’t read it. When I give her advice, she doesn’t use it. She keeps saying I should give her a better list, but she hasn’t done anything to deserve it!”

Here was a salesperson who wanted the reward without taking the steps necessary to earn them. She wanted to win the lottery without buying a ticket.

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This phenomenon isn’t confined to media sales.

Investor Daniel Mumby, CEO of the Startup Foundation, has money to invest rather than accounts to give out, but he has some of the same frustrations as a sales manager.

In his essay Why I Can’t Invest In You If You Won’t Invest In Yourself, Mumby says that he hears 25 new pitches for funding every week and rarely invests in any of them.

The problem, he says, is that the people seeking his money haven’t done the work necessary to show they deserve it:

One of the key elements that is often not talked about, and therefore often ignored by founders (but rarely ignored by investors), is your propensity to invest in yourself. What effort have you put.. into actually learning your trade or craft?

How much

  • effort have you put into research, preparation, learning, delivery?
  • did you prepare for difficult questions during the Q&A section of your pitch.
  • research have you done in targeting the right types of investors?
  • actual researching, testing and learning have you done in your target product market?
  • have you progressed in building a prototype, testing actual paths to market, or in creating partnerships?
  • ‘skin in the game’ do have (in cash & labour) on your own venture?
  • have you invested in your professional learning for the market in question?

Because if your answer to any of these is “not much”, let me be frank – (in the words of Darryl Kerrigan from “the Castle”) – “tell him he’s dreamin’ “. You are not just unlikely to get investment – you just won’t. And I don’t mean from me; I mean almost no investor.

Here’s the question:

If you want your manager to give you some good accounts, or direct call-ins your way, send you to a conference, or pay for a training course, what have you done to earn it…and how visibly have you done it?

If you want your company to invest in you, what have you done to invest in yourself, and how can you demonstrate that?

5 Ways Salespeople Can Put This Into Action

  1. The next time your manager hands you a lead, drop everything and follow up on that lead immediately. Make the phone call as soon as you get back to your desk. As soon as you’ve made it, send your manager a short email letting them know what you did. “Jim, I just left a message for Dana at Johnson Heating. I’ll let you know when we connect. Thanks for the lead.” Do this even if you’re really busy, and even if you think it’s not a great prospect. The next lead might be a great one, and you want the manager to think of you first.
  2. If your manager hands you a book, read the book. Find something nice to say even if you don’t like it, and work that into a conversation with your boss. If it’s a job-related book, implement something you learned, and work that into a conversation to your boss.
  3. Buy your own books on sales, marketing, and advertising. Keep them on a shelf on your desk, where your manager can see them — it sends a message. Read them, in case your boss asks you about them, and because you just might learn something.
  4. If there’s an in-town seminar coming up on sales or marketing, and you can afford the entrance fee, ask for the time off to attend — without asking for the money. Your manager just might volunteer to pay for the ticket. If not, pay for it yourself (it’s tax-deductible) and go anyway. Once you’ve made your own financial investment in getting better at your job, you’re in a better position to ask your boss to make the next financial investment.
  5. If your company brings in a trainer or consultant, keep an open mind about the project, participate, and implement something you learned. (Yes, I have a dog in this fight.)It’s simple reciprocity — if you want your boss to pay for a course or conference you’re interested in, it will greatly help your cause if you support the projects they’re interested in.  Even the bad trainers can teach you something — one of the worst consultants I ever saw used a closing line that I loved, and I still use that line fifteen years later.

 You’re not just selling on the street… you’re selling in the office. Your manager is the prospect, and you’re asking for an investment. Just like on the street, you have to earn the right to ask for the business.

Buy a ticket.

Question: What’s the best thing you’ve done to convince your bosses you’re worth something extra? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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