Sales managers have a huge responsibility in a company. They’re the ones responsible for generating revenue each month.
That revenue is used to pay salaries, fund operations, and invest in development and growth. Without a good sales team, companies will struggle to meet objectives.
This is a critical role within a company, and it’s a big reason why sales managers are paid about $124,000 a year on average.
If you’re a sales manager or want to grow your career, you need to learn the skills and tools that you can use to have a long successful career.
Read this guide to learn what sales managers do and how you can grow your sales team to be top in your organization.
What Does a Sales Manager Do?
Sales managers are responsible for leading a sales team within an organization. Depending on the size of the organization, they may do some selling themselves while leading one or two other sales reps.
In large organizations, they may have to oversee a team of 20 sales reps. They ensure that each rep is making enough calls and closing enough sales to make quota each month.
It’s actually much harder than it sounds. You’re dealing with many different personalities, which can make managing difficult.
You’re also facing pressure from your higher-ups if your team is having a down month. No matter what the numbers are, the buck stops with you.
Statistically, you have the odds stacked against you. Roughly 57% of salespeople failed to make quota in 2017.
How Sales Managers Are Hired
Part of the problem for sales managers lies in how they were hired. If you were promoted from within your organization, there’s a very good chance that it’s because you were a great salesperson.
This is a common flaw in the hiring process. Organizations assume that great salespeople are going to make great sales managers. That only makes you qualified to go on ride-alongs and help your team close sales.
The best managers know how to get the most out of their team, so the sales managers don’t have to go on ride-alongs all the time.
Sales managers have limited training in developing leadership skills, coaching, and motivating employees. They also don’t have experience recruiting, hiring, and firing employees.
You’re paid well to show everyone what worked for you as a salesperson. What worked for you doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.
The Top Tips for Sales Managers
This guide will show you how to develop the necessary skills to become a great sales manager. Follow these top tips.
1. Create Sales Systems and Strategies
Everything starts at the top of your organization. The brand, the strategy, the purpose and values of your company are the leading drivers for your sales team.
Failure to recognize those items can result in poor sales results. It’s too easy for sales teams to “dial for dollars” and “always be closing.”
Those are old-school ways of approaching sales. They’re also the least-inspiring. Sales teams that are inspired are tied to the purpose and values of the company.
They’re also deeply connected with the other members of the sales team. You have the opportunity to set the tone within your organization to create a culture that your team carries throughout the day.
Once you have those aspirational values down, you have to develop systems and processes to manage your team. These systems can be something along the lines of using a CRM that reps update consistently.
You can also develop sales strategies to make better use of your team’s time. For example, your team can spend 50% of the time on prospects later in the buying cycle, 25% of the time on mid-stage prospects, and 25% of the time on prospecting and early-stage buyers.
2. Build a Strong Team
What does a powerful team look like to you? You may think that an all-star team of the best salespeople is the way to go.
You can take a page from great sports teams to know that there’s so much more to a team than just what looks great on paper.
There are many examples of teams that should have won major trophies based on talent alone, but didn’t for various reasons.
Everything has to come together. You have to have personalities that work well together, and they have sales talent.
The one thing that separates great teams for everyone else is that they all believe in a greater vision. They go out of their way to help each other be successful rather than take a “me-first” approach.
You have to understand this as you build your team and recruit different players. It’s much better to have average salespeople who are committed to your cause and can improve than to have a team of all-stars that don’t get along.
3. Coach Your Team
How does a coach operate? There are hundreds of different ways to coach your team. The first step is to be a good listener.
The second thing is to remember to treat your team members as individuals. Each team member has their own motivations and responds to different messages.
Where many sales managers get hung up is that they try to be a problem-solver for their reps. This can actually do more harm than good.
When you’re solving problems for your team, you’re removing obstacles for them. That can be seen as a good thing.
The problem is that you’re not teaching your team how to solve those problems themselves. You’re an enabler more than anything else.
Instead of being a problem solver for your employees, you have to be skilled in asking the right questions to help employees solve their own problems.
That is what a great coach and manager does. Your sales team will come to you less often because they’re busy solving their own problems.
4. Make Sales a Game
People are usually motivated when something is a stake, whether it’s pride or the opportunity to win something.
You can make sales a fun game within your team, or you can put your team against other sales teams. Playing a game like a fantasy sales team can inspire and motivate your team to have fun while doing the hard work of selling.
5. Work with Marketing
Sales and marketing have historically gotten along just as well as cats and dogs. The two departments are usually at each other’s throats, blaming each other when things are going wrong.
Sales teams blame marketing that they’re given horrible, unqualified leads. Marketing blames sales for their lack of closing skills.
As a sales manager, you have an opportunity to go against this trend. You can work with marketing to develop your entire pipeline.
You can work together to create a sales readiness strategy. This can start with marketing delivering the right content to the right target. That will attract the right leads.
Marketing and sales can work together to nurture these leads and then sales can close them. That is the best way to deliver results to the organization.
6. Leadership vs. Management
There is a gulf of difference between being a leader and being a manager. A manager is focused on the tasks and operational aspects of the job.
Managers tend to focus on minute details and micromanage employees to follow very specific processes.
Leaders, on the other hand, place the focus on people instead of processes. Leaders seek to know what motivates an individual and helps them attain their goals.
Sales managers have to understand the balance between the two. If you lean too much in one direction, you’re going to miss important opportunities.
7. Take Care of Yourself
One of the most forgotten aspects of sales management is to take care of yourself. You can lose yourself and burn yourself out easily.
You can get obsessed with the numbers and taking care of your team. There are times when you have to step away from the chaos and recharge.
It’s not easy when you have to make quota after quota. Yet, it’s necessary if you want to have a long and thriving career as a sales manager.
The Best Advice for Sales Managers
Sales managers are among the most highly paid employees in an organization. There’s a great reason for that. They’re under a huge amount of pressure to get the most out of sales reps and make revenue numbers every single day.
If you’re on track to become a sales manager, the most important thing you can learn isn’t how to sell. It’s how to build a culture within your sales team and how to lead them. Your team will be motivated by more things beyond money. Use them to your advantage.
Do you want to learn more about leadership? Visit this site often for tips and resources to help you grow your leadership skills.