The following is an overview of what it takes to to become a successful sales manager.
The biggest challenge in becoming a successful sales manager is letting go of the urge to sell and focusing on providing direction and allowing your sales people to do the selling. However, that is not to say that this is the only challenge on the path to becoming a successful sales manager. The following overview of what it takes to excel in a sales manager role can help you overcome these obstacles and turn challenge into opportunity.
This is a good principle to follow in any position in sales, but somehow many sales managers forget how important it is to listen in order to truly understand and target a problem. If you spend more time listening to your sales team than speaking to them, you will be able to spend your energies more efficiently, with better results on your road to becoming a successful sales manager. Be sure to:
Every sales person on your team has a different set of skills, experiences, strengths, and weaknesses. While some incentives and coaching strategies will have universal results, in other cases you will find that at least one sales person needs additional assistance in a given area. If you know your sales team members as individuals, you can be a successful sales manager by providing direction where each sales person needs it the most.
A successful sales manager is one who is not afraid to reach for ambitious targets and who also recognizes that setting targets that are achievable is a strong motivator for a sales team. Goal setting is an important aspect of the sales management role, and setting distinct goals for the team as a whole as well as for individual sales people helps the team pull together and understand on a personal level where contributions need to be made. To be a successful sales manager, provide achievable but competitive goals for your sales team so that your team never lacks direction.
Asking your sales team for input on decisions is one of the best ways to keep your team engaged and focused on the big picture. Your front line sales people are experiencing your organization’s market on a micro level, and can share novel perspectives that can help your entire team on its road to success. Let your sales team know that you are always open to suggestions, and approach individual sales people on a regular basis to ask their opinions and ideas about topics that are impacting your business.
A successful sales manager truly has a cross-functional role, which involves coordinating plans, strategies, and activities with numerous other departments including marketing, accounting, and operations. Sales managers who neglect to form strong relationships with peers and executives in these departments may find that the sales team lacks support where it is needed, or that the sales team is prevented from providing input to major decisions. Work to achieve these relationships early in your sales management career to ensure that your sales team can draw on the resources it needs to succeed and support your drive to be a successful sales manager.
Becoming a successful sales manager can require more effort than becoming a successful sales person, and successful sales managers must continually and consistently follow best practices in order to stay on top. However, the value and the reward of seeing your sales team succeed and meet new targets can not be overestimated. Commit to a long term plan to develop your skills and approach to becoming a successful sales manager to realize your personal career goals.
Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.