Great sales managers blend leadership finesse, effective team-building, and a deep understanding of market dynamics.
Explore how they drive their team to achieve immediate goals while building loyalty for long-term business growth. This guide reveals how to lead with unparallelled skill.
- What Makes a Great Sales Manager?
- What Sets Great Sales Managers Apart?
- Responsibilities of a Sales Manager
- Qualities You Need To Go From Good To Great
- Sales Management Strategy for Sales Managers
- The Importance of Sales Coaching And Training
- What Does Sales Manager Success Look Like?
- Metrics Sales Managers Should Care About
- Common Mistakes Sales Managers Should Avoid
- Embrace the Challenge of Great Sales Management
What Makes a Great Sales Manager?
A great sales manager has a unique combination of leadership, coaching, and analytic skills that empower sales teams to maximise performance. By setting clear priorities and objectives, sales managers can transform good sales reps into exceptional ones.
These sales managers are skilled at guiding their sales team members toward revenue-generating activities. They leverage data-driven sales coaching, which allows for a more personalised and targeted development plan for each sales rep, addressing specific challenges and capitalising on opportunities. This, in turn, enables salespeople to optimise their time and resources by aligning with strategic goals.
What Sets Great Sales Managers Apart?
Successful sales managers possess distinct traits that empower them to maximise their team’s potential. They are relationship builders, continuous learners, and master communicators. Effective sales managers create a culture where sales reps can thrive.
Traits distinguishing these leaders include:
- Building strong relationships: They excel in forging robust relationships with sales professionals and stakeholders, building trust, effective communication, and teamwork.
- Pursuit of continuous learning: Always seeking to enhance processes, tools, and sales skills, they embody a spirit of ongoing improvement.
- Championing sales enablement: They are adept at identifying and leveraging teachable moments, consistently providing feedback, coaching, and training to drive sales enablement.
- Optimising the right people in the right role: Skilled in aligning individual strengths with appropriate roles, they understand team members’ motivations and abilities, boosting productivity.
- Practising effective communication skills: These managers offer clear guidance while maintaining approachability.
- Promoting cultural fit: They advocate for and train their teams in company values such as excellence, resilience, and transparency, ensuring a strong cultural alignment.
Responsibilities of a Sales Manager
Sales managers are the linchpins of their teams’ success, tasked with a diverse array of duties that shape the direction and success of their sales reps. The sales manager role is multifaceted and impactful, from in-depth product knowledge to fostering a positive team culture.
Sales managers must:
- Know the sales job: Know the sales role and the company’s products/services. This is the only way a sales manager can onboard, train, and coach their sales team.
- Inspire and lead: The best sales managers roll up their sleeves, get involved, and lead by example.
- Create a positive environment: Culture reflects values like integrity, teamwork, and high performance.
- Define and streamline processes: Use data to refine and streamline sales processes without overloading salespeople with busy work.
- Manage pipeline and analyse data: Proactively monitor and analyse sales data, identify potential risks, and uncover opportunities through trends and patterns.
- Communicate direction and priorities: Articulate expectations and priorities with clarity and precision. This involves conveying the broader organisational goals and breaking them into actionable and understandable targets for the team.
- Protect seller time: Ensure sales reps focus primarily on high-value activities such as client meetings and product demonstrations. Actively work to minimise distractions and reduce the burden of non-revenue-generating tasks.
- Celebrate success: Recognition is a powerful motivator and helps sustain sales success.
Mastering these responsibilities is just the beginning. To evolve from good to great, a sales manager must develop skills and qualities that elevate their influence, getting them a seat at the table. Let’s explore what it takes to make this leap.
Qualities You Need To Go From Good To Great
Growing from a good sales manager to a great sales manager requires more than just mastering the basics. It involves perfecting a set of management skills and qualities that distinguish them from the rest.
These advanced abilities elevate a manager from being functional to exceptional.
- Advanced emotional intelligence: Beyond basic people management, this involves competency in team dynamics, empathising with diverse perspectives, and creating a supportive and motivating environment.
- Sophisticated data analysis: More than just interpreting sales figures, this means leveraging complex analytics to forecast trends, identify market opportunities, and inform strategic decisions.
- Inspirational sales leadership: This goes beyond standard management to inspire a team, creating a vision others are eager to follow.
- Innovative problem-solving: This skill is about creatively tackling challenges, turning potential setbacks into growth opportunities, and continuously pushing the boundaries.
- Strategic influence: Developing the ability to participate in and actively shape and guide key business strategies and decisions.
These skills are essential for sales leaders who aim to impact their teams and the entire organisation. By demonstrating outstanding sales leadership, strategic insight, and consistent results, these managers earn the trust and respect of top executives. This recognition allows them to influence key business decisions and represent their teams’ interests.
Sales Management Strategy for Sales Managers
A successful sales management strategy requires a strong foundation, starting with setting SMART goals and encouraging collaboration between marketing, enablement, and sales teams. This unified approach helps sales managers develop a robust plan.
Key steps in laying this foundation include:
- Establishing clear, SMART goals for current and future sales objectives.
- Gaining an understanding of the customer base and the market.
- Streamlining the sales process for efficiency.
- Identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress.
- Adopting advanced technological tools, like CRMs, to enhance sales efforts.
