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September 30, 2022

How to Be a Great Sales Manager? 5 Key Skills all Highly Effective Sales Managers Share

Becoming a sale manager is an exciting move. While the position comes with many perks, it also comes with new challenges that you may not have anticipated. A sales manager’s day-to-day is filled with responsibilities in a very different way than the day-to-day of being a sales associate.

A sales manager is responsible for their team’s performance, career growth, and promotion of their team members. The role of a sales manager is challenging, especially if you are new to management and leadership positions.

You may think that you know what being a sales manager takes, but there’s no better way to learn than by putting yourself in this position and seeing how you measure up.

Highly effective sales managers are the ones who  quickly realize that the skills and tactics you leveraged to become a great sales associate are not necessarily the key skills of a sales manager. It’s like the popular quote, “what got you here won’t get you there.”

So, with that in mind, here are 5 sales management tips to help answer the question, "how to be a great sales manager?"

In this article, we will identify the key strategies and tactics you need to embrace to become a highly effective sales manager. 

How to Be a Great Sales Manager - CS- Key Skills of Sales Manager

Building Trust: The Most Important Quality of a Great Sales Manager

So, what makes a great sales manager?

As a new manager you might be focusing on sales manager techniques and how to develop management skills; which yes, is very important. But remember that when it comes to managing people, first and foremost, it’s all about relationships. So, the most important quality of a great sales manager is that they can quickly build trust with the members of their team.

Trust is the foundation of any great relationship, be it a friendship or a business partnership.

An effective sales manager builds trust in their team members by showing them that they are there to support them, coach them, and help them find success.

Here are several ways you can build trust as a sales manager:

Encourage Open & Honest Communication

While this can seem like a no-brainer, we’ve all been in work environments that felt toxic, confrontational, overly competitive, or full or drama.

In these types of work environments, employees withdraw and are fearful of sharing any honest feedback or opinions, which erodes trust and leads to a negative feedback loop.

As a sales manager, it is your job to make it clear that you are open to honest communication so that your team feels heard, valued, and respected.

Lead the way by letting your team know it’s ok to challenge you. This does not mean you have to let your team override your decisions yet sets a tone that they have input in the process.

Walk Your Talk

Now that you’re a sales manager, it may be tempting to take the approach that you’ve earned the right to detach, but being a sales manager is about more than just delegating tasks and giving feedback. Sales managers that operate this way lose will the trust and respect of their team.

As a manager, it's important to lead by example, showing your team that you are a competent sales professional who not only understands what it takes to effectively execute the hard sales skills, but is willing to mentor and share your hard earned expertise with the team.

Lead Consistently

A surefire way to lose the trust of your team is to manage your team inconsistently. Broken promises, team favorites, and people-pleasing all lead to resentment and distrust.

When people are not sure what to expect from day to day they withdraw and think only about protecting themselves. However, when a leader manages with consistency in their words, their actions, and their expectations it creates a common vision and a sense of connectedness that builds trust among your sales team.

Sales turnover is at an all-time high while the "salesperson" role is one of the most in-demand jobs in the world today. That means if your top performers don’t feel connected to your team or feel like they are in a high-trust environment they have plenty of other options.

It is a strength of a sales manager to build trust within their team, developing loyal and committed salespeople.

Are you a Highly-Effective Sales Manager?

The best sales leaders are able to manage their emotions so they can continue to execute the right coaching and training skills. Take the following quick assessment to find out what areas you can address to sharpen your sales management skills.

Great Sales Managers Hire and Onboard the Right Salespeople

If you want to be a great sales manager, you must hire the right salespeople. This can be challenging, but it is one of the most important strengths of a sales manager.

Hiring the right people is critical to the success of your team. Hiring the right candidates will ensure that you don’t have to play catch-up with unproductive employees or ones who don’t fit in with the rest of the team.

You’ve probably heard the phrase "one bad apple spoils the bunch." Well, when it comes to your sales team, just one bad hire can lead to long-term, devastating results. Your team is only as strong as its weakest member–and just one toxic teammate can negatively impact even your best high performers. In the world of emotional intelligence, it’s called
emotional contagion. People “catch” the emotions of others, good or bad. 

As a sales leader, you can ensure you hire the right people by having a clear hiring and onboarding process in place.

Here are a few hiring tips for sales managers:

  • Spend time to clearly outline your expectations before you hire anyone
  • Hire people that will be a good cultural fit for your organization
  • A strong sales manager isn’t afraid to hire someone who may be a better salesperson
  • Don’t forget about EQ – Self-aware, emotionally intelligent salespeople can become your high performers. Consider using an EQ based personality assessment, such as the EQi 2.0 assessment, for potential candidates.

