What Are the Qualities of Top Sales Managers?

When people imagine a great sales manager, they often visualize a smooth-talking Hollywood caricature, dressed to the nines, oozing easy confidence, authority, and success. But what really makes a great sales manager?

Companies can learn to identify the qualities and traits of ideal sales managers without falling victim to charismatic stereotypes that ultimately fail to drive growth, revenue, or success.

The best sales managers are experts at strategically directing their teams’ efforts to maximize productivity and thrive at transforming average sales reps into consistent high-performers through impactful training.

Because of their unique combination of rare personality traits, sales managers can naturally guide (and, when necessary, push) their teams to grow, evolve, and develop into a world-class sales force that consistently crushes quotas.

15 Qualities that Make a Great Sales Manager

A great sales manager is an invaluable asset to companies aiming to optimize performance, increase market share, and drive innovation.

While the process of discovering and recruiting the ideal sales manager may vary between teams, companies, and industries, here are the top 15 qualities of high-performing sales managers to look for during your next round of hiring.

1. Listening and Communication

The ability to listen and communicate well are some of the most essential skills in managing a sales team.  These abilities are prerequisites for many other components of sales management. Sales managers who can communicate build rapport, keep people on track, and bring their sales team up with them. 

2. Adaptability

Markets, staff, goals, and strategies change. Exceptional sales managers not only recognize what’s going on but continually adjust to evolving environments.

They adapt to the different kinds of people on their teams- a range of personalities and experience levels. They think on their feet to tailor their approach and manage even those they don’t automatically understand or relate to.

3. Well Trained

One of the crucial elements behind great sales managers is training. The notorious trope, which research confirms to be true, is that companies promote their best salespeople to become their worst managers.

Contrary to popular belief, sales and management are completely different roles with independent competencies. PerceptionPredict’s Performance Fingerprints can help promote and hire by using specific attributes and competencies to quantify candidates’ likelihood of success in a given role.  

Still, salespeople promoted to management usually don’t have experience managing yet, so ample training and onboarding are vital. Whether through supervisor mentoring, peer mentoring, and/or independent learning, the process of learning management-specific skills is an absolute necessity.

Additionally, the return on investment of sales manager training is notable. Companies that use half their sales training budget on training management beat their goals by 15%.

4. Mentorship

Coaching an effective sales team involves directly spending valuable time with staff, monitoring, developing, guiding, and providing honest feedback. A good sales manager needs to inspire and facilitate each person’s growth for a team to excel.  

5. Hire Well

Hiring decisions are arguably the most meaningful responsibilities for sales managers. The sustained success of your team rests primarily on the talent you bring in.

The process of onboarding, training, and ultimately firing poorly-performing or otherwise unsuitable sales representatives drains valuable company resources and can be harmful to team morale.

Validating this critical requirement, 72% of great sales managers rate their salespeople as excellent or above average, and only half of average sales managers said their teams were that good.

Sales managers have a fundamental role in determining the composition of teams. Therefore, it’s in their best interest to guarantee the best hires possible.

Using PerceptionPredict Performance Fingerprints is one of the best ways for sales managers to hire the ideal candidates for the job. While sales experience provides some advantages in selecting salespeople, the strategic use of sales data through predictive analytics makes the process failproof.

6. Priorities

The best sales managers differentiate and rank their own roles and the roles of their team. They maximize their time for principal responsibilities and find ways to help salespeople win. Comprehension of prime goals and strategies inspires the team and contributes to their collective performance.

7. Accountability

Accountability is a vital quality of a good sales team leader. It is critical for sales managers to have consistent expectations for themselves and their team. Outstanding leaders always lead by example to garner respect. 

The payoff for creating consistent and fair accountability policies can be huge. It’s no wonder that 75% of top sales managers consistently measure performance and hold salespeople accountable for their quotas.

8. Motivation

Culture is integral to sales teams’ achievement. Sales managers motivate with positive attitudes, encouraging team members through challenges, recognizing and reinforcing effort and accomplishments.

