As a sales manager, you're like the conductor of an orchestra. You have a group of talented, highly skilled players (sales representatives) at your disposal, and it's your job to make sure they're all working together in harmony to hit those sweet, sweet sales goals.
Any typical sales manager’s role involves setting sales goals, developing sales strategies and plans, and providing guidance to your sales staff to ensure they can meet those goals. You need organizational and sales process management know-how; strong sales knowledge; coaching capabilities for reps when they hit tough obstacles; and training so every one of your sales staff can stay on top of their game.
That means that a sales manager job calls for a combination of key skills; the kind that you cannot fit into a set template. That said, with the right set of tools in hand, you can be a star sales manager.
All these elements come together to make a great sales manager. Ultimately, the success of your sales staff depends on your ability to lead and manage the sales team effectively.
So what skill set do you need to hone to be a great sales manager? Let’s look at some essential sales manager skills you need to sharpen.
11 skills to hone if you want to be a successful sales manager
- Interpersonal skills
A sales manager needs to be able to build trusting relationships with sales representatives, other departments, and customers in order to drive sales results. This means being an effective communicator. You also need to be able to grasp other perspectives alongside the ability to articulate your own ideas and vision. You need to be able to mediate conflict.
Work towards developing excellent communication skills and strong negotiation skills so that you can nurture customer relationships while balancing the needs of both the customer and the business. Strong communication skills can help you effectively convey information, provide feedback, and listen to customer concerns, while being able to negotiate effectively with clients and stakeholders.
Interpersonal and communication skills are especially important in today's context. A personal connection can often make the difference between a successful sale and a missed opportunity.
- Leadership skills
Sales leadership is all about inspiring your team so they're motivated enough to strive for success despite the competitive environment and expected setbacks. You achieve this by setting expectations, providing guidance, and creating an environment where everyone feels supported.
As the old saying goes, "People don't leave bad companies, they leave bad managers." A good sales manager should be able to provide their sales team with the support and encouragement they need to stay engaged and motivated. This could mean recognizing their accomplishments, offering training and development opportunities, or simply showing appreciation for their hard work.
- Industry and product knowledge
If you want to be a good sales manager you need to know your sector and product inside out. How can you measure your sales performance and increase profitability without a deep understanding of sales data, sales metrics, or your product?
The more you know about the products or services you're selling (and what's going on in the market), the better equipped you'll be to help reps close deals.
Deep industry knowledge will allow you to provide valuable guidance and support to their team, and to make informed decisions about sales strategies.
- Firefighting abilities
Problem solving skills come into play nearly everyday for a sales leader, or pretty much any leader. There might be some issue with a customer or with another department.
Problem solving abilities include keeping your cool in the moment, soothing ruffled feathers and finding a solution that works for both parties involved.
- Analytical prowess
To be a good sales manager you need to analyze data and use it to make informed decisions about your team's approach to sales. It's not enough for you to be able to rattle off metrics and what they imply – you have to get deep in the game, be able to interpret metrics, and use information in a way that will help you reach your goals.
If you feel like spreadsheets are the bane of your existence, you should try looking for tools that give you at-a-glance data dashboards and actionable intelligence.
- Organizational/sales process management
A great sales manager knows the ins and outs of the sales process, and how to keep their team organized at each stage. You must invest time and effort into developing a sales plan. Develop your time management abilities and spend time prioritizing your tasks. Even when it seems faster to do something yourself, delegate effectively. Coach if you have to. It will pay dividends later.
You also need to be disciplined about maintaining accurate records to keep your sales processes running smoothly.
Managing the sales process could also include helping sales reps identify potential leads, develop effective sales strategies, and close deals. A good sense of judgment helps here and, of course, your hands-on experience. Many sales leaders can tell you whether a lead is a hot lead or a pointless lead after just a few minutes of conversation. Tap into your experience.
- Strategic thinking
Think strategically about your team's sales efforts – A good sales manager needs to constantly identify opportunities for growth, develop effective sales strategies, and make data-driven decisions.
In today's hyper-competitive business environment, responding swiftly to new information is crucial.
Sales managers must be able to evolve quickly to capitalize on changes in the market, shifts in customer needs, and unexpected challenges that may arise. You need to adjust sales strategies as needed and try new approaches. However, not everyone is at their best under pressure. If that’s you, try to anticipate changes and have backup plans in place before a crisis strikes.
- Sales coaching skills
Sales coaching can be a powerful tool for driving sales success – you must train your reps on effective sales techniques. Share all those tips, ticks and winning one-liners from all years of experience. Don’t keep it all for yourself! Share!
Sales coaching can take many forms, from one-on-one coaching sessions to group training sessions, regular check-ins or the occasional quick feedback chat.
A good sales manager should be able to identify each sales representative's strengths and weaknesses and provide personalized coaching to help them improve. Personal sales coaching involves providing individualized support and guidance to each team member. Luckily, you have conversation intelligence that can help you pin-point where each of your sales reps need help.
- Sales training skills
Sales training and sales coaching are similar, but sales coaching involves more of a personalized one-on-one approach, while sales training is like sales 101 for sales reps.
Sales training is usually delivered through a structured program, such as a workshop or seminar, and is designed to provide reps with a solid foundation – or refresher – of knowledge and skills that they can apply in their day-to-day sales activities. This might include things like product knowledge, sales techniques, or customer service skills. You can have online sales training too.
A good sales manager knows exactly when it's time for refresher training. You’ll know whether the type of sales talent you attract needs foundational training, and to what extent. You’ll be able to decide upon the best time of the year for sales training.
So there you have it! A checklist of key skills that any successful sales manager should have. Like a conductor leading their orchestra to a stunning symphony, any great sales manager will use these skills to lead their salespeople to success.
Have no fear, Wingman is here
Being a successful sales manager, motivating your sales team, and hitting those sales quotas are much easier when you have a Wingman.
Ace sales coaching and training with Wingman’s call intelligent call recordings, summaries and transcripts. You can also mute speakers to focus on your sales rep. At risk deal alerts are another way for you to know where your reps tend to falter. You’ll be able to rush to their rescue because the alerts are delivered live and directly to your Slack.
Live, contextual, in-call prompts step in for you and help your sales reps make better sales pitches.
Plus, Wingman integrates seamlessly with other business platforms, like your email inbox, CRM software, video conferencing tools and Slack. This integration makes it easy to take actions in real time so you don't have to worry about administrative tasks eating into the time you spend reviewing calls.
As for those much-need analytical skills, Wingman’s actionable intelligence has your back. Make better decisions with actionable insights and at-a-glance dashboards and success metrics.