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First of all, what is a Sales Manager?

It’s someone who has representatives report back to them. In other words, a Sales Manager who has no reps reporting back to them is not a manager. Some organizations will want to give someone the title of Sales Manager to add more weight to a person’s role when in reality they are a salesperson.

Other titles for this position are:

  • Sales Manager
  • Sales Director
  • Sales Executive
  • Sales and Marketing Director
  • Sales Manager (B2C) 

Responsibilities of a Sales Manager

A Sales Manager’s primary responsibilities are divided into 4 categories of skills and abilities.

First Category

A Sales Manager must:

  • Have strong coaching skills, since a Sales Manager must dedicate half of his time to coaching his or her sales representatives.
  • Be trustworthy and deserving of respect. Without trust and respect, sales leadership is ineffective.
  • Be able to develop relationships strong enough to impact and influence the salespeople, but not so close that they aren’t motivated to meet a challenge
  • Be disciplined
  • Be committed to the team members’ success – if the representatives achieve their goals, so do the Sales Managers
  • Have a coaching process (sequence) and be able to explain it
  • Coach in context
  • Be able to see flaws in their representatives’ actions
  • Know how to ask questions – a lot of them, and the right ones
  • Be able to detect representatives’ blind spots – the weaknesses they’re not aware of. Because each representative has his or her own Sales DNA, each’s beliefs and habits can hinder the execution of a sale. For example, they have a difficulty talking about money. Sales Managers must have worked on their blind spots to identify those of their representatives. A Manager’s personal beliefs and Sales DNA have a huge influence on the quality of their management. I see many Sales Managers whose own limiting beliefs neutralize their ability to have an impact on their representatives’ performance. Without the ability to recognize and work on their own blind spots, they may end up transmitting flaws and weaknesses that their representatives didn’t have initially.
  • Remain skeptical and assume that everything the sales team does isn’t perfect. For example, even after a team’s win, the coach may still be unsatisfied with some of the playing styles or how the game was played. We often hear the coach’s skepticism during the post-game press conferences. The coach won’t be complacent and say, “Good job guys, you did great.” He says it when it’s true, but his job is to detect flaws which probably didn’t cost them this game, but will maybe cost them the next one. It is this perpetual dissatisfaction which a Sales Manager must have to raise the bar in their team’s performance.
  • Know what motivates each representative individually
  • Know each representative’s personal goals
  • Have a process to motivate his or her salespeople 

Second Category

A Sales Manager must:

  • Manage sales performance and everything related to pipeline management
  • Make sure sales cycles stay within their usual timeline
  • Know the conversion and closing ratios and act on them if necessary
  • Be focused on results and goal achievement

Third Category

A Sales Manager must:

  • Manage activities and behaviours that will help generate revenue
  • Know how to use a sales process
  • Have aptitudes in math and finance
  • Devise reliable sales forecasts and apply them to the company’s financial projections 

Fourth Category

A Sales Manager must:

  • Be able to set clear expectations and clear consequences when they aren’t met (accountability cycles)
  • Have excellent recruiting skills. Great recruitment will improve the quality of the team. Good recruiting doesn’t only mean replacing people when there’s a vacant position; it’s the process of finding the person who has the potential of surpassing the best salesperson. For this reason, recruiting can also act as a motivational tool. 

In Conclusion

This unique combination of skills and abilities showcases how difficult it is to find a good Sales Manager using a standard recruitment process. The weight Sales Managers have is still too often overlooked by SMBs. They don’t always expect their Managers to improve the sales teams’ performance. However, it’s when a Sales Manager focuses on performance rather than on sales that a company is most profitable.