“Ward, I think you were a little hard on
the Beaver.” June Cleaver was oftentimes saying this phrase in the television
show Leave It To Beaver. And, this has been a quote used over and over again
since those shows aired in the late-1950’s and early-1960’s. Unfortunately,
many today don’t even know this show existed. Yet, the meaning behind the quote
and the outcome of the show’s content is as relevant today as it was way back
As a sales manager it is my
responsibility to be a mentor, to be a leader, to be a decision maker, but it
is not my responsibility to be my sales reps best friend. This does not mean I
am cold and callas, I am friendly with my team members, but sometimes I must
also be stern. I must “be a little hard on the Beaver” in order to ensure we
are all performing to our best abilities. Ward Cleaver was not intentionally
trying to be a mean, cold spirited dad. Quite the opposite, he was trying to be
a friend to his son while at times also reminding his son that he was
still the father in the relationship. This is no different for sales managers.
You don’t have to treat people poorly,
yell or bark orders at them, or make unrealistic demands. Time and again it has
been proven that this approach to management does not work. However, you cannot
always let the sales rep run without supervision or guidance. You must hold
your sales rep accountable for his or her own actions, performance, and
ultimately results. And yes, sometimes, this means you must be a bit stern in
your tone, attitude and words than you normally might be.
Sales reps must also learn and
understand who it is that they are working for and what triggers the sales
manager to take such a stern position with them. Is it the way they are
carrying themselves? Is it their sales performance or lack thereof? Is it their
close rate? Is it something they are doing that does not jive with the company
culture but something than can be changed nonetheless?
Sales reps are the other half of the
marriage so to speak. The relationship between rep and manager is just like a
personal relationship. There are times where everything seems like it couldn’t
get any better and there are times where the boat is rocking just a little too
much. As in a personal relationship, you should not sugarcoat the issue, rather
one person should be stern with the other and lay the cards on the table. It is
better to get the issue or issues out in the open, address them, deal with
them, resolve them, and move on. Otherwise, as with some personal
relationships, divorce may be inevitable.
A sales rep should not have thin skin
and be too sensitive to the sales manager when that manager takes a stern tone.
Instead, the sales rep should work to understand and communicate with the
manager what is going on, what they are feeling, and they must be completely
honest. Saying everything is fine & dandy when the results are poor just
won’t cut it and the rep will likely be put on the hot seat or lose their job.
Communication is the key to any successful relationship, even if it means being
“a little hard on the Beaver”.