- Creating a motivating compensation plan with incentives.
- Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities within the sales team.
- Ensuring sales department alignment and collaboration with other business units to foster shared growth.
By concentrating on these sales strategies, managers can build a salesforce that achieves excellent results and supports continuous profitability.
The Importance Of Sales Coaching And Training
Sales coaching and training enhance sales rep confidence and performance. Providing new skills and addressing challenges increase deal closures and overall success.
Interestingly, while 57% of teams acknowledge their sales managers’ ability to effectively coach, nearly half (44%) express a lack of confidence in their managers’ coaching skills.
Sales coaching can be a game-changer in a competitive market where many sales reps lack confidence. Only a quarter of sales reps feel confident in their deal-closing abilities. This lack of confidence can lead to underperformance and, ultimately, a high turnover rate, with about one-third of sales reps leaving their roles due to unmet quotas. An understaffed or inexperienced team significantly risks missing revenue targets. However, when sales managers effectively utilise data in their coaching, there’s a notable 5% increase in salespeople meeting their quotas.
Stephanie Aylward, Manager of Revenue Enablement at Fastly, shares an example:
“We purchased a security company a few years ago called Signal Sciences. At that time, none of our reps had a background in selling security, so we had to bring them up to speed on the security landscape, our buyers, how the solution solved buyers’ problems, and a high-level elevator pitch. We used Training and Coaching for that.”
Sales Training Tips For Sales Managers
Whether a seasoned pro or new to the game, these practical sales training tips are designed to help sales managers craft a sales training programme that’s both effective and engaging.
- Tailor your sales training: Adjust training to fit the sales team’s specific needs and your company’s unique sales approach.
- Keep it interactive: Use role-playing and real-life scenarios to make learning fun and relevant.
- Never stop learning: Continuously bring new skills and insights to your team, keeping everyone at the top of their game.
- Embrace tech tools: Make the most of sales training software to make learning convenient and cutting-edge.
- Listen and evolve: Always be open to feedback and ready to tweak your training to keep it fresh and effective.
Highlighting the importance of dynamic and practical training, Intralinks’ adoption of Highspot’s unified platform showcases how integrating systematic training into sales reps’ workflows and interactive learning can significantly boost engagement in sales training programmes.
Sales Coaching Tips For Sales Managers
Coaching sales representatives is an adventure filled with opportunities to inspire and guide. These tips are about fostering growth and confidence in every team member at the right time.
- Create custom sales coaching plans: Tailor your mentoring and guidance to each team member, celebrating their unique strengths.
- Make time for one-on-ones: Regular personal check-ins can make a world of difference.
- Encourage looking inward: Inspire your team to reflect on their sales performance, inspiring self-improvement.
- Give feedback in the moment: Offer insights right when needed, helping your team adapt on the fly.
- Be the role model: Show them how it’s done. Your actions inspire and set the tone for excellence.
What Does Sales Manager Success Look Like?
Sales manager success is about hitting sales targets, leading a strong team, maintaining customer ties, and contributing to overall growth. It’s a balancing act that makes a meaningful impact on the sales organisation.
Metrics Sales Managers Should Care About
Harnessing data-driven insights is key to steering successful outcomes. Sales managers depend on various key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to assess their sales strategies and team performance.
Essential sales metrics include sales revenue, growth, conversion rate, customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), pipeline value, lead-to-close time, win rate, churn rate, and individual and team performance measures like quota attainment. Regular monitoring of these metrics enables sales managers to make well-informed choices, pinpoint areas needing improvement, and fine-tune their strategies for better outcomes.
Tracking metrics is crucial to sales management, but it’s not the whole picture. A balanced approach that combines data analysis with solid leadership skills is key to success.
6 Common Mistakes Sales Managers Should Avoid
However, even the most effective sales managers can fall into bad habits. Avoiding these six mistakes can influence your team’s productivity and cohesion. From failing to focus on team development to underestimating the power of clear goals, each oversight can have a significant impact.
- Neglecting training and development: Always invest in your team’s ongoing learning and skill development.
- Overlooking individual strengths: Recognise each team member’s unique skill sets and contributions. Tailor your strategy to leverage each team member’s best qualities.
- Not leveraging data and failing to adapt: Use data-driven insights for decision-making and stay flexible to adapt to market changes.
- Unclear sales goals: Set specific targets and communicate them clearly and consistently.
- Overemphasis on results: Focusing solely on targets can lead to short-term gains and long-term problems—balance outcomes with sustainable sales processes.
- Micromanaging and ignoring team morale: Trust your team and give them autonomy to make decisions while nurturing a positive and supportive work environment.
Embrace the Challenge of Great Sales Management
Your effectiveness as a leader is not just about meeting targets; it’s about nurturing a resilient, adaptive, and consistently high-performing sales team. Remember, high turnover and unmet goals are not just markers of a struggling sales team but signals of a leadership opportunity missed. Don’t let that be your story.
Ask yourself: How can I be a better sales manager? The answer to this question is your path to becoming extraordinary.
Let Highspot help you level up from good to great. With our AI-powered sales enablement platform, you can easily identify strengths and weaknesses. Utilise this real-time data to tailor personalised coaching sessions that will improve the success of your sales reps. Schedule a demo today!