Excellent managers motivate excellent salespeople, develop average salespeople to make them excellent, and keep the entire team engaged and aligned.

9. Empathy and EQ

Salespeople are, above all, people. They have individual strengths, weaknesses, and life circumstances that they inevitably bring into the office.

The cohesion and productivity of any team necessitate a manager who is sensitive to emotional climates and understands employees simply want to stay, hang around, and work with people who are likable, supportive, enthusiastic, and trustworthy.

10. Assessment

The administrative and strategic position compels sales managers to track sales teams’ job performance. They need to know whether salespeople are doing well and review reasons for achievement and failure to either reinforce or course-correct.

94% of the best sales leaders regularly assess why top salespeople are successful. This provides an opportunity to identify shared traits, behaviors, and practices among top performers and develop new sales strategies or training that supports the development of those traits in the entire team.

PerceptionPredict is a valuable tool for tracking and analyzing job performance down to single tasks, behaviors, and attributes.

11. Foresight

Overall, continuous team engagement, and mechanisms like our Performance Fingerprints, aid sales managers in staying one step ahead when it comes to both exceeding projected performance and falling short.

The best sales managers also employ foresight to plan for contingencies should their teams fall behind on productivity or respond to potential market or industry shake-ups. This allows nimble adaptability to rapidly changing environments, allowing the best sales managers’ teams to perform rain-or-shine.

12. Resource Optimization

Serious sales managers utilize all suitable resources at hand while also setting their teams up for success by wisely allocating them and encouraging their use.

13. Tech Savvy

Technology saves substantial time by automating time-intensive tasks like data collection and analysis and administrative duties. It is more important than ever to harness emerging technologies, and 87% of great sales managers report maximizing sales technology maximizes revenue. 

14. Sales Expertise

Deep knowledge of sales, while not the only qualification for an outstanding sales manager, is key for judging salespeople’s aptitudes and shortcomings to mentor them effectively. It also allows for more cost-effective and impactful training, as well as increased opportunities for daily improvement.

15. Demeanor

Sales managers must command respect as fair leaders, exude ingenuity and passion that motivates their team, exhibit infectious positivity, and simultaneously remain approachable and relatable.

The Role of the Ideal Sales Manager

You could classify the role of great sales managers as a jack-of-all-trades. The best sales managers understand that their role requires many hats, switching between roles and responsibilities seamlessly.

Great sales managers also recognize that their job is largely about sales enablement, the practice of providing their sales teams and representatives with the best tools, resources, and training to reliably close sales over targeted goals.

Sales enablement is an ongoing process that requires sales managers to stay up-to-date on industry best practices and emerging resources for driving sales. 

Other important responsibilities that fall into the ideal sales managers wheelhouse are:

  • Communication Facilitator  

Good sales managers encourage greater cohesion, performance, and customer satisfaction by encouraging consistent, responsive, and constructive internal and external communication. 

  • Administrative Expert 

While some sales managers balk at taking on administrative duties, the best sales managers understand that streamlining non-sales obligations for their team maximizes productivity and growth.

By being a team player, effective sales managers can effectively double or even triple the amount of time their teams spend selling.

  • Managing Sales and People 

The ideal sales manager understands the difference between managing sales and managing their team and has a strong grasp of when to choose one over another.

While tracking performance and enforcing accountability is vital for company success, an ability to utilize soft skills to motivate and elevate your workforce is what truly makes a great sales manager stand out from mediocre colleagues. 

Hire Top Sales Managers with PerceptionPredict

PerceptionPredict’s interactive analytics engine enhances your hard-earned mastery of sales staffing decisions. It compiles pertinent data on prospective candidates to identify those with the highest performance potential, eliminates harmful biases, and predicts future key performance indicators for new candidates.

Our performance-tracking and advanced insight tools also allow sales managers to make deliberate and impactful adjustments to sales policies, practices, and strategies.

Book a demo to learn where PerceptionPredict fits into the equation of elevating your organization’s talent.

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