Ten top tips for Sales Managers

I believe that a career in sales can be one of the most rewarding professions and I am often asked what it takes to be a great leader in the sales function. With this in mind, I decided to write about what I think it takes to succeed and have a hardworking, high performing sales force.

In my experience, there are four key cornerstones that any great sales manager will adhere to:

  1. Great sales managers enjoy and revel in the success of others more than any success of their own. I often refer to this as the selfless versus the selfish. Great sales people are often selfish; great sales managers are always selfless.
  2. Great sales managers love what they do, and you can tell. Ever worked for a great sales manager who lacked passion and enthusiasm? I don’t think so!
  3. Leading by example and doing the right thing is not an option, it is a prerequisite of success for any great sales manager – ask Steve Smith, former Australian cricket captain. Sales managers are often placed in compromising situations; great sales managers have no difficulty in taking the right path.
  4. Sales people don’t quit companies, they quit poor managers. Great sales managers have incredible success at retaining their best sales people.

As well as these cornerstones, I believe that to be a great sales manager you need to have the following characteristics, so you can lead from the front:

Below are the ten characteristics that I look for in great sales managers: 

  1. They are a little bit scary
  • People respect great sales managers so much, they don’t want to let them down
  • They fearlessly confront issues and have difficult conversations
  • They don’t rant and rave, they express genuine disappointment – they have an edge!
  1. They are passionate and proud
  • They take pride in everything they do
  • They set the standards and expect others to follow
  1. They are always positive
  • This does not mean they are laughing all the time; they are always upbeat
  • In difficult situations they will look for solutions and not ponder on the problem
  • When they feel a little downbeat, they find the time and space to reflect before they respond or burden others with negative feelings
  1. They know their numbers
  • They know their numbers better than anyone else
  • Even more importantly, they know what the numbers mean and what action to take to improve them
  • They are great at spotting the early signs of success or failure
  1. They are a technology leader
  • This is more important today than at any point in the past. They understand the importance of technology and embrace it wherever possible to make the sales process more efficient
  • They make sure they understand new technology before asking others to use it
  • They are technology leaders, not followers
  1. They make others successful
  • They strive day in and day out to make others successful – it is their mission
  • When members of their team are underperforming, they will do everything they can (and often more) to help boost their performance
  • They are not precious about their own success and they understand that this will eventually come from the success of others
  • Importantly, they are always on the lookout for new talent – recruitment is proactive, not reactive
  1. They monitor, discuss and manage performance 
  • They make absolutely sure that everyone in their team knows exactly what is expected of them
  • They meet regularly with their team members to discuss performance in an open and transparent way
  • They look for opportunities to say thank you and well done
  • They are never afraid to discuss and manage underperformance and this is always delivered in a fair and firm way
  1. They observe carefully
  • They make time to frequently observe people doing their job – this is not a chore. It’s a great opportunity to help improve performance
  • When they see good things, they note exactly what they have seen and say well done as soon as possible
  • When they see less good things, they note exactly what they have seen and address any issues arising as soon as possible
  1. They have great temperament
  • They are consistent in all their dealings – there is no roller coaster of emotions here
  • They are naturally kind and giving but this is never to be confused with weakness or complacency
  • You always know where you stand with them
  1. They have fun 
  • They are great at celebrating success
  • They can make you laugh even when you least expect it
  • They understand that a happy working environment is almost always a successful environment

I can help you with your sales development. Contact me for a free consultation.