​Who Makes the Best Sales Manager?

Get to Know 8 Necessary Qualities

So you've been a salesperson for years. Now your company announces that they have a sales manager position vacant. Considering that you're their only sales staffer with the most experience and the best sales record to boot, you believe that you're a shoo-in for the job. They reveal their choice, and surprise, surprise-it's not you.

The common belief is that the top salesperson is the best candidate for a vacant sales management job. Though it's not unusual for this to happen, this isn't always the case. That's because selling and managing a sales team requires a different set of knowledge, attitude and skills. If you want to notch that sales manager position the next time it's open, make sure you work hard to possess the following attributes in spades.

1. Confidence

The sales team looks up to its manager for inspiration and motivation. A great sales manager can inspire the confidence of his team by never failing to always be self-assured. When faced with issues, the manager will evaluate the situation, consider all possible solutions, and choose the best one swiftly and calmly. If the manager can't keep emotions in check, that panic and distress will be evident in the team. Remaining calm, calculated and confident even in the most trying times can inspire members to follow suit, which not only reduces workplace tension but also helps team members work more cohesively.

2. Seeing the big picture

It's easy to get lost in the details, but while taking a closer look at things has its place, it's equally important to step back and look at things from a vantage point. Doing so can help you identify and reflect on the team's progress, predict outcomes, draw up plans, and consider alternative strategies, if necessary. By learning to look at the big picture, you can bring fresh ideas to the table, see things that other's do not, and discern if the small steps you must take to keep the team on the right path or back into it.

3. Strategic thinking

A strategic-minded sales manager will continuously find ways to raise his or her team to new levels of greatness. The strategy is all about gaining an advantageous position over obstacles and adversaries, and so a strategic thinker is someone who seeks and observes trends, embraces conflict, and is not afraid to ask the tough questions. When you understand the strategy, you'll continuously bolster your sales processes with detailed solutions that foster growth.

4. Motivational skills

Good sales managers know the right path to take-meanwhile, great sales managers can convince their people to take and stay on that path. Motivating your sales team to work hard toward a common goal can be done with encouragement, recognition, feedback, and equipping each team member with the skills and tools he or she needs to succeed. Always be approachable and be ready for answers when team members ask for guidance. A little encouragement goes a long way, and if you seek greatness, you should be able to inspire the same from your team members as well.

5. Leading by example

You won't be able to convince people to follow you unless you show them that you 'practice what you preach,' 'that you walk the talk,' and that 'your actions speak louder than your words.' All these idioms mean one thing - you need to lead by example, which is the best way to earn your people's trust and respect. You need to invest yourself in your team and make the necessary sacrifices. Focus less on making yourself look good. Hold your team accountable, push them out of their comfort zone, and drive them to success. More often than not, sales reps will mirror his or her manager's actions and performance. Do your job to the best of your ability, and your people will do the same.

6. Living by the 'Kaizen' code

Kaizen is a Japanese word that means continuous improvement of working practices done in small, sustainable steps. Small-scale successes are a necessary foundation for bigger breakthroughs, and in sales, this means engaging every team member in regularly monitored and updated improvement processes. Improvement strategies such as webinars, trainings, scheduled job assessments, white papers, and the like. These tools can help you lead your salespersons on a path that they understand and affect both their short- and long-term goals in a positive way. With Kaizen, you demonstrate that you can help your people get more business, which can help you earn their respect.

7. Trusting others to do their job

Micromanagement can be a tempting trap to fall into, especially for new leaders. After all, the more you control your employees, the more the results will be to your liking, right? Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. In practice, micromanaging your employees stifles their productivity. Instead of establishing a more harmonious relationship between you and your sales team it tends to drive a wedge between you and them. Learn to loosen the reins and be comfortable depending on others. On the other hand, you can also make micromanagement work for you, first by fostering a line of communication with your people. Sit down with your team about its goals. Instead of reminding them of their quotas, ask them how they can contribute to the achievement of the goal. This will allow them to own the fruits of their efforts and value their accomplishments better.

8. Making achievements and recognitions personal

The team's success is your success, and that's the reason you must take their achievements personally. Acknowledge each person's efforts, and as much as possible let them choose their own recognition. This gives these honors a lot more substance. A vacation trip, tickets to a concert, spa treatments-use rewards that actually mean something to your people instead of letting management dictate what they should receive. You can expect them to be more motivated in their work if you do so.

Different managers have different personalities and follow different paths to ensure their team's success. Nevertheless, these eight qualities are essential to every sales manager, and should always be taken to heart.

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