Qualities of Successful Sales Managers

It's not uncommon for the top salesperson on the team to be promoted into a sales manager role. After all, this is someone who has mastered sales, so he must be the perfect guy to run a sales team, right? There's just one problem: sales management requires an entirely different attitude and skill set from sales. So before you consider pursuing a sales management career, ask yourself whether you possess the following attributes.

Works Well With Others

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Many top salespeople prefer to work alone. They prefer the independent feeling of being on the phone or out on the road pursuing their own prospects. But sales management requires you to work closely with other people all day long. Not only do you have to work with your team, you will also be expected to report back to upper management on a regular basis.

Comfortable Depending On Others

Salespeople are responsible for their own quotas. If a salesperson fails to make his sales, he might blame the economy or bad luck, but he can't blame his own team. But for sales managers, their goals are based on how well other people do. If his team succeeds, he succeeds. This doesn't sit well with many people – particularly former salespeople.

Is a Company Person

One of a sales manager's most important tasks is conveying information from upper management to the sales team. Any time there's a change in the compensation plan, a new product, or a territory revision, the sales manager has to explain it to the sales team. But just explaining is not enough – he has to essentially sell them on the changes. If the team doesn't like or accept management's policies, there will be serious trouble, and it's up to the sales manager to keep that from happening.

Can Handle Meetings... Lots of Meetings

If you hate sales meetings, guess what: sales managers have to attend a LOT of them. Not only does a sales manager run the regular sales meetings, he also has one-on-one meetings with individual team members, meetings with marketing, meetings with upper management, etc. During meetings with salespeople, the sales manager is responsible for coordinating things and seeing to it that the meeting is productive. With other departments and upper management, the sales manager has to represent his sales team.

Sticks to the Office

Unlike most salespeople who spend lots of time out and around visiting prospects, sales managers spend the vast majority of their time inside the office. There may be occasional offsite meetings or ride-alongs, but for the most part, a sales manager has to be in his office where he can be easily reached by his sales team.

Has Management Skills and Experience

Few salespeople have any experience with management. Of course, everyone has to start somewhere with any new skill, but jumping into sales management without management experience makes the transition much, much harder. A salesperson who is strong in other sales management skills will have a better chance than one who is already struggling in other areas.

Able to See the Big Picture

A salesperson is responsible for his own quota and accounts. But sales managers have to juggle the whole team's needs. This can be a real problem when several salespeople need help at once. Sales managers are also often responsible for setting quotas, drawing up sales plans, and forecasting, which requires plenty of analytical thinking. A sales manager who can't plan well can end up torpedoing his own team.