What elements do world-class sales managers have in common?

Monika Götzmann looks at the traits of succssful sales managers.

Sales managers have one of the most important roles in any sales organisation, because they oversee the sales team itself. As a result, they have a role to play in hiring new talent, retaining existing talent and ensuring all salespeople have the required skills and knowledge to carry out their role effectively. 

For this reason, it is essential that sales managers are given the right level of support, but equally crucial that the right candidates are selected for the role in the first place. In this article, let’s examine the various elements that world-class sales managers have in common with one another.

They are able to multi-task

The ability to multi-task is fundamental to achieving success in a sales management role. After all, rather than simply managing sales, the role of a sales manager is to manage people.

CSO Insights used its 2017 Sales Manager Enablement Report to highlight the complex nature of a sales manager’s role. In it, the company identified three core groups that need to be managed simultaneously: sales teams, corporate management and customers.

Success requires consistency and consequences on all levels. Managers must coach salespeople to ensure that they use the available sales tools and resources most effectively.

A sales manager must spend face-to-face time with customers, whether that means assisting with a sale or dealing with a complaint. They must also bridge the gap between sale teams and senior company management, functioning as a liaison between the two, and are responsible for recruitment, on-boarding and delivering feedback to sales staff.

They facilitate effective use of tools and resources

Another important element that world-class sales managers have in common is the ability to ensure their sales staff make effective use of the various tools and resources available to them. However, in addition to assisting with things like sales training, there must also be a willingness to shoulder the overall responsibility for results.

In the 2017 CSO Insights World-Class Sales Practices Report, sales managers being held accountable for the effective use of sales tools and resources by their team was identified as one of the 12 best practices or sales behaviours that helped to define ‘world-class’ performance and had the sixth highest correlation significance score.

“Success requires consistency and consequences on all levels,” the report states. “Managers must coach salespeople to ensure that they use the available sales tools and resources most effectively. The key is helping salespeople use the tools in a practical way to improve productivity.”

They assist with training and coaching

Next, truly effective sales managers take on an active role in delivering high-quality sales coaching and training, so they can provide their teams with the required skills, knowledge and behaviours to succeed.

Crucially, when it comes to training or coaching salespeople, world-class sales managers know what they can and cannot manage. Processes, activities and behaviours can be managed and affected directly. Results and performance can only be measured. To explain this concept, CSO Insights created the sales manager’s mantra.

Therefore, the best sales managers understand the importance of focusing on leading indicators, like activities behaviours, and trying to influence them through things like sales or negotiation training. This will then have a knock-on effect on lagging indicators, like sales performance.

They receive regular training themselves

In addition to having a key role to play in delivering sales or negotiation training, world-class sales managers receive high-quality training themselves. Crucially, this training is not simply delivered at the start of their employment as a sales manager, but is delivered continuously throughout their time in the role.

There is a direct correlation between investment in sales manager training and overall sales performance, with quota attainment, revenue attainment and win rates all increasing in response to annual investment of $5,000 or more.

They communicate objectives and strategy

Finally, world-class sales managers possess the ability to effectively communicate company objectives and more specific aspects of sales strategy, and understand the importance of doing so. 

When salespeople have a clear sense of purpose and an appreciation for the importance of their role, they are more likely to remain motivated and productive. In addition, conveying objectives and strategy can help with on-boarding, allowing new hires to achieve faster ramp up times by gaining a clearer sense of why they are there.


About the author

Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group. She likes to share insights on sales and customer services skills necessary for global customer service mindset. 




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