So you want to leap from being a sales representative to sales manager and need to know the leadership skills for it, you are in the right place. Though learning leadership skills is not rocket science or one to become a rockstar, you still need to learn the right skills. Sales managers are one of the most influential persons for any organization to boost sales and profit.
You may be a sales representative or an MBA graduate; either way, leadership skills are essential to become a successful sales manager. You will be entrusted with many responsibilities to build, lead, and manage a team of salespeople. Only by knowing the duties and proper leadership skills you can be a successful sales manager.
According to a study conducted by Ohio University, 32% of sales managers’ time is spent on managing people, 26% of the time in managing information, 23% on customer interaction, 15% on administration tasks, and 4% on-time control. Superstar sales managers offer their unique skills to maximize profits and take businesses to new heights.
With the business world transforming from the traditional brick and mortar to digital and automation, you need to have both worlds’ leadership skills. From having a unique leadership style, resilient, active listening ability to digital skills like CRM, social selling, and others is essential to increase sales and profit to develop the organization to new levels,
What Does a Sales Manager Do?
A sales manager is one who leads and guides the sales team in an organization. They set sales targets and quotas, make sales plans, analyze data, assign sales training and sales zones, advise his / her sales team members, and participate in the hiring and firing process.
Sales managers have different personalities. They are enthusiastic, courageous, ambitious, outspoken, extroverted, energetic, passionate, confident, and optimistic. They are practical, refreshing, and exciting. Some of them are traditional, which means they are honest and legal.
Sales managers work with managers in other departments. For example, the marketing department identifies new customers that the sales department can target. The relationship between these two divisions is essential to help the organization expand its client base. As sales managers oversee customer preferences and inventory requirements of stores and companies, they work closely with research and design departments and warehouse departments.
The Responsibilities of a Sales Manager
In this globalized and digitized business world, the role of a sales manager is a challenging task. Many responsibilities are required of the sales manager by all organizations to improve sales and profit. Hence, you need to know the sales manager’s duties to fulfill all of them before learning the leadership skills.
A few of the responsibilities of a Sales Manager include:
- To recruit, train, motivate and manage a salespeople team for reaching sales targets to achieve development.
- To create a lead qualification and sales process for boosting sales to develop the organization to new levels.
- To design and implement strategic business plans to expand its customer base and ensure its constant strong presence.
- To build and promote solid, long-lasting customer relationships with CRM skills to understand their needs and grow business.
- To track sales metrics, present sales revenue and expense reports to the management.
- To deliver reviews and realistic forecasts of future sales to the team for coaching them to achieve it.
- To identify the changes in the emerging market shifts for being fully ready for it to outsmart competitors.
- To implement performance plans as per the organization culture to lead the sales team to extend development.
- To set sales goals that are realistic, manage individual and sales team quotas by creating a sales plan.
- To monitor progress in real-time by daily analyzing data and proactively experimenting to improve execution.
17 Leadership Skills Essential to Be a Successful Sales Manager
Since sales managers can make or break businesses, it is essential to have specific leadership skills for being a successful sales manager to develop the organization to new levels.
Check out the following leadership skills.
- Develop a Unique Leadership Style
- Be Ready to Change
- Earn the Trust of All Stakeholders
- Be Patient & Resilient
- Take Responsibility
- Have Strong Motivation
- Be an Active Listener
- Continuously Develop Communication Skills
- Empower the Sales Team
- Learn to Boost Team Morale
- Learn to Provide Feedback
- Develop the Ability to Coach and Motivate
- Develop CRM Skills
- Increase Social Selling Skills
- Have a Passion for Sales
- Perfect Your Time Management Skills
- Develop and Reach Sales Goals
1. Develop a Unique Leadership Style
It is essential to develop a unique leadership style, as there are many leadership styles in sales management. It is best to avoid imitating other sales leaders’ style, as it is only repeating it. Hence develop a personal style improved by experience to have your stamp on it.
