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Qualities of a Great Sales Manager

qualities of a sales manager

There are several innate qualities of a great sales manager to look for during the hiring process and when building a strong sales team. References and reputation can only take you so far in evaluating a candidate’s capabilities. This person should exude confidence, effective interpersonal communication, and motivation as well.

Every company has specific characteristics they look for when seeking out a candidate for a leadership role. Here’s a list of essential qualities of a sales manager that’ll help guide a new hire or promotion. Evaluating and prioritizing each of these will better determine an ideal fit.

Leadership

Proven leadership is one of the most essential qualities of a sales manager. Spearheading a sales team requires the ability to delegate tasks, execute efficiently and effectively, and inspire others to perform their best. It involves the ability to seek out new solutions and make smart decisions quickly. A potential sales manager with great leadership qualities should have no problem:

  • Sharing knowledge with others
  • Knowing how to bounce back from losses
  • Embracing challenges with determination

When hiring for the role of a sales manager, it’s important to identify experience leading a team and examples of delegation and/or motivating others. When promoting someone within your organization, consider history of quality sales, lasting client relationships, and established camaraderie throughout the organization. 

Coachable

Once a sales rep establishes themself as a proven leader, they should possess enough humility to be coachable as they learn how to become a sales manager.  Coachability means a person is receptive to constructive criticism and knows how to use it to improve their own and workplace performance. 

Someone in line for this position already has a firm grasp of effective sales strategies. They’ve likely established years’ worth of sales and/or sales management experience. However, the ongoing desire to learn and make progress is part of what takes someone from good to great. Being coachable is valuable to a team. It paves the way for:

  • Continuous improvement to sustain long-term success
  • New opportunities to change tactics when needed
  • Eliminating complacency and stagnant behavior
  • Reaching the next level of expertise and performance

Too often, people stick with their tried-and-true way of selling and seek to implement that with their teams, despite the world of sales changing constantly. Clients want a new approach. Changes in business and the world more broadly switches up the way sales processes are conducted. 

These changes require the ability to pivot and adapt. This means a sales manager is willing to participate in ongoing sales coaching to ensure their sales goals are being met consistently. The ability to receive feedback and use it as motivation for growth is one of the top qualities of a great sales manager.

Confidence

Super-sized egos rarely work in a collaborative environment. However, confidence is one of the core qualities of a great sales manager. It means there’s a strong feeling of trust and certainty the person conveys. Confidence can inspire others to feel confident as well. This is showcased in various ways, such as how a person:

  • Carries themselves. Is the person reliable, prompt, and put together? 
  • Delivers a presentation. Does the person engage others, have good pacing and persuasiveness?
  • How they make decisions. Do they provide data to support their decisions?
  • Asks questions. Is the person open to learning?
  • Listens to others for guidance. How well does the person receive feedback?

Being a great sales manager isn’t always about having the right answer. It’s using the available tools, resources, and people to get to the best one. Characteristics and experience to look for during the hiring process or when considering a promotion is how self-assured the sales rep presents themselves through their verbal and non-verbal communication.

Innovative

The desire to seek an innovative approach is one of the best qualities of a potential sales manager. It’s a characteristic that pushes companies to scale and expand their business. A sales professional who desires innovation is inherently curious, which is valuable to any organization. Innovation requires: 

  • Willingness to take risks
  • Ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks
  • Researching new ways of doing things 
  • Reviewing data to explore areas for improvement and growth

Individuals who demonstrate an innovative mindset always think a few steps ahead to envision and execute change. This can positively impact company culture and boost sales team performance to establish leadership in the industry. 

Look for sales candidates that have been responsible or part of developing and implementing new processes or services within the company. Also, ask for examples of how their ideas helped with a competitive advantage, efficiency, or effectiveness within their sales group.

