3 Key Qualities of Top Sales Managers

Mandy Movahhed
April 1, 2015

Broadly (and unsurprisingly), there are two kinds of sales managers in this world: good ones and bad ones. Those falling into the “good” category are great leaders who drive their sales team’s success, while those on the “bad” side of the spectrum are often micromanagers with more of an inhibiting influence on their teams. Luckily, great managers have a few things in common that we can learn from. Here are 3 key qualities to look for and/or aspire to in top sales managers:

Top Sales Managers: 3 Key Qualities

1. Team-Oriented Thinking

In our post on making the transition from sales rep to sales manager, we talked about some of the reasons why many sales reps generally tend to make very poor managers. One of the biggest reasons was an inability to manage the needs of an entire team. While sales reps are responsible for their own accounts and quotas, managers are responsible for collective goals, forecasting, and planning. Sales reps are largely independent in their day-to-day work, but managers must constantly work in collaboration with others. The best sales managers are those who not only care about the success of an entire group, but also those who help solve problems for others and make sure each individual salesperson’s targets align with the team’s overall goals and strategy.

2. An Ability to Be a Mentor, Not Just a Manager

The qualities of a great sales manager are analogous to the qualities of a great mentor. Sales managers are generous with their skills, expertise, and assistance. The lead by example, rather than micromanaging their teams. According to The Ruby Group, a sales training organization, sales managers who are “focused solely on management will only use numbers to try to drive their sales team, which can often be a disheartening tactic in a tough market. Those that focus on leadership...know that both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is important to reach goals, and they understand that their job as a leader is to help each individual find that motivation.” While great sales managers are ultimately results-oriented (and by extension numbers-driven), they are also focused on how they can coach and support their sales reps to enable their ongoing development and success.

3. An Emphasis on Giving Consistent Feedback

Sales teams are at their best when they know exactly what is expected of them, and their managers provide systems for real-time tracking and feedback. Rather than working on a performance review schedule that may be on a semi-annual or quarterly basis, top sales managers are great at providing feedback on a continued basis. This way, sales reps can continually improve and develop their skills, while immediately applying their manager’s advice to their ongoing conversations.   Top sales managers have many of the same qualities that all great managers possess––great attitudes, generosity with advice and feedback, and the ability to nurture talent in their teams. Whether you’re looking to improve your effectiveness as a manager or aspire to landing that open sales manager position, developing these qualities will go a long way.