Your sales manager has a lot to offer you. You'll miss what your manager offers if you are overly focused on "kissing up" to your manager to try and gain favor instead of managing up in a way that gives you learning opportunities.
Because so many sellers prefer to work autonomously and have a high degree of confidence and doing things their own way, it is common for sellers to miss out on what they could be learning from a sales manager.
You are probably missing out if you keep your sales manager at arms length and mentally consider them to be on a need-to-know basis. Likewise, if you are leapfrogging over your manager to try and gain attention of higher level managers, you also are missing out on what your direct manager has to offer you.
Consider enlisting your manager's support and help in the following ways:
1. Your manager can be your greatest advocate. Internally, in meetings where you are not present, you want your manager to be a supporter. You want your manager to advocate for you when you're having a tough time making goal. You want your manager to see enough of your qualities and potential to truly root for you when the time comes to discuss promotions and new opportunities. If you are interacting with your manager in a way that is limited, either on at arms length basis or by only showing the very best results, your manager doesn't know enough about you to be your advocate.
2. Your manager can be a coach, a mentor or even a trainer for you. There is no shame in acknowledging what you do not know, or need some help to develop. You need to ask for what you need from your manager. Allow enough time for more than a demonstration or a directive. Explain situations and barriers so that you can get the full learning support you need.
3. Your manager can be an internal resource to overcome obstacles. When you need the help of other departments, an accelerated timeline for project support, additional funding for a project or any other unusual resources, you need your manager to back you up. The likelihood of your manager stepping into support you in these ways is much greater when you have had an ongoing conversation that surpasses the superficial.
4. Your manager can be a help or hindrance when it comes to buyers. If you enlist your manager as a mercenary closer or position your manager as the only one with decision making authority, you are disempowering yourself in the eyes of your buyers. Spend time with your manager setting up four-legged sales calls so you are always in the lead role and your manager enhances the relationship between you and the buyer.
5. your manager can and should be your ally. Don't put your manager in an adversarial relationship with you by assuming that goals set and performance standards measured and rules enforced are meant to work against you. Instead, work with your manager and try to understand those aspects of managing that feel negative to you. When you try to understand your manager, your manager will reciprocate and try to understand you, too. It's give-and-take. And it must be an alliance, because you can never fully succeed without the backing of your manager.
When you manage up you will have greater opportunities for business insight and sales success. Your job will become easier because you won't have to do it alone.