What Defines a Truly Great Sales Manager?

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Management, and particularly sales management, operates on and obtains its results from the staff that are managed. This clearly puts emphasis on the behavioral skills required to promote good human relations and helpful attitudes.

These skills are developed mainly from:
• An interest in individual needs and points of view
• Readiness to direct time and thought to analyzing attitudes
• A sense of justice or fair dealing
• Respect for the personality of others

To enable the staff that are managed to develop their abilities profitably for themselves and their company – good human relations alone are not enough. The manager has to define tasks, set proper objectives and maintain firm control. The basic skills required to do these things are:

Analytical Ability
Information coming to Sales Managers is of all kinds – from verifiable facts to rumor. It is important to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff, to see the relevance of items of information to one another and to draw conclusions which seem to fit the facts. Again, when a problem arises, it is necessary to analyze it to seek its causes (is it a symptom of something wrong elsewhere?) and establish its true importance.

All their decisions express the judgment of the manager on a situation or a person. Having analyzed the available information, they must then judicially weigh the evidence in order to decide on the best course of action.
Few decisions can be wholly right or wrong. Most involve a balance of advantages and disadvantages – “Trade Offs”

What is clear to them must be made clear to other people also. They should ask themselves what every individual needs to know, and why, what reaction they expect from them and how they will know whether it has occurred. Good communication is not only a matter of clear thinking and expression. Since it takes place between at least two people, the communicator should be able to see their communication through the recipient’s eyes.

However, these characteristics must be underpinned by the core competencies:

The Attainment of Targets
• Always attaining targets by the time deadlines
• Knowing what to do and doing it when performance deviates from plan

Ability to Get Things Done
• A good objective setter, planner and above all controller
• Always finishing what they start

• The ability to work with others in a friendly co-operative manner, inspiring others to co-operate

• Having both the desire and the ability to ornate and develop constructive ideas
• A self-starter able to work with minimum brief

• Really dependable, thorough and accurate in everything they undertake

The Selection of People
• Ability to meet manpower quotas and surround themselves with good people
• Skilled at getting the facts and making good judgments

• Produce results through others, as opposed to trying to doing everything themselves – i.e. delegate wisely

Planning and Organizing
• Have written down objectives and plan in detail how those objectives will be attained
• Anticipate problems and plan how they will be overcome

• Ability to look well ahead, be a good forecaster and consider the future, its opportunities and problems that will have to be overcome

• Able to generate ideas frequently and always be working out ways and means of ‘doing it better?’

‘Selling’ Company Policies
• Absolutely loyal under all conditions and a ‘Company Man/Woman’
• Always ‘sell’ rather than ‘tell’

Human Relations
• Possess the desire to develop from a “Boss” to a Leader
• Ensuring that people enjoy working for them and being a good team builder

Developing Subordinates
• Always practicing what they preach
• Using all opportunities to show their people the benefits to them of reading, analyzing, practicing and improving

Problem Solving
• A positive thinker
• Able to quickly pinpoint problems, come up with solutions and get the action going

Technical Knowledge
• Have an exceptional understanding of their specialty area and continually striving to improve that knowledge and keep up-to-date
• Management Knowledge – Have a sound knowledge of modern management techniques applicable to their field and continually developing themselves in this area

Knowledge of Policies
• Have a complete understanding of company policies and procedures

• Have a highly mature approach to most situations, have and exercise a great deal of commonsense

• Possess a zest for the job and always seen to be enthusiastic
• Smile easily and have a positive, eager and responsive attitude

Ability to Work Under Pressure
• Be able to maintain enthusiasm and good attitudes when the going is tough

A sales manager may or may not be an outstanding salesperson. The important thing is that he/she should be a good manager. This is their individual and unique contribution to their company.

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  1. says


    Another excellent post (as always).

    If I were to add anything to the list, it would be that the sales manager must be strategically able to tell exactly what position the salesperson is in with regard to his prospect. Often the sales people don’t know because they are to close to the picture.

    This may be implied with your item “problem solving” but thought I would mention it, because it is a necessity for sales management success.

    Great stuff…


  2. says

    Great staff Jonathan! You hit really the nail with your exhaustive list. I completely agree with all your points. I would, however, add one more – “appraising staff”, which distinguishes a true Leader/Manager from a Boss.

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