A sales manager directly influences the revenue-generating potential of a company. It is common to assume that someone with the highest sales record is most eligible for a sales manager role. However, that is far from the truth.
A sales manager’s role has more to do with the ability to lead, mentor, and motivate a sales team to achieve or exceed an organization’s sales goals. Companies value sales managers who can successfully meet their customer acquisition and revenue growth targets while keeping the business innovative and competitive.
With that in mind, let’s look at the top 6 skills for sales managers that determine the success of a sales department.
Top 6 Most Desired Sales Manager Skills
Before we deep-dive into the sales manager skills, it is crucial to understand the responsibilities of a sales manager:
- A sales manager’s foremost responsibility is to lead the sales department in fulfilling the set sales quotas.
- They are expected to contribute to the growth of the business by using insights and analytics to make data-driven decisions.
- A sales manager is often in charge of selecting his own team. Therefore, recruiting new salespeople by themselves or along with an HR rep is a part of their job description.
- They are responsible for coaching existing and new salespeople and conducting regular performance reviews to help employees enhance their career skills.
- Sales managers set the sales goals based on a company’s objectives and a sales team’s caliber.
- They plan and execute sales strategies that have the potential to drive business growth.
A typical day in a sales manager’s professional life includes maintaining profitable relationships with their own list of clients as well as directly influencing the success of the sales department by ensuring they hit their daily quotas. A good manager creates a cooperative, peaceful atmosphere for everyone to work in and stay motivated to achieve their goals.
It requires strong communication skills, leadership skills, the ability to plan strategically and analytically, and effective people skills and relationship-building skills to interact with potential clients, customers, and team members on a regular basis.
Let’s explore the skills that determine the success of a sales manager:
1. Ability to Forecast Sales Goals Based on Analytics
Sales managers need to be able to analyze and review sales data and make actionable decisions based on them to set sales goals. An important part of their job is conducting in-depth research of the market and customers to identify prospects and partnerships.
This requires strong analytical skills and an ability to draw meaningful and productive conclusions to the benefit of the organization. Such insights are helpful in forecasting and setting sales goals as per the objectives of the company. This also forms the basis of strategizing sales plans which are again to be implemented by the sales manager.
A sales manager who is good at pipeline management can forecast the revenue their team will generate in a given period.
2. Strategic Thinking and Planning Skills to Implement Sales Plans
Planning is an essential step in ensuring the growth of a sales department and eventually the scalability of a business. Once sales managers have assembled the necessary data and insights to formulate a plan, they must strategize the course of action that would lead to the realization of the said sales plan. This involves enforcing, tracking, and updating from the beginning till the end to warrant the successful implementation of the plan.
It also involves bringing together the entire team to work towards a common objective to improve workflow management. To do so, a sales manager must know to effectively define the sales goals and document the process for everyone to follow, and provide necessary training and support so that the entire sales team prospers consistently.
Planning is not a one-time activity. It requires updating with changes in the market and customer requirements. So, an aspiring sales manager must work on developing their analytical and strategic thinking skills to drive business growth. Taking a specialization course in sales management can help you greatly here.
For instance, upGrad’s PG Program in Management, Specialisation in Sales and Digital Marketing is designed for sales executives, managers, and marketing professionals, aspiring or experienced, to provide them relevant industry exposure. The 11-month online program is aimed at developing leadership and management skills, and strategic marketing, sales, and distribution abilities with a focus on business growth.
3. Ability to Coach, Mentor, and Motivate Salespeople
As a sales manager, it is not relevant how good your sales record is if you can’t positively influence your members’ sales performance. It is imperative for sales managers to possess effective communication and interpersonal skills.
A sales manager is as much invested in the day-to-day proceedings of an office as he is at tracking the big-picture progress of the organization’s goals. Thus, he/she must have an active role in improving the quality of salespeople’s sales process by soliciting effective coaching, guidance, and support.
You might partner up with them so they can observe you in the act, or listen in on their conversations with prospective clients to review and provide feedback. Moreover, you can teach them standard business tactics to maximize the success of their presentations and strategies.
It is also important to keep the team motivated towards their goals by organizing meetings, activities, and team-building exercises that push people beyond their comfort zones. This also involves encouraging transparency and communication to help them acknowledge the challenges and limitations in sales operations.
All of this contributes to greater revenue for the company.
4. Ability to Delegate Responsibilities
The mark of a successful sales manager is how effectively he utilizes the sales department’s potential to achieve organizational goals. To be able to do this, a sales manager must know when and how to delegate responsibilities so as to enhance the productivity of the company.
A good sales manager doesn’t burden himself with responsibilities that could be delegated, nor does he micromanage his employees to an extent that hampers their natural productivity.
If a sales manager has trained and mentored his sales department well, his only job now is to track their progress and provide assistance when necessary.
To be a sales manager means to lead every step of the way. It indicates creating a healthy atmosphere for everyone involved to progress and prosper.
A good leader is expected to stay calm under stressful situations and help team members cope with the pressures of the daily grind. Sales managers should be compassionate enough to understand the challenges their employees are facing and help them solve their problems and be stern and authoritative enough to hold them accountable.
It is a sales manager’s job to encourage amicable relationships between team members and resolve conflicts when necessary. The aim is to motivate and empower team members to excel in their respective spaces with proper guidance and support.
Leadership skills come in quite handy when interacting with new prospects, initiating partnerships, and closing sales. It involves putting people at ease, building rapport, and putting forth an impression of reliability and trust.
The incentive to take responsibility and stay committed to achieving goals reflects in the leadership skills of a sales manager.
6. Ability to Communicate
All of the above-mentioned skills fall flat if a sales manager does not possess the necessary communication and interpersonal skills. They should be able to clearly convey the goals, objectives, visions, and strategies so that everyone is aware of their respective role and what they need to do.
To be able to deliver sales information accurately, delegate respective tasks and duties, identify inconsistencies and provide mentorship to improve them, provide support, motivate the sales team with powerful words, and build profitable relationships with clients and customers, a sales manager must have strong communication skills.
A sales manager’s job comes with a wide range of responsibilities, all of which involve uniting the entire department under them to work productively towards fulfilling company goals.
If you are just starting out a career in sales, there is a lot you will need to learn to bolster your management skills along the way. Luckily, there are online programs that have made this easier than ever. upGrad’s PG Program in Management, Specialisation in Sales and Digital Marketing is not just confined to imparting in-demand sales skills and hands-on training. It also prepares aspiring young professionals for career advancement opportunities.