The Essential Attributes of Successful Sales Managers

Promoting your top sales people into management can have a disastrous impact on your sales organisation.

The single most common mistake that organisations make is promoting their number one sales person into the role of sales manager, thereby depriving themselves in a single stroke of their best producer and hamstringing their sales force with an ineffective manager.

The skills required for managing, mentoring and developing a sales team are totally different from those required for selling. As a result, it’s not uncommon to find newly promoted sales managers who regret having taken a management position and may even leave to get back into sales.

When a sales person gains promotion to management the first thing they have to do is to quickly acquaint themselves with a new set of working relationships and a new set of rules.

The sales person’s primary working relationships are with customers. However the sales manager’s is with the sales force i.e. his subordinates. Let’s look at that a little more closely:

Essential Attributes OF A Successful Sales person:

  • Personal drive (ego)
  • Needs to win battles (individual sales)
  • Able to work alone
  • Persuades customers to see their point
  • Needs selling skills, personal skills and knowledge
  • Able to work away from the office
  • Works well with people and numbers
  • Good at implementing sales tactics.

Essential Attributes OF A Successful Sales Manager:

  • Submission of personal needs to the goals of the company (corporate drive)
  • Needs to win the war (meet corporate goals)
  • Able to work with others
  • Persuades the sales team to see the company’s point
  • Needs management skills and marketing knowledge
  • Needs to work at the office
  • Works well with people, numbers, paperwork and the corporate hierarchy
  • Good at developing sales and marketing strategies.

A Totally Different Skillset

The most common danger in having sales managers who are basically super sales people is that “relations with subordinates,” including the critical tasks of development and supervision, may deteriorate.

Even when they do recognise the importance of developing their sales people, many sales managers find that they lack the skills and resources to do it effectively. It then becomes easier not to bother.

The majority of sales managers – new and experienced alike – say they do not have sufficient time to train and develop their sales teams.

They are so focused on sales results – and so accustomed to achieving success through their personal pursuit of those results – that they overlook their greatest potential source of power, the power to increase sales performance by developing their people.

To make things worse, most sales teams consist of a number of individuals with differing levels of experience and ability, so the whole issue of team development becomes too daunting for the overwhelmed manager to contemplate.

Sadly, this is a common scenario, and goes some way to explaining why levels of sales achievement are declining so alarmingly.