Three Essential Skills For Successful Sales Managers


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What’s different between successful sales managers and the rest? Are there characteristics they all share? Are there behaviours they all display? Are there particular and unique skills they have? Do they know something the others don’t? Or are they merely lucky?
The easy answer, of course, is luck. They get lucky when recruited by great companies, with exciting products, and sharp sales teams backed by excellent marketing. Who wouldn’t be successful with all that going for them?
There is some justification for this view. Nobody needs to be very good, with all those advantages. But this is the easy answer, not the right answer.
Most companies do not have exciting products. They don’t have sharp sales teams, or excellent marketing. They aren’t ‘great’ as businesses. And yet, even with a playing field tilted against them, some sales managers find ways to succeed in most businesses.
That’s because they bring to the job a flexible, assured personality, together with a vision everybody can follow, and a method of developing a successful sales model. These are three dimensions in which successful sales managers are more capable than their peers, regardless of industry, company, or territory.


Just like successful sports coaches, over achieving sales managers are a complex combination of Leader, Coach, Friend, Nanny, and Ogre. Just like sports stars, sales people can be optimistic, pessimistic, diligent, lazy, smart, dumb, easy going, and difficult. Successful sales leaders match the appropriate management style to the individual reps’ shifting moods. CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and Presidents can all need help to understand sales, and how to get the best out of sales teams. Managing the management is every bit as important as organising the sales team, and probably more difficult. Contrary to popular myth, sales managers aren’t successul in ways they used to be – hard driving, aggressive, demanding, task masters. Today the job is about leadership, from behind – skilfully directing sales teams, customers, and management towards what works. It’s about being much more friend than foe. It’s about leading the team.


By philosophy we mean something they really believe in – something the leadership, and coaching, and managing, can explain to everybody. That something might for example be integrity, or customer value. It’s the ‘what are we about?’ vision, or insight, which everybody can follow – a value proposition.


Whilst the personality wins the friends and influences people, and the philosophy offers everybody a vision to follow, its the process which gets them where they want to go. That process starts with researching and choosing a sales strategy, and then develops a sales model, a sales process, sales tools and sales management systems. The sales manager figures out how to make the whole thing work, and then finds ways of doing it even better.
Regardless of industry, or geography, or market,or even luck, the sales manager who brings these skills to the job will be more successful than others who don’t.
Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


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