Before you make a sales call with your manager always take time to review and discuss what you hope to accomplish on the call. I know this sounds like another “Captain Obvious” statement from Scott Dunkel however you would be surprised how often the rep and the manager are NOT in sync.
Whether it is an initial sales call or a call to hopefully get a contract signed it is critical that a planning session take place in advance of the call. This, of course, means that you shouldn’t pick your manager up at the airport and drive directly to the account while your manager is on the cell phone the entire trip. And just before you walk into the account you update him on what you expect to accomplish.
If your manager is remote than you must make it a point to talk by phone in advance so it won’t be a fire drill the day of the sales call.
If it is an initial call then you might not have a lot of history to share with your manager so you will simply put a joint plan together to inspire interest to learn more about your company and products. It will most likely be more of a fact-finding mission to see if there is a legitimate business opportunity.
However if the call is to advance a proposal or even ask for the order then the plan should be well thought out in order to minimize the possibility that you and your manager are not “singing from the same hymnal”.
Remember, you are the account executive. You have hopefully developed a trusting relationship with your client and should be able to articulate to your manager exactly the role you need him to play on the call. If the manager decides to depart from your plan during the call I would suggest that he doesn’t respect you as a sales exec or else he is simply a poor manager. Those are the only two possibilities.
An example of this was related to me while doing research for my book.
A senior sales exec for EMC was making a closing call on a major account. The rep made it abundantly clear that the account had no interest in add-on software. The account simply wanted a competitive price on data storage. In fact the sales exec was very explicit to the manager that the account would be upset if any mention of software were brought up. The reason was the rep had attempted to promote the software on several occasions to no avail. So to re-introduce the topic of add-on software at this late stage would infuriate the account.
The manager in this case completely disregarded the sales execs advice and asked the client if they were aware of the add-on software that EMC offered. In fact he took it a step further and challenged the client to name at least one EMC software package! Needless to say the meeting went downhill from there and EMC did not receive the order. Talk about the sales exec and the sales manager not being in sync! This, of course, is an extreme case of not being in sync but even smaller inconsistencies can derail a sales call. Think about it. If the rep and the manager can’t be in sync or agreement on how their product or service is a solid fit for the client; then how comfortable should the client feel?
In the chapter, “ The Sales Triangle/ or Balancing the three-legged stool” I go into great detail on the importance of this Universal Sales Truth.