A sales manager wears many hats in the organization. Their role is complex as they need to manage their targets, and recruit, train and motivate their team of salespeople. From managing the operation procedures to executing marketing strategies, the skills required for sales manager are vast and multidisciplinary.
In small businesses, sales managers perform a range of business operations, including administrative and marketing. In medium-sized businesses, they mainly perform operative functions such as marketing strategy execution. In the case of large-scale businesses, a sales manager plans, coordinates, guides and controls i.e., oversees the overall administrative responsibilities of an organization. No matter what type of industry or business it is, a sales manager requires several skills and qualities to achieve success in their field.
The Importance Of Sales Management
They say that ‘sales is the stepping stone to a successful career in marketing’. Although sales has been closely associated with marketing, every department in an organization is focused on driving sales. Therefore, sales management applies to various sections of a business directly and indirectly. This also means that sales management isn’t easy.
A sales manager undoubtedly requires hands-on experience to shoulder so many responsibilities and drive successful sales management strategies. In addition to setting plans, monitoring and tracking them, they need to identify and address weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities and continue to adapt to changing environments.
Here’s a list of key roles and responsibilities that a sales manager needs to fulfill:
Managing The Team
Setting goals, targets, performance plans and performance standards for sales representatives
Hire and set up a team of trusted and talented individuals who work towards driving common targets and overall objectives of the organization
Hiring a team isn’t enough, managers should identify the key players and delegate tasks accordingly; they should motivate and guide employees whenever required
Providing one-on-one coaching, counsel and support to underperforming team members
Tracking progress is essential; managers often ask their team to submit weekly or monthly reports to monitor performance
Managing The Business
Determining sales targets through effective planning and budgeting
Developing thorough strategies to acquire new clients and customers
Analyzing past data and performance to address performance gaps
Monitoring industry trends and competition while also looking out for potential threats
Collaborating with internal teams (e.g., marketing) for lead generation
Managing Customer Or Client Needs
Gaining a deeper understanding of customer needs and monitoring preferences
Resolving customer complaints and issues regarding products and/or services
Providing expertise when setting product prices and plans and discount rates
Providing negotiation expertise
Collecting feedback and communicating it to relevant departments
Key Skills For Sales Managers
While a sales manager role can be highly stressful, it can also be greatly rewarding when targets are met on time and there are quick conversions. Here is a list of sales manager skills that every individual in that position requires to successfully drive business goals.
One of the most essential sales manager skills, effective communication helps managers enhance interpersonal relationships. Whether it’s interacting and collaborating with coworkers or building long-term relationships with clients—communication skills ensure that people feel comfortable in a manager’s presence. Authenticity, transparency and honesty lie at the heart of good communication.
To Motivate And Inspire
A well-performing sales manager knows how to maximize their team’s potential. They understand the strengths and weaknesses and know when to provide constructive feedback. To instill a sense of purpose and motivate representatives is a key quality. Moreover, no two employees have the same learning or working styles and good sales managers know how to inspire everyone in unique ways.
Encourage Skill Development
Effective sales managers understand the importance of skill development and training for team members. Not everyone joins an organization with the same experience, knowledge and skill set. However, through proper guidance and support, managers can encourage employees to seek out new learning opportunities. This further boosts morale and job satisfaction—reducing the turnover rates. Employee retention is a healthy sign of growth.
Empathy And Respect
High-performing sales managers face a lot of pressure when it comes to upholding performance standards. A good sales manager knows when to take a breather and avoid the usage of emotionally charged words. There should be a degree of patience and empathy when cooperating with multiple coworkers. They remain calm and look at situations objectively.
Effective sales managers trust their teams to do their jobs. They delegate responsibilities and don’t micromanage their teams. They know how to earn respect, and that’s one of the true marks of leadership. Respect and empathy are only possible because of good communication skills. Sales managers need to keep an open mind and be patient with everyone while mentoring and supporting them through their journeys.
Sales managers often pride themselves on setting tough goals for their teams. While it’s good to be aspirational, successful managers know how to remain realistic while setting goals. Goals should be specific, measurable and achievable, otherwise meeting deadlines and targets will be impossible. Realistic goals also act as great motivators and provide sales teams with direction.
An important sales manager skill, social selling refers to the ability to establish rapport and develop relationships as part of the sales process. Gone are the days of cold calling and cold emailing because social selling uses existing networks to tap into new connections. Several social media platforms have accelerated social selling and it’s a transformative practice that has gained popularity over time.
Qualities Of A Good Sales Manager
In addition to key sales manager skills, organizations should also look out for essential sales manager qualities. Here is a list of sales manager qualities that help individuals go above and beyond their job description.
A good sales manager knows when to step up and hold themselves accountable. They’re supportive of their team and are ready to back them up when the time comes. Additionally, they don’t give up easily and aren’t afraid of voicing their opinions.
As we’ve already established, a sales job is often stressful. But to be able to manage stress and continue to perform well are the true signs of successful sales management. Even if there are disagreements or conflicts, effective managers handle these situations well.
Lead By Example
A good manager is one who sets examples through their work. In addition to motivating and inspiring employees, they know how to help them find meaning in their work. When managers are punctual, productive and efficient, their team is likely to follow in their footsteps.
A majority of a sales manager’s time is dedicated towards training and guiding their team. For successful delegation, collaboration and cooperation, managers need to take time out for one-on-one engagements and support. The onus lies with the manager to get employees up to speed and help them achieve targets with greater efficiency.
Great sales managers are passionate about what they do. Not only do they believe in themselves, but they also trust their team. They genuinely care about sales and are driven by achievements—big or small. Most importantly, they know how to have fun.
Impactful Sales Program For Impactful Managers
The ability to sell is a superpower. An effective sales manager brings different kinds of skills together. Their qualities are reflected in their personality and their work. If you’re an organization looking to bring out the best in salespeople, Harappa’s Impactful Sales Program has your back!
The program pivots on six different learner outcomes that’ll help individuals apply human-centric techniques to co-create and customize business solutions. They’ll learn how to take ownership and value the need for establishing brand credibility. Not only sales managers but every professional in sales roles will benefit from this program.
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