Analytical

An analytical mindset best supports innovation. Establishing a solid sales plan with set metrics is a crucial part of leading a sales team. A candidate who knows how to read and use data to drive future decisions is crucial to guide an effective team. Analysis in sales helps to:

  • Understand what motivates potential clients
  • Establish forecasts and predict outcomes
  • Identify undiscovered opportunities
  • Avoid repeating the same mistakes

A sales manager job description should include an ability to analyze sales data and establish sales objectives by forecasting and setting quotas to achieve realistic targets.

Motivating

The traits that qualify an effective sales leader are essentially what guide a successful sales team. An effective sales leader hits their targets, values client relationships, and knows how to motivate others. This is demonstrated through clear direction, persistence, and a positive outlook.

To gauge motivational capabilities when considering an existing sales rep for promotion, consider how well a salesperson:

  • Adapts to change and rides the lows as well as the highs
  • Conveys processes and their rate of effectiveness
  • Is respected among the team 

When there’s a shift of roles within a sales team, look for a proven history of success and good rapport among colleagues and clients. Sustainable leadership requires more than just hitting the set quota all the time. A motivational leader who is well-respected among the team elicits perseverance and a forward way of thinking. 

Loyal

There’s a competitive edge necessary in sales, but there is also a sense of loyalty to achieve high performance for the greater good. Loyalty is a quality that shows a salesperson can stand by their commitments in a trustworthy way. Being transparent with coworkers and clients is part of what establishes a strong and respected reputation. 

When seeking out loyalty among potential hires, review the time and effort a person gives to their role. This can help indicate their performance as a successful sales rep and potential sales manager. These characteristics may be listed on a resume by:

  • Familiarity with technology
  • Unique skill set, certifications, or ongoing learning
  • Participation in ongoing sales coaching

Evaluating loyalty as a quality of a great sales manager is often easier when promoting within. This is because there is firsthand experience with how dedicated a person is to their role and responsibilities. So, when hiring a sales manager, consider looking at candidates within your own organization who would be a good fit.

Focused

Focus is the ability to prioritize and concentrate on the most pressing needs. It’s an essential quality for the role of a sales manager since the job entails juggling several tasks at once. Focus minimizes impulsive decisions and negative consequences. 

It allows a person to prioritize the level of importance of each responsibility and give each item its due attention. When observing sales reps up for promotion, consider how well the person:

  • Involve themselves in sales meetings
  • Effectively multi-tasks
  • Limits distractions for themselves and others

A great sales manager knows how to focus their attention on first-priority matters without being distracted from day-to-day interruptions that can derail performance and progress.

Communicative 

Effective communication is essential to any leadership role. Communication is defined by how well a person transfers information to others. Sales requires the ability to present with confidence and establish a connection with others. It requires active listening, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. When observing candidates for a sales manager role, consider:

  • How clear and concise their responses are
  • References or accolades from clients and colleagues
  • Friendliness, confidence, and engagement during the interview process

There are several cues to take note of when deciding if a sales rep has the communication skills necessary to be a great sales manager. It’s important to consider what’s being said through words as well as non-verbal communication such as direct eye contact and good posture.

Promoting Greatness in Sales

The importance of identifying these qualities in salespeople helps determine who will make great sales managers. Use these qualities as a guide when hiring or promoting sales reps within your organization. These characteristics apply to all kinds of leadership styles. Some people may have a commanding presence when giving direction, while others like to enforce a more communal approach to sales strategies. Both are valuable as long as they’re rooted in many of these core qualities. 

People who want to advance often think it takes improving their sales numbers or showing how many years they’ve been with a company in order to make the move to management. While these may be factors, it’s demonstrating these qualities consistently that’s valued most. It takes a person who can identify strengths and improve upon weaknesses to reach the management level and secure a spot as an undoubtedly invaluable member of the team. 

If you or a member of your team is seeking out additional guidance, consider Janek’s sales management training program. In this program, you or the potential candidate will learn all the invaluable sales manager skills needed to lead a highly successful sales team. 

Sources:

  1. https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/sales-manager-job-description-skills
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2017/10/20/eight-essential-qualities-every-great-sales-manager-needs/?sh=3ceba8d627d3

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