A great sales manager is crucial to running a successful, high-performing team. A sales professional who upholds strong values and has proven experience can make an effective leader. It will however, require a different set of skills. And while managers have different leadership styles and personalities, there are certain sales manager skills every potential candidate should have.
Organization, interpersonal communication, and time management skills are essential for a leadership role. Accountability and reliability are also valuable. These types of skills help run a strong sales team and maintain a high level of performance. Here are 10 of the most common skills mandatory for a sales manager role:
Organization and Preparation
Understanding the value of organization and its purpose is one of the first steps you can take to learn how to become a sales manager. A salesperson wears many hats and juggles multiple projects or tasks at once. The ability to organize effectively helps to maintain order. It prioritizes which tasks are most important and assigns timelines and sales goals accordingly. It requires a keen eye for detail to increase credibility among clients and within an organization.
Preparation among sales managers is a must. They should be prepared to share and discuss performance metrics among the team as well as provide thorough sales training and coaching. A successful sales manager will be able to answer to upper management and communicate for the entire team, showing their initiative and involvement. Remaining organized in order to prepare for all of these factors will be crucial for any sales manager as they spearhead their organization.
Accountability is one of the top qualities of a great sales manager. Developing accountability is important for a sales manager to uphold expectations from their sales team. A good sales leader owns up to mistakes to allow others to learn and do better in the future. As a result, demonstrating accountability earns greater respect from peers.
The concept of accepting responsibility for actions, good or bad, is part of what drives a sales culture forward. Leading a team isn’t only about creating and implementing sales plans. It’s essential to reflect on parts that aren’t working and identify what can be done to improve. True accountability includes qualities such as humility and adaptability to be able to shift or abort plans when necessary for the sake of the team.
Being able to think analytically is another critical skill for great sales managers to have as they spearhead their team. It requires being able to seek out the information necessary to formulate plans. It’s the ability to use metrics and other data to drive decisions and predict outcomes. Being able to break down a broad vision into specific sales goals with a clear direction is part of what makes a good sales manager.
An analytical mind has the ability to provide context and dig deeper into what the data shows. For example, exploring why there are changes in client retention and sales numbers are part of the strategic process moving forward. A strong sales manager doesn’t accept things at surface level. They always seek to understand the root cause of problems to provide sustainable solutions.
The idea of delegation is one that can be challenging, especially for new sales managers. It may feel habitual to take on as much as possible. However, this approach quickly backfires and doesn’t give the team a chance to step up and take command of their roles. It can also easily lead to burnout and change the dynamic of the team along with the level of engagement with clients.
Identifying the strengths of a team and delegating tasks appropriately allows everyone to work better together. Delegation helps to streamline processes and free up time to focus on future growth and success. It allows sales managers to empower their team to take on larger roles and more important responsibilities.
Strong Interpersonal Communication
Every sales manager job description, regardless of industry, lists strong communication skills. Strong communication skills range from being able to productively conduct team meetings as well as provide targeted feedback and direction to their sales staff. It requires knowing how to craft an informative email in addition to presenting a sales report for C-level members. An individual in this role must know how to communicate effectively by using the right medium at the right time. For managers, knowing what to say and how to say it are equally important. Active listening to anticipate needs and thoughtful feedback to promote progress has proven to be essential in management.
The sales manager must work with others in order to fulfill company objectives as well as sales team goals. The ability to communicate progress, strategy, and needs of the sales team is an integral part of the role and requires strong interpersonal communication.
Strategic Planning and Forecasting Abilities
Strategic planning and forecasting are critical sales management skills. Delivering a high level of sales predictability is important to the success of any sales team. A great sales manager knows how to leverage and analyze the data from their CRM to create sales plans and goals customized by role and objective.
This skill can be improved upon with time and experience. For example, an entry-level sales representative may be solely focused on achieving their monthly sales quota. They’ve not yet reached the level where they’re invested in executing on a long-term sales strategy to maintain high sales performance among the team. As a leader, the ability to plan and forecast strengthens the impact sales has on the business as a whole.
Time management is significant in maintaining effectiveness, especially in sales. Breaking down tasks into time blocks can be helpful in guiding a team. It gives them focused areas to make the most of their time. These general areas often include:
- Training and coaching
- Planning and forecasting
- Account management
- Oversee and streamline sales processes
What percentage of time is necessary for each? Additionally, how does allocation differ between sales staff? More experienced sales members might lend a greater portion of time to sales coaching and forecasting. Meanwhile, those who are building their experience may focus on account management and organizing sales processes.
Limiting meetings is also part of implementing good time management. Not every situation calls for a full-scale meeting. Some problems can be fixed more quickly in an email, chat, or phone call. A meeting should always have a set agenda and objective. This makes it clear to everyone involved what’s expected and what they need to prepare in advance.
Managing others successfully calls for the ability to motivate. The ability to connect with individuals in a way that inspires change or promotes growth is critical. This is one of the key sales management skills that hiring managers look for when hiring someone for the role.
A sales management position requires being able to unite a sales team to meet common goals. This is achieved through one-on-one coaching, team building, and demonstrated self-improvement as a sales leader. Part of being motivational involves being honest and transparent when mentoring a team to reach a higher level of performance.
Reliability and Commitment
A sales manager role must be filled by an individual who demonstrates reliability and commitment. How does a person show up for themselves and their team?
Those in leadership know they get to support the wins of a team, but they are usually held largely responsible for the losses, too. Demonstrating strong commitment through ups and downs in the industry and company is critical. It creates a sense of stability and security. This also instills confidence and a greater sense of camaraderie, which is beneficial to a team’s success.
Ability to Coach and Mentor
A sales manager role is crucial in growing the strength of the entire team. The ability to identify each sales member’s strengths and weaknesses and coach them to improve over time is valuable. This requires mentorship through collaboration and constructive feedback.
Creating a growth plan for each sales rep is as important as creating the overall growth plan of driving revenue for the company. These two things are interlinked. The better a person takes control of their role, the more of an asset they are to a business.
A personalized growth plan could include steps to help perfect a sales pitch or working with a sales rep to become more comfortable when presenting. It includes providing the tools and resources necessary to achieve a higher performance level. Above all, coaching is about cheering on progress and helping each person advance in their careers.
Advancing to a Leadership Role
What skills do you need to be a sales manager? To be seen as a leader, mastering these skills is a good place to start. Hiring managers look for these when determining the best fit for the role.
Making the transition from a sales rep to a sales manager takes on a whole new set of responsibilities and expectations. Knowing which skills have been acquired and which need work shows the promise of a strong leader. That’s why the experts at Janek offer sales management training. This training program offers all the skills and lessons you need to successfully guide your team to its goals.