The salespeople respect authenticity and only want to follow sales managers’ unique style of functioning with a clear set of values. Hence to gain the salespeople’s respect to lead them with the heart and head will benefit them.
2. Be Ready to Change
To be ready to change as per the many continuous changes in technology, economics, society, and others are critical. Only by being constantly aware of the changes, and being ready for them will prepare the sales team to implement it not to be left out in the crowd.
In this fast-changing digitalized business world, the best sales practices, techniques, strategies, and others change with a drop of a hat. And if not changing as per the trend, all the sales processes will become irrelevant. Hence it is crucial to be aware and ready for the changes.
3. Earn the Trust of All Stakeholders
To become a successful sales manager, it is pertinent to earn the trust of the salespeople and all the stakeholders. It includes the management service staff and other employees to provide holistic solutions to customers to their satisfaction to boost sales.
Only by earning the salespeople’s trust will it be easy to motivate them and achieve the sales target. Having good relationships with all stakeholders by making their trust by not only words but also of action will help in its overall development.
4. Be Patient & Resilient
Proficient sales managers are those who have the virtues of being patient and resilient. Only possessing these outstanding qualities will help pass it on to the salespeople to achieve overall success. It will increase not only sales but also respect among all stakeholders.
For any sales manager, there will be tough times and will experience setbacks. Only patience and resilience will help to overcome these challenges and make them opportunities. It will increase the confidence of the salespeople and management to be more successful in the future.
5. Take Responsibility
Becoming a sales manager has monetary, authority, and other benefits but also has many challenges. Being the sales team captain, only the manager is accountable for both the success and failures. Hence it is vital to take responsibility for both.
Taking responsibility for the entire sales team and the sales process will put the onus to always better the previous performance. Hence it is vital not to rationalize and find excuses but to find quick and confident solutions to achieve success during adversities.
6. Have Strong Motivation
The sales profession is for many a thankless job, and only performing all the time will help to be a successful sales manager. Hence, it is essential to have a powerful motivation to achieve targets one after the other continuously.
It is unnecessary for only the money to motivate but could be intrinsic because of recognition, satisfaction, fulfillment, and sales management love. Also, it could be because of extrinsic motivation by rewards, vacations, and other material things.
7. Be an Active Listener
To head a team of salespeople, the first quality is to be an active listener. Only then will it help to know their difficulties and be able to solve them accordingly. Failing to be an active listener will make matters complicated, and achieving sales targets could be challenging.
Salespeople or management needs a lot from the sales managers for better performance. Salespeople may face additional difficulty or continue having others, and only patiently listening to their grievances will help achieve success to satisfy the management with better growth.
8. Continuously Develop Communication Skills
Not only for sales managers but all professions, communication skills are the backbone for success. Without proper communication, it is impossible to motivate, coach, or train the salespeople to achieve success.
Being an active listener with communication skills will help to reach the sales targets fast. Also, during adverse times, communicating accordingly with the salespeople and management to explain how to overcome them and change them to success paths.
9. Empower the Sales Team
Above all, the sales manager’s responsibilities and sales team are the most significant responsibility to be a boon or bane for success. Hence, it is crucial to empower the sales team, whether on-site or remote, with proper training and the right marketing tools to achieve their targets quickly.
With most of today’s salespeople are millennial youth more prone to technology, they need sales modules and software to increase sales. Hence it is necessary to empower them by providing them with all tools to skyrocket sales.
10. Learn to Boost Team Morale
If providing the right tools to salespeople can skyrocket sales, boosting their morale will help become a successful sales manager. If confidence is low, it is challenging to manage the sales team and decrease sales.
The significant factor that could boost the morale or spoil it for the salespeople is the sales targets. Since every salesperson and situation is unique, it is essential only to give tailor-made smart sales targets. As it is attainable within a specific time, it will boost their morale.
11. Learn to Provide Feedback
It is only the feedback that could improve the sales rather than stagnate in time. Sales managers need to give salespeople feedback, both good and bad, to enhance and correct themselves to increase sales.
