This is part seven of The No Excuses Guide to Selling Without a Sales Manager (this link is part one). Read part two: Choosing Your Sales Goals and Accountabilities. Then, read part three: Building Your Sales Activity Plan. Then read the two companion pieces, part four: Reviewing Your Own Sales Pipeline, and part five: Reviewing Your Own Sales Opportunities. Part six is Building Support by Selling Inside.
You are going to run into all kinds of challenges selling without a sales manager. You are going to have challenges learning to manage yourself, challenges creating and winning opportunities, and challenges getting things done.
Without a sales manager, you are going to have to learn how to deal with these challenges for yourself. But doing things for yourself doesn’t mean doing so by yourself. You can find the answers and you can find help.
Make It a Study
Whatever your challenge, you can learn to overcome it. You can learn to be better and to perform better than you are presently. By defining the problem, you can begin the practice of studying it and learning to make improvements.
The Internet is full of bad and dangerous ideas for salespeople. There are people who do not sell, have not sold, and have never managed salespeople who write about sales. Mostly these people are marketers that peddle bad ideas that benefit only their bank accounts.
But once you can identify those who sell bad ideas that sound like they can make selling easier, you will find lots of great ideas by people who carry a bag, who have carried a bag, and who manage and have managed salespeople.
You can research the area you need to improve, and you can find ideas that you can put into practice. The answers are out there for those who are willing to go and find them.
The Internet isn’t the only place to find answers. There are also countless books, magazines, and journals.
Hit the Books (and Stuff): Read widely. Read deeply. Use the Internet. Go to the bookstore and stock up on sales books, magazines, and journals.
Find Mentors, Teachers, and Coaches
There are people in your community who know what you need to know. There are other salespeople who have struggled with the very challenge you face now, and there are sales managers who have an answer—or potential answer, anyway—that are willing to help you.
You can join networking groups for salespeople and find contacts that will help you and who you can in turn help.
You can find mentors, teachers, and coaches within your own organization. There are people in your organization that work or worked in your role. They will have some ideas. There are also smart, subject-matter experts that can help you learn how to think about some of the challenges you face. If you have a financial question from a client about calculating their return on investment, your Chief Financial Officer is as good a bet as the sales manager you don’t have.
You can also find them within your client’s company. If you have strong relationships with your clients, you can ask them educate you on industry issues and how they think about problems. You can also develop relationships with their salespeople and sales managers.
“Stop right there, Iannarino,” you say. “How am I supposed to ask to speak to their salespeople or sales manager?”
The answer is easy, and we call it a referral. You can—and should—develop relationships within your client companies, and sharing referrals is a terrific way to do so. I have made sales calls with my clients, and with some of their people. After giving them a reference, you will have paid in advance for a few questions—and probably a few referrals back your way.
Find the help you Need: Find mentors. Find teachers. Find coaches. Develop and nurture these relationships. They will help you find answers.
Don’t Go It Alone
You don’t have to learn everything on your own. You don’t have to learn everything the hard way. You don’t have to go it alone. You can find the answers you need, and you can find people to help you when you need help.
A good sales manager would have a lot of the answers and ideas that you need to move opportunities and make deals happen. But there are a lot of salespeople and sales managers who will help you, and there are a lot of ideas that you can find if you are willing to do the work.