6 Keys to Developing the Ultimate Sales Manager


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The Sales Manager is the most important position on the sales team.  Developing them should be your highest priority as a Sales VP.  Their talent will result in you Making the Number every quarter.  But to develop them into greatness, you need to know what greatness is.  There are 6 keys to making them World Class. Focusing on these six will also position you for Sales VP greatness.

Ultimate Sales Managers are exceptional doing these things:

  1. Building a Virtual Bench: Even the best Sales Managers lose sales people.  In fact, best in class turnover hovers in the mid-teens annually. But the best do something different.  They are consistently recruiting talent. This ensures they reduce open selling weeks when someone leaves.  And ensures you have the talent to Make the Number. 
  1. Spending 75% of their Time Coaching: They are consistently in the field with their people.  They don’t waste selling time with anything that doesn’t involve a customer or prospect. Their day is completely filled and time is not wasted. Every interaction with a sales person is a coaching opportunity.  Ask yourself these questions:
    • Have you ever worked for someone who coaches over ¾ of their time?
    • Did you consistently improve your abilities?
    • Was it the most challenging, fun and rewarding experience of your life?

Balance the administration and internal meetings on their schedules. Schedule these early or late in the day.  Have them in the field with customers and sales reps during prime selling hours.  Get them coaching their sales people.

  1. Developing Sales People: The best are passionate about developing their people. Development to them means improving their sales reps lives. This is personal and professional. That’s why they coach so much.  Sales people know that someone cares when they focus on them. It’s not about just improving the company.  And ironically the company benefits even more. This development begins with creating an Individual Development Plan for each SM.  This plan has detailed actions with deadlines to improve.  This is the foundation for consistent development. 
  1. Finding their Replacement: The best know who is going to replace them at all times. This is natural because of all the coaching and developing that occurs.  It allows them to be flexible, promotable and creative.  They are never the ‘super-sellers’ but actually true sales leaders.  This ‘virtual bench’ of promotable talent creates opportunities for people. This attracts and retains the best talent. 
  1. Strategizing on Big Deals: The best always help.  Help their reps think through opportunities.  Help them understand the buying decision team.  And help get the deals closed quicker.  They also use a consistent, repeatable methodology on strategizing opportunities.  This allows for repeatable success. 
  1. Eliminate Non-Selling Time for their Reps: The Ultimate Sales Manager is an ambassador for their sales people.  They remove as many obstacles as possible freeing up sales reps time. Things like pricing, service issues, and delays in shipments or collecting payments.  These time sinks kill sales rep productivity. Understand how there is a better way to eliminate these time sinks.  

Download a copy of our 8th Annual Research Report.  It is the 2015 Guide to Making your Number. It will tell you how great companies develop their sales managers. And to understand how to do it in your company.  This report and a subsequent 90 minute interactive session will help construct a roadmap. 


Developing your Sales Managers requires you to make these keys come alive.  Doing that is the hard part. To enable these 6 keys, you need to take several actions:

  1. Commit to their development. This means consistently focusing on these key steps. This goes into creating training materials and focusing on ongoing development curriculum. And rearranging your time for their development.
  2. Manufacture ways to coach your Sales Managers. Establish regular activities that allow coaching to happen.  One on One sessions, sales meetings and field rides are examples.
  3. Create an Individual Development Plan for each SM. Each SM should have two to three actions for improvement next year. By focusing on them, your SMs will improve.

Remember, these keys are interactive and build off each other. You cannot do just one.  They must be in parallel for greatness to occur. And this is a day, week and month journey.  It’s a highly rewarding process that never ends.  Because if you are successful, you will always Make the Number. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dan Perry
Dan is an industry thought leader with more than 25 years of experience in b-to-b field sales, sales management, and sales operations. Dan has delivered domestic and international results for companies such as Hewlett Packard, Terremark Worldwide, Dow Jones, Activant Solutions, Kronos, CDS Global, Microsemi.


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