If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in the process of hiring or you’ve just been promoted to a sales management position. Fun times! As you think about the type of leader you’d like to hire or become, it’s important to understand the qualities and attributes that make a great sales team manager.
B2B sales is more challenging than ever before. Sales reps have fewer opportunities to make an impression on buyers. On average, buyers have 27 information-gathering sessions before they even meet with a sales rep. And when buyers interact with sellers, they expect them to be knowledgeable about their industry and product. In the 2021 LinkedIn State of Sales report, 44% of buyers stated that they prefer well-informed sellers who can guide them through the purchase process.
In order to build relationships with fewer opportunities to engage buyers, sales managers and their teams have their work cut out for them. Great sales team managers can excel in this challenging landscape by motivating their teams, leading by example, and finding opportunities for their reps to grow and improve.
In this post, we’ll share the attributes that we believe make a great sales manager, and how you can help your sales teams reach new heights.
How to be an effective sales manager
Many of the best sales team managers started off as sales reps themselves. Their strong work ethic, ability and willingness to learn, and relationship-building skills helped them to work their way up the ranks. Effective sales managers understand the nuances of being a sales rep because they’ve been there before. By developing skills as a sales development rep (SDR), sales managers can coach and help their team build the skills they need to hit their sales goals.
If you’re ready to build your dream team of sales reps, these are the eight skills we think you need to get started. Let’s check them out!
1. Lead by example
“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” It’s a great quote, but it doesn’t quite work in sales. In order to be an effective sales manager, you need to be able to do, as well as teach your team. As I mentioned before, most sales managers start out as SDRs and rise through the ranks by hitting their sales targets and developing the skills they need to take their game to the next level.
Great sales managers are often great because they lead by example. Their experience makes it easier for them to guide their teams. Great leaders are successful because they are willing to sacrifice their time in order to help their reps develop the skills and tools they need to be successful.
2. Communicate with your team
Communication is key to success in any leadership role. As more organizations adopt flexible work environments and sales cycles become more complex, communication is more important than ever. In order to lead effectively, sales managers need to communicate objectives and align their team on how they will achieve their goals. Team huddles, one-to-one meetings, and chats on Slack or Teams allow sales team managers to communicate with their teams and ensure that they’re available to their reps anytime, anywhere.
3. Motivate your team
Communication is more than speaking to your team and sharing the vision for success. Great sales managers also motivate their teams to take the right pathway to success. This is done by preaching hard work, helping to develop the skills necessary for success, and offering feedback. Motivating your team can be as simple as acknowledging success and demonstrating how digging deeper can elevate performance even more. A great manager recognizes that encouragement goes a long way and isn’t afraid to constantly push their team to exceed expectations.
4. Have a strategic vision
To be great, it takes more than a consistent sales team that routinely hits quota. Sales managers who are strategic-minded find ways to take their company to achieve sales excellence. In practice, this consists of optimized automation, sales tools, and procedures. Continuously bolstering your technology and tools with a detailed sales management process is the key to growth. Along with this, incorporating new metrics and incentive systems to reward high-performing reps is another way a great manager will expand their team’s quota.
5. Carry yourself with integrity
Say what you mean and do what you say. There is no better way to earn respect than leading with character and making the right decisions. How a manager acts and carries themself often reflects on the rest of the team. Great managers realize that they are constantly being assessed and looked to for guidance, and they don’t take advantage of their leadership position. They perform every day to the best of their ability and expect the same out of their reps.
6. Ability to coach
Sales managers who can communicate and identify growth opportunities can be excellent sales coaches. When each individual rep succeeds, the business does, as well. In order to do so, great sales managers identify opportunities for their sales reps to grow and improve. By staying invested in the development and success of your reps, you can see what works and what doesn’t, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. A rep’s weaknesses are areas where they can grow and mature over time. Their strengths are the attributes that make them successful, and great sales managers leverage their reps’ strengths in order to put them in a position to hit their numbers.
7. Track the performance of your sales team
Great sales managers monitor the performance of their reps to identify opportunities for improvement. There are several metrics they can use to measure readiness and success. For example, a sales manager needs to know their team’s average ramp time in order to understand how prepared they are to sell. They also need to know average deal time and time spent selling to understand how productive their reps are during deal cycles. By monitoring the performance of their reps, sales team managers can ensure that their team’s efforts are on track and find ways to course-correct when necessary.
8. Celebrate your team’s successes
A lot of hard work goes into closing a deal or hitting quarterly goals. Winning is great for morale, and celebrating successes is one way to keep your team motivated. When your team wins – big or small – take a moment to celebrate them. By fostering a winning culture and acknowledging success, you’ll inspire your team to continue pursuing new heights.
Every sales team manager has their own strengths and weaknesses. Their leadership styles will vary based on their personality and preferences. We believe that sales leaders who follow the 8 tips listed above will develop strong relationships with their reps and potentially usher in the next class of sales leaders.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can become a strong sales team manager, check out our eBook, Major League Sales Coaching.