Hence becoming an excellent feedback provider to salespeople will help sales managers to set realistic sales targets. Only providing in-depth and constructive feedback will increase the productivity of the sales team to achieve success.
12. Develop the Ability to Coach and Motivate
Since the sales team is the biggest asset for a sales manager, it is essential to coach and motivates them. First, the sales manager should identify the sales team members’ strengths and weaknesses and then build on the power and rectify the shortcomings.
Without a doubt, there will be times when the sales team will be in a slump because of rejections. During these challenging times, the sales manager needs to motivate the sales team by conducting creative contests and competitions and appropriate sales compensations.
13. Develop CRM Skills
In this digitized business world, the sales manager needs to develop CRM skills. Hence, the new age sales managers should be CRM-savvy to enhance people’s sales with essential customer information and insights to close deals fast.
Without in-depth customer information, the salesperson will run blindly behind them, unable to close deals. The sales managers need to keep track of the milestones, notate conversation, and update customer accounts daily in the sales process with multiple CRM tools.
14. Increase Social Selling Skills
With social selling driving the digital market, sales managers should increase their social selling skills. It is essential to know the intricacies of using many social media platforms to use them accordingly to increase sales.
The sales managers should increase their ability to use social selling and empower the sales team to do it the right way. Hence it is pertinent to connect with potential customers, generate leads, and update posts and blogs, among others, for the entire sales team to increase social selling.
15. Have a Passion for Sales
A sales manager job could reward monetary benefits, power, and perks, but it is also challenging. Being a thankless job to perform continuously with no slump, the sales managers need to have a passion for sales.
With a passion for sales being proud of selling products and services by convincing even unwilling customers, it is possible to be a successful sales manager. They should also continue with passion until retirement to reach new heights and developing companies to new horizons.
16. Perfect Your Time Management Skills
Sales managers often run themselves from work to work. The best sales managers can control their time, optimize their productivity, and maximize their results. For sales managers, time management is an important skill. If sales managers can’t properly monitor their time, they will struggle to be motivated and successfully lead their teams.
If you are concerned about your time management skills, you should try to follow some practical steps. For example, you can allocate time to think about how long it will take your team to complete a specific task and set strict deadlines.
17. Develop and Reach Sales Goals
Every sales manager knows that creating and achieving sales goals can be very difficult. The best sales managers will call in reliable data that will create even more ambitious sales goals. Also, sales managers continuously monitor the goals that their teams can manage properly. Therefore, sales managers have better opportunities to maximize their teams ’results and hit vital goals.
To develop a proper understanding of numbers, you need to build your general business sense. Your goals are logical, accurate, and achievable. This guide is useful for setting and achieving sales goals.
The above 17 essential skills will be enough for you to become a successful sales manager. But there are also various other behavioral, technical, social, and other skills needed to manage the sales team and be a grand success for a long time. Few of such skills include, among others.
- There could be unpleasant emotional situations to increase the ability to control emotions to support listening and asking questions without it.
- To create transparency among the sales team to all know about their metrics and develop a spirit of competition to motivate them to increase sales.
- To have a healthy positive outlook at all times to even convert adverse situations to moments of opportunities.
It is essential to develop the qualities of effective leadership for your successful career as a sales manager. Sales management is not easy, and unfortunately, most sales managers do not have the required qualifications. You will have to pass several hurdles to achieve the expected target and results.
Learning or improving the above 17 leadership skills and empathy for the salespeople will help you become a successful sales manager. It is also essential to be digital savvy to know all the technological developments to implement them and provide tools to the sales team.
To become a successful sales manager, you need to lead by example rather than ordering the sales team with mere words. Many studies confirm that only the sales manager’s vision and decision-making skills influence the sales team to achieve targets.
Start by identifying the right opportunities to work on your domain skills, demonstrating your (proven) ability to become an effective leader and team builder. And most importantly, prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are an active problem solver, that he will take the initiative and make sure that your future team has the right to perform better.