All managers have expectations, and you need to keep your manager happy. In sales, this happiness is often measured daily or weekly. Some managers tell your right out what their expectations are. Others hint around it. Still others say nothing, and hope for good numbers. It is important to understand what the expectations are, because they will keep you from trying to reinvent the wheel. No matter what your manager's style is, get clear on the expectations, and adjust when they change.
Most management expectations are built on history in your market, and they’ve discovered which ratios and activities yield the desired results. Do as they ask. Eventually, you may discover that management isn’t as married to each activity as much as it is to hitting their numbers, and you can change tactics to get there. Maybe you’ll discover that the only thing that works is following their formula. The point is, the decisions you make about how to plan your work need to take management expectations into consideration, and meet their needs. If you don’t meet their needs, you will be replaced. It’s harsh, but it’s true.
A very effective tool for spending time efficiently is to keep management in the loop is to write the broad strokes of your plan for the week in a simple email, and send it to your manager. “I have follow ups with A, B, and C companies for sales calls. X, Y and Z have closing appointments scheduled. I’ll be cold-calling in Bergen County in the mid-week.” Send it on Friday night or Monday morning. No, telling her in a quick moment in the hallway isn’t enough! If your manager has specific expectations, you’ve told her the highlights of how you’re planning to meet them. If your manager has no expectations, she knows what you’re doing. And when your manager wants you to focus in a different area, she’ll write back or tell you. You’ll know before you blow your time on the wrong stuff.
This approach also seems to keep micro-managers off your back. Just remember to send a follow-up email at the end of the week explaining your accomplishments. If something went badly, admit it, and indicate how you plan to remedy the situation. This should not be in the same email as the “Plan” email! Identify each with the specific dates they cover so you can quickly reference them over time. Ex: “X and Y closed as expected. The contracts are in fulfillment. Z is shopping the competition, and has concerns about the sales agreement. Another meeting is scheduled next week. Cold calls yielded 6 follow-up calls in Bergen County. Company A was a one call close, and the contract is on your desk! B scheduled a presentation for Monday morning. C has a closing appointment with us Tuesday.” This simple summary shows your boss what your piece of her team is doing, and helps her make effective management decisions.
All of this communication creates a paper (email) trail that will be helpful to you at review time, as it will be easy for you and your manager to quantify your efforts and your results. You'll also be able to look back and see patterns emerge around certain sales approaches and subsequent success or failure. All this in two emails a week! Get writing!