Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Charlotte Powell. Her opinions are her own.
The importance of sales to the success of an organization cannot be overstated. As quoted in Inc, “Sales are to business like oxygen is to humans.” Without a capable sales team, your business will suffocate. You could have the best product or service imaginable, but without a dedicated, motivated, and talented team of sales professionals, your company won’t have the opportunity to reach its true potential.
Unfortunately, we live in a time of sales talent shortage. Baby Boomers are retiring every day, and fewer millennials are pursuing a career in sales. Sales jobs are among the hardest to fill, and this comes as no surprise — it takes a very particular person to thrive in sales. You need to be able to handle high levels of stress, demanding customers, and increasingly long sales cycles. But while it might be hard to find a great salesperson, finding a talented sales manager can sometimes feel like an impossible feat.
So what should recruiting managers be looking for when hiring a Sales Manager? Although we believe that sales is a skill that you can learn, certain characteristics and personality traits make for successful Sales Managers. These are the people who will be leading a team of salespeople, setting goals, building a sales plan, analyzing data, and hiring the right people — you want to make sure you select just the right candidate to help lead your business to success.
Below are eight qualities, abilities, and characteristics present in the best and most successful Sales Managers:
1. They Know the Difference between Leadership and Micromanagement
When hiring a Sales Manager, ask tailored questions to determine their leadership style. You are looking for someone who can create and share a vision with their team while supporting them and providing the tools and equipment they need. The best Sales Managers are there for their team as a coach and a mentor, but they know when to take a step back — they refrain from micromanagement.
We all know sales can be a numbers game, but at its heart, it’s also about people. Refrain from hiring a Sales Manager who is overly driven by performance based on deadlines and metrics. These are the types of managers who often resort to micromanagement. These Sales Managers spend so much of their time doing the jobs of their team that they fall behind with their own responsibilities. On top of this, they will alienate and frustrate their team, who will inevitably end up handing in their notice.
2. Effective Sales Managers Are Aware of the Value of Regular, Positive Feedback
Great Sales Managers know two key things:
- Regular feedback is important
- Feedback is more effective when you focus on strengths, rather than negatives
To keep your team motivated and dedicated to constant self-improvement, they need to know how they are doing. We’re seeing a shift in performance management — companies are moving away from annual appraisals and towards a more agile system of regular feedback. This can only be a good thing because employees have made it clear they want more feedback discussions and want to develop trusting relationships with their leaders.
But the frequency of feedback isn’t the only important factor — good Sales Managers know that positive feedback is particularly powerful. Managers who focus on strengths are 85% more likely to achieve above-average levels of performance. Refrain from hiring managers who focus on the negative. Instead, look for someone who can help employees perform to (and further develop) their strengths.
3. Sales Managers Are Good Communicators and Listeners
Look for a Sales Manager who values authentic, transparent communication. Avoid someone who relies heavily upon “sales speak.” You want a Sales Manager who can talk plainly, in straightforward English, to connect with their team. Your Sales Manager will be heading up a team who need to feel comfortable approaching him or her for feedback, input, and training and development needs. They also need to know when to stop talking and start listening. Sales managers should feel positive about taking employee feedback and suggestions on board.
4. Good Managers Value Constant Self-Improvement and Training
The best leaders are constant learners. They want to improve continually — and they also understand the importance of sales training and development for their team. Great Sales Managers know that their sales team won’t be able to meet and surpass their goals and quotas without a supportive leader who provides them with the opportunity for growth. It’s been shown that sales teams with comprehensive and ongoing training have a 218% higher income per employee than those without. It’s all about investment — the more Sales Managers put into their teams, the more they get out of them and the more the company profits.
5. Sales Managers Motivate
When hiring a Sales Manager, you want someone good at sales — but this isn’t enough. As a manager, getting great personal results is no longer sufficient. Sales Managers need to be able to motivate and inspire great performance from their sales team members, encouraging them to maximize their full potential. Look for a Sales Manager who is passionate about helping others excel.
6. They Are Fair
We know that sales is a stressful vocation and that Sales Managers have a lot of pressure on their shoulders — but they should still be fair and treat their team with respect. You should look to recruit a Sales manager with empathy. You don’t want to hire someone who will tank levels of employee morale with their turbulent, unpredictable nature and their unreasonable demands.
7. Sales Managers Are Ambitious — but Realistic
Sales Managers should constantly be helping their team to surpass expectations and excel. It’s important to stretch yourself and have high aspirations — but good Sales Managers know the difference between ambition and impossibility. Unrealistic expectations do no good to anyone and only encourage employee burnout.
8. They Make Sales Fun
This is perhaps the most important characteristic — pure love and passion for sales. The best Sales Managers care about their profession. They care about the happiness of their team, and they want to cultivate a positive, fun atmosphere that will help close more sales.