I have been working as a salesperson in my current company for close to two years, the bosses are my friends and we work pretty well together even though my bosses have quite some attitude problem. I am the only sales guy in the company; there are 2 managers and another 3 colleagues, and they all rely on my sales to pay the salary and rent.

Recently, customers have been giving me quite a few problems. My bosses think it's my fault even though it's not, and they are accusing me of providing bad customer service and being unable to manage the customers' expectations well. My bosses expect me to hit the sales target and at the same time, not cause trouble to themselves. By "causing trouble to the bosses", they meant that I should not give customers what they request for.

If I satisfy my bosses by not giving the customers what they want, I get scolded by customers for not being able to provide enough to close the deal, but then if I can't please the customers, I get reprimanded by bosses for not hitting targets. How am I supposed to hit the target if I am unable to please the customer?

My bosses think they are the best bosses in the world and are always pushing the blame to other people when there are any employees that want to quit, and think that I should count myself lucky to be in this company.

I am already trying my best to meet my bosses' expectation of 'good customer service' and managing the 'customer's expectations', however it still seems like what i'm doing is not good enough. We never used to have such problems and it's gotten really bad from 0 ever since a week or two ago. I have also thought about telling them about what I feel but we've had co-workers done that before (that has already quitted) and it went kinda wrong, my bosses didn't take the feedback really well. Instead, the bosses think it's the staff's inability to do the job well and it will be their loss for quitting.... All in all, they'll never think it's their fault.

  • @Amelie I think you should edit your question again. Phrases like problems, what they request, customer expectations are just too vague. Please give several specific examples. – user8036 May 26 '15 at 9:04

This is something people struggle with a lot. Bottom line is, if they gave you feedback on your performance without suggestions for improving or at least a glimmer of a roadmap for recovery, then it's a worthless review. A performance review (even informal feedback) is not just an avenue of steam-venting on the part of a manager.

It sounds like you need to have a heartfelt conversation with your manager and determine exactly what were the good things about what you promised clients, exactly what the bad things were, and what you would do instead. They need to understand it from your perspective: without promising features, you don't get the contracts. You also need to understand it from their perspective: features that bring in one client are more expensive to the company than ones that bring in multiple clients.

You're in sales. You have to communicate. Your only job is to communicate. You have to have a perfect understanding of the capabilities of your company and your projects. You have to have a perfect understanding of the needs of your client. You have to convey to those clients that you are valuable to them; that their company will be more profitable with your services than without them, and with your services instead of any other alternative service. You have to communicate. And if you can't communicate your capabilities and needs requirements, how can you expect to communicate someone else's capabilities and needs?

If you want to salvage this position, look at the situation objectively, identify the positives and negatives about your workflow, eliminate any communication disconnects, and move forward. You can use phrases like

Asking your manager: "How do you want me to determine whether a customer's request is something I can promise them?"

Asking your development staff: "What red flags will indicate a requested feature will cause a lot of development headaches?"

Asking both of them: "What process/criteria/workflow should we use for estimating workload for requested features?"

Asking your prospective clients: "What features are considered dealbreakers?" and "Which features provide the highest ROI for your workflow?"

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Customer service, to me, means that I work with the customer until the customer's issue is resolved. It does not necessarily mean that the customer is going to walk away happy that they got what they wanted.

Your bosses want you to keep the customers happy and to hit the sales targets. If the sales target are unrealistic, then all I can say is that everything is easy to him that doesn't have to do it. If your bosses don't empower you to resolve customer issues and don't support you when you need them to intervene, then you do have a problem on your hands.

Only you can make the determination that your bosses' demands are mutually exclusive. There is always a tension between customer service and hitting the sales target. But most sales people successfully navigate this tension if they are empowered enough to act and if they get the needed support from their management. In your case, it appears that your bosses don't want to be bothered with you.

Only you can make the determination whether you would be very successful in a more supportive working environment.

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