How to Be a Great Sales Manager - The Key Skills for Sales Manager

Great Sales Managers Provide Effective and Useful Feedback

Once you have hired the right people and guided them on the right path, it is now your job to help them advance. Being a sales manager means being a coach to your sales team; And this includes the ability to provide effective feedback.

There’s no one right way to give feedback, but there are a few guidelines to follow.

  • Ask Permission: Asking permission before launching into a critique will help mentally prepare your team member to effectively receive feedback. 

  • Be Timely: If an employee is doing something wrong, it’s best to address it as soon as possible instead of giving the negative action time to become a habit.

  • Give Feedback as a Group: It can be easy for one person to feel singled out for negative feedback. When you give feedback as a group, it makes it easier for the recipient of that feedback to take it in.

  • Stop and Listen: Part of giving effective feedback is pausing to allow the recipient a chance to respond. If you want your feedback to take root, you must show the recipient you are willing to listen to their perspective.

  • Suggest Clear Next Steps: When providing feedback, don’t just state that they are doing something wrong. Outline small, realistic actions they can take to correct the behavior. This clear path forward will help the recipient know exactly what steps to take to start meeting expectations.

How to Be a Great Sales Manager - Strategic Sales Management

Great Sales Managers Define Their Team’s Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When considering “how to be a great sales manager,” remember your job is to not only help your employees reach their goals but to help them set sales goals. It is not enough to be your team’s boss, you must also be their sales leader.

Set aside time each quarter to sit down with each member of your team to help them set and achieve both short-term and long-term goals.

An effective sales manager helps their team set goals that are both challenging and achievable. They will also help their team set metrics to measure the progress that they are making towards these goals.

Making sure your team is working towards a common goal will not only help them succeed in their own goals, but will also help your team succeed as a whole.

When working with your sales team to set sales goals, consider the following:

  • Sales Goals Should be Measurable: As I always say, you can’t change what you can’t measure. With that in mind, a good sales goal is one that can be tracked and measured using consistent metrics and data points. If possible, start by establishing a baseline so that each month you can track the progress of the goal.

  • Sales Goals Must Be Achievable: When mentoring your team members on goal setting, it is important that the goals they select are realistically achievable. The simple truth is, sales reps will stop working toward a goal if they feel like they can’t realistically achieve it.

  • Sales Goals Must Be a Challenge: While we want sales goals to be achievable, they still must challenge our sales team to grow and stretch. You are looking for that sweet spot between realistic and challenging to keep your team excited and motivated about tackling these sales goals.

How to Be a Great Sales Manager - What Makes a Good Sales Manager

Great Sales Managers Encourage Growth and Personal Development

No matter how experienced your team members are, everyone wants to know there is a plan for their career growth and development. That said, every salesperson is unique and will have different factors that are impacting how they want to develop and grow their career.

Some may aspire to enter management one day, while others what to become the top producer in their region. And some may be happy simply learning a new skill or taking on a new responsibility.

When working with your sales team to outline a roadmap for their individual growth, be sure to consider the following:

  • Don’t Forget to Ask: Don’t assume that every sales team member strives to become a manager one day. People are different and all at different phases of their lives. Have the conversation and find out exactly want they are looking for when it comes to career growth.

  • Not all Training Is Equal: Companies invest thousands of dollars each year on sales training, unfortunately not all sales courses are created equal. When considering a sales course, look for one that takes a holistic approach focusing on the hard skills, as well as the soft skills required to be an effective sales professional.

  • Don’t Only Focus on Sales Skills: While understanding how to effectively execute sales tactics and strategies is critical to becoming a top-performing sales professional, there are other skills your team must master to be successful, including time management, technology, written communication, and adaptability.

Bonus Skill: Great Sales Managers Start By Leading Themselves

Still wondering, "how to be a great sales manager?" Well, when it comes to building the strengths of a sales manager, a skill that is essential but often overlooked is the ability to lead one's self. How can anyone be expected to successfully lead a team if they aren't yet capable of leading themself?

Effectively leading one's self starts with self-awareness. The more self-aware a leader is, the better they will be at managing themselves and others.

As a sales manager, if you are looking to boost your self-awareness to become better at leading yourself and others, consider a sales management training course that focuses on developing the right blend of EQ and IQ skills to make you a highly effective sales leader.

Summing Up How to Be a Great Sales Manager

Becoming a manager is one of the most exciting and rewarding career moves a sales associate can make. It comes with many perks. However, it also comes with new challenges that you may not have anticipated.

The role of a sales manager is challenging, especially if you are new to management and leadership positions. You may think that you know what it takes to manage people but there’s no better way to learn than by putting yourself in this position and seeing how you measure up.

These sales manager tips will help you answer the question, "how to be a great sales manager", allowing you to manage your sales team more effectively by developing them as individuals and making them productive as part of your team.

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