When you think “sales manager”, do you think of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry, Glenross or Ben Affleck in Boiler Room. Do you think of someone pushing you and exhorting you to sell more and more?  

It’s time to take the power back.

The best sales manager you are ever going to have is yourself. No one is going to care about your career success as much as you will.  And the one person who you can’t lie to, or inflate your numbers for, is you.

But it can be challenging to decide how to manage your activities in a sales world that’s in flux.

Today’s sales environment can be challenging to navigate because it’s a lot less linear than it used to be.  The metrics to track aren’t as obvious.

It was easier when all you had to do is hit the phones and track how many calls you made, how many appointments you set up, and how many of those sales calls resulted in a positive result.  Now, the world of social selling, digital communication, and elongated sales cycles makes it harder to track your progress.

But there are 5 questions that you can ask yourself at the end of every day to keep you focused on the most important relationship-building and sales-driving activities in your role:

1. What seed did I plant today?

Sales relationships have to start somewhere.  Don’t mistake a simple cold call or cold email as a seed. Did you follow up on an introduction, ask for a referral, or send a customized invitation to connect to someone on social. They might be a direct prospect, or maybe it’s someone who could become a champion or influencer.

2. What relationship did I cultivate?

You never know where a referral, an interested prospect, or a raving fan will come from. If you don’t cultivate your relationships, there’s no way you can reap a harvest.  Did you take a few minutes to send a quick note to one of your contacts through LinkedIn or Twitter? Or did you give a quick call or send a text to someone who isn’t actively in your pipeline. As the saying goes, the best time to dig a well is before you’re thirsty.

3. What did I ask for today?

Just because sales processes are less linear than ever, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be asking for something. That’s what sets salespeople apart from consultants: they ask for stuff. It might be asking for business, but it could be any ask that moves the relationship or business forward: asking to connect on social media, asking for a meeting, asking for another decision-maker to be brought to the table, etc.

4. Where did I prepare for the future?

The future of sales is going to belong to the educated and skilled. What did you do to improve your abilities and capacity? You can’t rely on your employer or anyone else to train you, so take advantage of the resources at your disposal. Did you take 20-30 minutes to listen to a podcast, read a book, watch a webinar, study your favorite blog, or read industry information?

5. Where can I do better?

We won’t hit everything out of the park every day. It’s useful to ask where you didn’t do as well as you could have. Did you get sidetracked on LinkedIn and look at random articles instead of doing prospect research? Was there a chance to reach out and call someone where instead you just sent them a boring email? Be honest with yourself because identifying your areas of opportunity is the only way you are going to improve.


David J.P. Fisher (D. Fish) is a speaker, coach, and best-selling author 7 books, including Hyper-Connected Selling.  He combines nuanced strategy and real-world tactics to help professionals navigate a world where social media, networking, and old-school sales and communication skills are the key to creating human connections and winning business. He lives in Evanston, IL – next to a huge cemetery which helps him appreciate the value of every day. Visit his website to learn more www.davidjpfisher.com