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What Your Sales Manager Expects From You Regarding Constraints

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
December 28, 2010

It’s natural that your best intentions and best made plans rub up against the friction that is reality. Sometimes what you need to succeed or to move your opportunity through the pipeline is difficult, and sometimes it can feel as if what you need to do is impossible.

What makes what you need seem impossible are constraints; they are the obstacles that make what you need difficult to obtain or achieve.

But don’t go into your meeting with your sales manager to tell her that success is impossible—until you read this and rethink your plan.

You Were Hired To Be Resourceful

One of the primary attributes of successful people in all walks of life is their resourcefulness. It is their ability to find ways over, under, or around constraints that stop less successful people who are engaged in the same endeavor.

You weren’t hired to discover and report the constraints you encounter to your sales manager or sales leader. You were hired to be resourceful and to apply the great human attribute called your creativity to the problems you encounter.

Before you go an explain why you cannot accomplish what you were charged to accomplish, stop and remember that you were hired to apply your best thinking to your problems, your challenges, and the goals you need to achieve. Then, do so.

Identify Something More Than Constraints

So you’ve run headlong into the Mother of All Constraints. Before you call it impossible, sit down and take the time to brainstorm all of the potential ways you might achieve the outcome you need.

Are there resources you have access to that would eliminate the constraints?

What changes can you make to your plan to achieve the same outcome?

Could you achieve the same outcome by doing something completely different than your original plan? I mean completely different?

Rethink the whole thing. How would you achieve the outcomes if you could start from scratch, taking into consideration the constraints you are now up against? How would you design your way around it if you didn’t have to do what you believe you always have to do?

You’re not limited to your own resourcefulness. Part of being resourceful is reaching out to all of the super-smart people in your network who might not be limited by thinking about your problem through the conventional and constrained view that you can become saddled with when you are in solving problems in your own domain.

Generate ideas and find a way. Or find more than one.

What Your Manager Expects From You

Your manager expects you to come to them with more than a list of constraints that are your impossibilities. Your manager expects you to come to them with all of the ideas your resourcefulness generated and a range of options and choices, as well as some idea of how those ideas might play out and impact others.

You don’t say: “I can’t achieve this goal because (insert your pet impossibility or constraint) prevents me from getting the outcome I need.”

Instead, you say: “I ran into a giant constraint in achieving this outcome, and I have come up with three ways I think I can move this thing, but I want to run you through the scenarios to make sure we identify the best choice and that what we decide doesn’t unravel something else.”

Your sales manager or sales leader will love you (more than they already do). And you will find your job much more fulfilling when you empower yourself to bring your best, creative, and resourceful self to all of your challenges.


Think through some of the major challenges you are faced with now. What are the constraints and obstacles that make obtaining the result you need so difficult?

Take one of your constraints and really work on it.

(Hint: There is no better time to work on problems like this than first thing in the morning. And I mean first thing. Get up at 5:30 AM, grab coffee, and sit down to a clean sheet of paper. Brainstorming with a brain that hasn’t already been blasted with demands for its attention is a whole lot more effective).

Forget about the external barriers to obtaining the outcome you need. Instead, focus on the internal barriers. What do you tell yourself about the impossibility of achieving your desired outcome? What do you say to yourself that limits your resourcefulness?

Does calling something impossible make it so? Does it in any way absolve you of your responsibility for the outcome? Does adding the word “because” to the words “I can’t” make the statement true?

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on December 28, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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