What Makes A Great Sales Manager

What makes a good sales manager ? The answer is in this post which is the next in our Lucy Walker series where we share the skills, attributes and traits of high performers in the various commercial roles our clients recruit for. 

[Hint: If you are a sales manager looking for a new position this post will be worth reading too.] 


Are Sales Managers Really That Important? 

The short answer is an emphatic; YES!

Though great salespeople are vital to an organisations growth, the sales managers that lead, direct, motivate, and train salespeople will make the difference between a team coming in at 115% of target or missing revenues and goals by a mile! 

That is why it’s imperative to get this critical position right for your organisation.

Below are a number of key traits that over 30 years recruiting here at Lucy Walker Recruitment we have experienced time and time again, make the difference between a good or average sales manager. 


They Have Experience Selling Successfully  

 Sales Growth


During this time we have became fully aware that a sales team has little respect for managers that have no idea how to sell. Unfortunately, credibility for this individual will be at an all-time low if that is the case. Thinking of placing a dynamic graduate into a critical sales manager role? Think again. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. 

Salespeople are often referred to as a ‘different breed’, and that is for a good reason. Gaining their respect is critical to influencing and managing their performance. 


They Embrace the T.E.A.M. Ethos 


Teamwork dreamwork


Though it’s imperative to have good sales skills as a sales manager, it’s essential to use this knowledge and expertise to help point the way for others and not to jump in every time a salesperson they manage is struggling. 

Great sales managers also understand that being a great salesperson is very different to excelling as a sale manager. 

The team ethos is important because the fact is; together everyone can achieve more.  

Why? Because when you provide a team with the right direction, tools, training, messaging, and technology they are then able to enable/support their customers to informed buying decisions. 


They Understand Business And The Power Of Process


Business Process 

Though the ‘gift of the gab’ is a well-known saying given to salespeople, it's only a tiny part of the sales success conversations. Good sales managers understand that sales are made by a system, and the process followed consistently. 

A good sales manager will have the ability to develop effective sales processes that clearly define expectations for their sales team and provide a set of meaningful KPIs they can use to 
manage the processes 


They Understand People And Relationships 

 Business Relationships


From the film Glengarry Glen Ross came Alec Baldwin’s famous quote; ‘always be closing’, followed by ‘coffee’s for closers’; not exactly the most sympathetic sales manager of all time who had zero empathy for others or any understanding of how to motivate people. 

Sales are all about relationships and providing value. Therefore sales managers must understand their salespeople and know how to motivate, cajole, encourage and give direction to their sales team. 


They Know When To Coach Train Or Performance Manage 


high performing teams-1


The fact is no matter what any of us might think salespeople can and do suffer from up and down days. Who wouldn’t feel low after experiencing sales rejection twenty or thirty times a day? 

A friendly instructive chat with a sales manager who understands what it’s like can make all the difference. 

However, sometimes a pattern emerges and no matter how encouraging a sales manager might be sales representatives need coaching or their performance managing. 

If performance issues go unchecked, sales can drop as can sales team morale. 

The fact is many sales managers shy away from confronting salespeople who are not performing. It is up to the sales manager to have milestones to address performance issues and develop a plan of action to correct the problem. Asking for examples of how a sales manager might handle this situation at interview can be very telling. 


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Hiring Abilities 

 Hiring 2


It ‘should’ go without saying that good sales managers are able to recruit people to their team who possess the skills and experience to succeed in their specific sales role. 

As all salespeople aren’t equal, neither are all sales roles. This is often where mistakes happen unless you have a good recruiting process in place where critical criteria for the position are identified. 

For instance selling houses is very different to selling window blinds or Lockheed jets. For example, some product or service sales are transactional while others have a long sales cycle. 

As a general rule, many salespeople struggle to make the transition between these two distinct positions no matter how hard they ‘try’ to persuade everyone they can. 


What Next? 

In summary sales, managers are vital to your organisational growth. If you would like help recruiting for your next sales manager role or you are looking to move to a growing organisation do get in touch.

Email us here or alternatively, call Leeds 0113 367 2880.


About the Author: Lucy Walker

Lucy Walker is the founder and Managing Director at Lucy Walker Recruitment.Lucy has an extensive knowledge of the issues and workings of the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester Commercial markets developed over 25 years in the profession