Every sales manager has some degree of legitimate dedication to both their company and professional development. That's a big part of how you get to be a manager in the first place.
Those qualities are almost a given in sales management, but the very best managers don't stop there — they exhibit some other key traits and behaviors that take their management skills from good to great.
Here, we'll review six of the most crucial qualities that every ambitious sales manager should fold into their day-to-day operations and broader aspirations to take their management skills to the next level.
Best Sales Manager Qualities
A Consistent Commitment to Personal Improvement
The Ability to Identify and Hire Quality Candidates
A Willingness to Construct and Commit to a Process
A Firm Understanding of Relevant KPIs
Objective, Fair Conflict Resolution Skills
Firm but Compassionate Communication and Feedback Skills
1. A Consistent Commitment to Personal Improvement
The best sales managers lead by example. They inspire their teams through their own dedication and, in turn, get more from their reps. That's why exemplary sales managers never stop trying to improve.
Complacency is a detriment to effective sales management. As a manager, it's on you to fight any inclination to remain stagnant in how you take on your responsibilities. You have to want to be better and consistently deliver on that motivation.
Attend sales management seminars. Make a conscious effort to better understand and approach the aspects of your job that extend beyond directly managing your team. No matter what you do, remain grounded, open, and ambitious when it comes to your ongoing professional development.
2. The Ability to Identify and Hire Quality Candidates
The sustained success of your team rests primarily on the talent you bring in. The best sales manager in the world can only get so far with a rep who lacks the ambition, skills, or cultural fit to thrive and actively contribute to their team.
Onboarding and ultimately letting go of an ineffective hire is a massive drain on time, effort, money, and company resources. So you need to be able to get ahead of that potentially disastrous process. That's why sound hiring skills are so crucial to your success as a sales manager.
Understand the skills and attributes that you want to hire for — as well as the questions you need to ask to uncover them. You can learn those by touching base with and learning from your more experienced colleagues.
Once you have a firm picture of those components, relay those ideal traits to your recruiters. That way, you'll ensure that the crop of candidates you bring in is more likely to successfully pan out.
3. A Willingness to Construct and Commit to a Sales Process
Cohesion and consistency are a sales manager's best friends. They're central to maintaining a tight ship and keeping operations as fluid and efficient as possible. You need your whole team to be on the same page so it serves you to give them a solid framework to abide by.
That's where a well-structured sales process comes into play. If you can establish, monitor, and facilitate an effective sequence of steps for your reps to follow when conducting their sales efforts, you can make both your and their jobs easier.
There should always be some degree of rhyme and reason to your team's sales efforts. The best managers know it's on them to define and enforce what that will look like.
4. A Firm Understanding of Relevant KPIs
Managers need to understand how both their and their teams' success will be gauged and measured. You have to understand how to interpret and apply relevant KPIs like average sales cycle length, average deal size, and discovery-to-close rate.
You'll also need a firm understanding of how those metrics will be reported. Being able to read and make something of the necessary reports you'll be referencing is key to identifying areas for improvement in both your and your team's performance.
In some cases, you might have to work with your managers to get a solid feel for this aspect of the job. Don't be reluctant to touch base with them about the how and why behind the KPIs and reports you need to have a grasp on.
No matter what it might take to get there, you have to know the ins and outs of the figures used to measure your performance.
5. Objective, Fair Conflict Resolution Skills
Sales reps don't always get along. Conflict is natural in the workplace, and as a manager, it's often on you to resolve any potential clashes between your team members.
When confronted with that kind of situation, the best sales managers know how to remain calm, impartial, and objective. Conflict doesn't have to mean confrontation, and effective managers can ensure that that kind of tension doesn't boil over and interfere with how their team functions.
They know how to hear every side without playing favorites and make sure that disputes get resolved constructively — minimizing friction, sustaining high morale, and ultimately making their operations run smoother.
For more information on how to develop effective conflict resolution skills, check out this article here.
6. Firm but Compassionate Communication and Feedback Skills
Coaching and offering feedback are two of the most important responsibilities that consistently fall on sales managers. It's on them to provide personal insight that will get the most out of their reps.
Typically, doing both right means leading with empathy and providing constructive guidance. You need to understand who your reps are. No two team members are built the same. They're going to be receptive to different kinds of coaching.
If you can tactfully tailor your messages and feedback to accommodate your reps as individuals, you'll put yourself in an excellent position to be the best sales manager you can be.
Now, by no means is this list exhaustive. There are plenty of other qualities exceptional sales managers generally exhibit. Still, that doesn't make the behaviors and tendencies listed here any less valuable. If you're a sales manager, it's in your best interest to add these components into your management repertoire if you haven't already.
Originally published Nov 26, 2020 8:30:00 AM, updated June 15 2021