How often do we see it? A salesperson with star power is thrust into the spotlight and promoted to Sales Manager....

Often an outstanding salesperson is rewarded with a promotion to Sales Manager as a token of appreciation for his or her performance. But it is a fallacy to think that excellence in sales automatically qualifies for leadership in sales management.

Many companies ignore this important distinction. They promote someone to Sales Manager without the necessary courses and guidance in this new role. No training, no induction period, just hop, hop into the deep end of management. The result? You guessed it: they lose an excellent salesperson and get a poor or very mediocre Sales Manager in return.

"A good Sales Manager makes the whole team better, a bad manager makes the whole team worse..."

Sales Management is essential to the success and growth of any organization. But what makes a Sales Manager really good? This article highlights the crucial characteristics of a good Sales Manager.

The Sales Manager: the backbone of any sales team.

The primary role of a Sales Manager not to meet targets, but to make his entire team better. Meeting targets and exceeding them is then the logical consequence.

This person acts as a leader, motivator and coach, playing a key role in achieving sales goals and maximizing revenue. But what is amazing is that most Sales Managers have never been formally trained in Sales Management.

"Sales Managers are usually 'just' thrown into the deep end, swimming without life jackets."

Do you see the irony? They learn the trade by trial and error. The damage is usually not immediately apparent, but those who dig deeper see: declining team morale, lower team productivity, lagging results, team members leaving, etc.

This lack of formal courses means that many Sales Managers are not fully aware of the nuances and best practices of effective Sales Management. They often have to find their own way, which can result in unnecessary mistakes and missed opportunities.

It is a miracle that, despite these obstacles, some manage to hold their own. Usually on the basis of ego, directive leadership and by manifesting themselves as "Chief Firefighter," that is, whenever things get tense, taking the helm from a team member. Then the Sales Manager can once again show how well they can sell themselves.

Unfortunately, however, there are also many where stress levels rise to unprecedented levels and and Sales Manager slowly but surely burns out.

"How many Sales Managers do you know who are 50+ and are held in their hands by not only upper management but, also by team members?"

Fortunately, Sales Managers don't have to learn only by trial and error. With the right training and guidance, they can excel from day one and grow more and more in what it means to be a top Sales Manager.

It is important then that such a pathway addresses 5 core competencies:

1) Strong Leadership Skills

Leadership goes beyond giving orders; it is about the ability to influence and guide a group of people toward achieving common goals. An effective Sales Manager knows that good leadership begins with the ability to communicate, inspire and connect. They take the time to understand the motivations of their team members, provide clear direction and ensure an inclusive team culture. It is also essential for them to be decisive, even in difficult times, while always being open to feedback and input from the team. A true leader also acknowledges the team's achievements and efforts, creating an atmosphere of appreciation and respect.

Leading by example

A good Sales Manager realizes that leadership is also a matter of exemplary behavior. They demonstrate integrity in their actions, are transparent in their decision-making, and always remain committed to the company's values and goals. By setting high standards for themselves and showing consistency in their actions, they inspire their team to do the same. This exemplary behavior provides the basis for mutual trust and respect. If they expect their team to work hard, act ethically and constantly strive to improve, they will take the first step themselves. This kind of leadership encourages the team to reach their potential and go beyond what is expected of them.

2) Exceptional Coaching and Development Skills.

The ability to coach effectively is perhaps one of the most crucial skills of a Sales Manager. While development skills focus on identifying and improving a team member's capabilities, coaching is about guiding, motivating and supporting each individual in their daily challenges and successes. A good Sales Manager knows the importance of active listening, providing focused feedback and asking the right questions to help his team members find their own answers. This manager creates a safe environment where team members feel valued, challenged and supported in their personal growth process.

Culture of continuous learning

In addition to coaching skills, the better Sales Manager emphasizes the importance of a learning environment. In the rapidly changing world of sales, stagnation is not an option. By fostering a culture of continuous learning, the Sales Manager ensures that the team is always looking to improve. This includes regular training sessions, room for reflection and learning from mistakes. It is not just about achieving targets, but also the growth process towards them. The focus is on both personal and professional growth, with the ultimate goal being to take the team to a higher level of expertise and performance.

3) In-depth knowledge of Sales Methodologies.

An effective Sales Manager has a thorough knowledge of various sales methodologies. It is essential to know what best practices exist in sales, and which methodologies are most appropriate for his or her team. This requires not only theoretical knowledge, but also an understanding of how these methodologies can be adapted and optimized for the teams, company and market conditions.

The art of adaptation and implementation

A Sales Manager with in-depth knowledge of sales methodologies can not only select them based on their effectiveness, but also adapt them to the unique needs of his team and organization. He or she understands how these methodologies work in practice, how to tailor them to the team's specific goals and challenges, and how to train and support the team to successfully implement and master these methodologies. The result is a Sales Paybook tailored to the needs of the business, leading to increased efficiency, effectiveness and sales results.

4) Results-oriented 20/80 Mindset

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a superior Sales Manager is an unwavering focus on, "To Get, Keep & Develop more Customers. This mindset goes beyond simply chasing sales numbers. It is about understanding what those numbers mean for the company as a whole, recognizing trends, and anticipating future challenges and opportunities. A Sales Manager with a results-oriented mindset is never completely satisfied with the status quo. They analyze performance data to identify bottlenecks, exploit opportunities to improve efficiencies, and with a 20/80 mindset always look for innovative ways to strengthen sales performance.

Continuous pursuit of improvement

In the world of sales, what works today may be obsolete tomorrow. Therefore, it is essential for a Sales Manager to foster a culture of continuous improvement. This means not only adapting to changing market dynamics, but also encouraging the team to be self-critical and evaluate their own processes. It involves being proactive, willing to revise their approach and try new strategies. By creating an atmosphere in which each team member strives for self-improvement, the Sales Manager ensures that the entire team grows, learns and excels together in their sales efforts.

5) Excellent Recruitment Skills

With an average turnover rate of about 20% within B2B sales, a Sales Manager faces the challenge of recruiting new team members every year. This emphasizes the importance of assembling the team correctly. It's not just about the professional skills of a potential new team member, but also the personality traits that are essential for harmonious team dynamics. While skills can be learned, personality traits are often deeply ingrained. It is therefore vital for a Sales Manager to be able to thoroughly assess both aspects. After all, a wrong choice can affect the performance of the entire team.

The art of selection and integration

The recruitment process requires an astute Sales Manager capable of getting to the bottom of a candidate's core competencies and personality in a short period of time. 'This is easier said, than done', and requires more than just the click factor. After hiring, the next crucial step is to integrate the new recruit within the team. A skilled Sales Manager will know exactly what to pay attention to during the onboarding period, how to quickly fill any gaps in knowledge and skills, and how to induct and support the new recruit as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Conclusion: a good Sales Manager

It is clear that the Sales Manager role is one of the most complex and challenging roles within a sales environment and also has a high risk of detriment that goes beyond the welfare of just the Sales Manager. It is not enough to just be a great salesperson; one must also have the leadership skills, knowledge and insight necessary to effectively lead and supervise a team. Unfortunately, the importance of these knowledge and skills is often overlooked, leading to unprepared and supported Sales Managers struggling in their new roles.

There are specific traits and areas of knowledge that are thus essential for success.

However, with the right course, support and resources, Sales Managers can not only overcome these challenges but also excel in their roles, leading to more successful sales organizations. Companies would do well to take the transition from salesperson to manager seriously and invest in the development of their Sales Managers. But also to take already existing Sales Mangers to the next level. Investing in the skills of a Sales Manager is one of the most profitable investments you can make as an organization.

Learn more about how then?

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