The Pressure to Succeed
Wouldn’t it be nice to know the traits of successful sales managers? Sales managers have an awesome responsibility. They must motivate their team to achieve very concrete sales targets and do so under the constant pressure of executives who are impatient with excuses and for whom failure is no option.
The Job of a Sales Manager
When we ask CEOs, they tell us they expect sales managers to blend the skills of an understanding and collaborative Super Bowl winning coach with the drive and absolute focus of a top military general. Their role is a demanding one. The best leaders of solution selling teams deserve our respect and also our study so we can determine the common traits of successful sales managers.
The Top Seven Traits of Successful Sales Managers
Having been on all sides of solution selling for nearly thirty years—from newbie seller to team leader to CEO—we have developed a list of the top traits of successful sales managers. The top performing sales managers are:
1. Strategic Thinkers
Sales managers need to do more than follow a sales plan. They need to be able to devise a clear and compelling go-to-market sales strategy that is fully aligned with where the business and the marketplace are headed. They need to think systemically, create a high performing team, ruthlessly prioritize and help their customers to succeed.
2. Great Communicators and Coaches
The best sales managers are able to set out clear expectations for their team and to coach individual team members to adopt the behaviors that win. They are available and ready to help when needed and they know how to adapt their own communication style to the styles of the individuals they coach.
3. Effective Recruiters
To build a high performing sales team, you need to know what sales competencies are required and what sales attitudes promote success. Sales managers don’t settle when they hire; they hire only those that fit their profile of “A” sales players. They are patient and discriminating. They do not accept second best.
Good sales managers never lose sight of the desired outcomes. They are ruthless in expecting their team to do the same. Sales targets matter and there are few good excuses for missing them.
5. Structured and Process-oriented
Great sales managers rely upon a proven sales methodology, sales process and sales system that work. It doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, the simpler, the better. But the sales process should be accepted and followed by all on the team. This promotes better cooperation, transparency and outcomes.
Managers of successful sales teams are not intimidated by data. They keep track of everything from sales activities to revenue and know what part of the process to tweak when results fall short.
6. Good Role Models
The best sales managers have “been there, done that.” They work hard and expect others to do the same. They lead by example. As experienced role models, they earn the respect of their team.
Experienced sales managers understand how to hold themselves and their team members accountable. There are individual and collective goals that tie to the overall business strategy. There are consequences, both positive and negative, for reaching or failing to reach them. Every member of the team should know exactly what role they play in achieving team objectives.
The Bottom Line
The job of a sales manager is not for the faint of heart. But there’s the challenge. If you can measure up, you have the opportunity to inspire your team, meet or exceed the revenue targets and gain the respect of the entire company.
Is your team struggling to meet targets? Download The 4 Most Important Attributes to Look for When Sales Reps Miss Their Targets
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