Working as a sales manager is both rewarding and challenging. Unfortunately, it’s also a job with high turnover. According to a September 2015 article published on Openview.com, the average sales manager stays in the position just 20 months. The short time on the job is even less than that of the typical salesperson and many managers are forced out instead of leaving voluntarily. Those who do leave on their own often cite the stress of managing multiple priorities such as hiring staff, administrative duties, and managing a sales team with varying degrees of ability.
It’s important for hiring managers to recognize qualities of a good sales manager as well as for existing sales managers to have the opportunity to improve their skills. When considering the first issues, human resources professionals should understand the top performing salespeople don’t always translate into the best sales managers.
Top Skills of a Successful Sales Manager
When looking for a new sales manager, one with an outgoing personality who can lead and guide others is preferable to someone who has more of an introverted working style. The best sales managers know how to direct members of their team to uncover a problem and then help them discover potential solutions. This is a far more effective approach than simply telling someone what he or she does wrong and demanding that the salesperson fix it. Some other qualities to look for include:
- The ability to maintain professionalism amongst people the sales manager may consider friends while remaining reasonably authoritative at the same time. This is a fine line because becoming too authoritative can create resentment and mistrust among the team.
- The ability to manage his or her own strong emotions, especially considering that sales managers must deal with irate customers and discipline underperforming sales personnel. Those situations are already ripe with emotion and don’t need additional fuel added to it.
- The best frontline sales managers one the ones with good listening skills, who effectively direct their team, consider customer feedback, and work well with other departments.
How Current Sales Managers Can Improve Their Performance
Sales managers who want to stay in their current positions and eventually earn promotions shouldn’t feel afraid to ask for honest feedback from teams they manage as well as superiors and other sales managers. This is especially true of those who have concerns about their on-the-job performance. While the sales manager might not agree with all feedback, it gives him or her a starting point for improvements.
The most successful sales managers embrace learning at every level. That means saying yes to continuing education classes after hours, mastering new technology, and continually searching for additional knowledge. Salespeople look to their managers for guidance. Those who see their manager never feeling satisfied with the status quo are much more likely to take on the same attitude.
Another quality of great leaders is recognizing that they need coaching as well. Whether that’s the sales manager’s own superior or someone in a larger network isn’t important. The key to ongoing performance improvement is learning from those with more experience and asking for help when needed.
Sales management is not an easy job, but it could become a more fulfilling one by employing some of these tips.