The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts sales manager job demand will increase by 4% through 2029. But being a sales manager can be highly stressful. Stakes are high, quotas must be reached, and you must regularly motivate your team to achieve the impossible. To be the leader they need to reach sales goals and KPIs, you’ve got to be the best sales manager.
The ultimate sales manager should have a deep understanding of the product or service they are selling, identify the customer’s pain points, and provide tailored solutions to their customers’ needs. But leading a team of effective salespeople requires more than great salesmanship.
A recent Gartner report found that 61% of chief sales officers felt improving their sales managers’ effectiveness was their top priority. To reach your potential, these are the five most critical sales manager skills you need to acquire to be the best at your job:
First and foremost, a strong sales manager must inspire and motivate their team, provide guidance, and set a clear, achievable vision while also developing and empowering their team members. The best sales managers will actively establish strong leadership skills, such as:
Setting clear goals and expectations and communicating expectations clearly to ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives.
Providing training and development opportunities to help the team improve their skills and reach their full potential.
Communicating effectively to their team and potential customers.
Coaching and mentoring their team members, helping them to develop their skills and reach their full potential.
Leading by example, demonstrating the behaviors and attitudes they expect from their team.
Encouraging collaboration and teamwork within their team, encouraging members to work together to achieve their goals.
Providing recognition and rewarding the efforts and achievements of their team members to motivate them to reach their goals.
Staying ahead of the competition by following market trends and changes and adapting their sales plan accordingly.
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A sales manager should be able to think strategically, anticipate changes in the market, and adapt their sales plan accordingly. Strategic thinking is an essential sales manager skill because they need to anticipate changes in the market and adapt their sales plan accordingly. Some best practices of strategic thinking include:
Following market trends and changes that could impact their sales. This will help them to anticipate potential roadblocks and take action to mitigate them before they occur.
Analyzing data to identify patterns and trends in their sales will help them make data-driven decisions and improve their sales strategies.
Continuously reviewing and adapting their sales plan to stay ahead of the market trends and changes in customer behavior.
Utilizing sales enablement tools, such as CRM, sales automation software, and marketing automation software, will streamline the sales process, efficiency, and performance.
Building and maintaining valuable relationships with customers, partners, and other network contacts, to stay informed about the market and identify opportunities.
Creating a flexible plan that can adapt to market and customer needs changes.
Encouraging their team to think creatively, try new approaches, and experiment with new ideas.
Effective sales managers possess excellent communication skills and can convey clear and concise information to their teams and customers. The best communicators will:
Communicating goals and expectations clearly to ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives.
Listening actively to their team members and customers to understand their needs and respond accordingly.
Providing positive and constructive feedback to their team members regularly to help them improve their performance.
Being transparent with their team, keeping them informed about changes in the market, business goals, and KPI progress.
Speaking with clear and concise language when communicating with their team and customers.
Being responsive to inquiries and requests from their team and customers
Encouraging and creating an open communication environment where team members feel safe to share their thoughts and ideas.
4. Coaching and Mentoring
A strong sales manager should provide guidance and support to their team members, helping them develop their skills and reach their full potential. 38% of sales managers focus on selling skills when coaching their reps. To improve your coaching and mentoring skills by:
Setting clear expectations and goals for the coaching and mentoring relationship to ensure that both parties are on the same page.
Tailoring the coaching and mentoring to the individual’s needs, strengths, and areas for improvement, to provide the most effective support.
Providing regular feedback, both positive and constructive, to improve your team’s skills and performance.
Encouraging open communication and fostering a supportive environment for asking questions and seeking guidance.
Being a role model by exhibiting the behavior and attitude you expect.
5. Analytical Skills
Another essential sales manager skill you need is the ability to analyze data, track performance, and make data-driven decisions. While having analytical skills can be inherent, you can also improve your analytical skills as a sales manager by:
Becoming proficient in data analysis tools, such as spreadsheets, databases, and business intelligence software, to analyze sales data and track performance.
Developing a structured approach to data analysis, such as using a specific method to ensure that data is analyzed consistently and logically.
Conducting market research to identify trends and changes in the market that could impact sales performance.
Keeping track of key performance indicators (KPIs) such as lead conversion rate, sales per rep, and customer retention rate.
Taking relevant courses, attending workshops, or reading relevant books or articles on improving analytical skills.
Collaborating with other departments such as marketing, finance, or product development to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the business and its market.
Challenging assumptions and looking for alternative explanations for data and trends.
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The Best Sales Managers are Continually Improving their Skills
You may already have some of these skills, and others may require more effort to be natural. But by continually striving to improve your sales manager skills, you’ll have what it takes to be at the top of your game.
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