Sales managers are some of the most valuable people in any business. Superstar sales managers contribute their unique skills to drive profits and take businesses to new heights.
Ready to join the elite? Here’s a closer look at 17 essential sales skills that can help you become an amazing sales manager.
17 Sales Skills You Should Master
Let’s jump right into the action, and check out the best skills for sales managers. This list will also show you how to sharpen them.
1. Recruit and train the right salespeople.
The right salespeople can make or break a sales department. Master sales managers are able to spot and nurture the right sales talent. So they need to be able to enhance the performance of their department.
But there are no easy tasks in sales. It’s a tough job that requires a blend of unique personality traits. So sales managers have to hone their people skills and spot these traits in people.
How to find and hire the best salespeople
You should try to develop close ties with HR, in order to develop a rigid recruitment funnel and sharpen your recruitment skills. It’s also important to learn to carefully consider your team and identify the profiles you need. To nurture your team, check out our list of the 30 best sales training courses.
2. Analyze the performance of your team.
Sales is a field that’s driven by quantifiable statistics. The best sales managers can interpret the numbers to find out how their team is performing.
To guide their decision-making, sales managers should look at the right statistics. For example, a sales manager might find that productivity is lower than expected, so he or she can make an effort to try to resolve the issue.
How to analyze the performance of your sales team
First and foremost, you should take stock of the tools you’re using. Can those tools give you the data you need? In order to find out, you should develop an understanding of a way to assess these numbers and respond appropriately.
3. Create and implement a sales strategy.
Since sales managers have expert knowledge about their organizations, the rest of the team looks to them for a great sales strategy. The best sales managers are able to create clear, accurate plans that eliminate chaos and improve results.
Sales managers should understand both sides of a sales strategy. On one hand, they should understand the purpose of the sales strategy. On the other hand, they should understand ways to create this strategy.
How to improve your sales strategy
Lots of resources out there can help you create a fantastic sales strategy. You should explore these resources and learn ways to package and present your strategy. This guide to building a sales strategy is a great place to start.
4. Develop and meet sales targets.
Every sales manager knows it’s very difficult to create and meet sales targets. The best sales managers are able to call on reliable data that will create sales targets that are achievable yet ambitious.
In addition, sales managers keep a constant eye on goals that could appropriately steer their teams. Therefore, sales managers have better chances to boost the results of their teams and hit these critical targets.
How to develop and meet sales targets
To develop a true understanding of numbers, you must develop your general business understanding. Your targets should be logical, accurate, and achievable. This guide about setting and achieving sales targets is useful.
5. Nourish an honest, clear communication style.
Sales is a tough field that’s littered with tricky conversations. Sales managers are able to confidently stride through these conversations and communicate in a clear and honest way that keeps things moving forward.
This communication style can help sales managers persuade your prospects and clients. When it comes to managing a sales team (especially salespeople with senior profiles), this style can be a major asset.
How to develop an honest communication style
Do you have a good understanding of the way you come across during professional conversations? Try to clearly consider the way you sound and the impressions you make on people. Also, try to incorporate the best qualities of your idols and mentors.
6. Harness an analytical mindset.
Over the course of the day, sales managers have to wear a lot of hats and constantly change their mindsets. The best sales managers are charming and social, but they remain deeply analytical and focused.
To perform well, sales managers need to develop an analytical mindset. This state of mind helps them dig deep into the numbers while they maintain control over their targets and the performances of their teams. This mindset also helps them develop their business acumen.
How to develop an analytical mindset
You can use lots of techniques to improve your analytical thinking skills. These techniques can improve your ability to think on your feet, analyze large swathes of data, and solve problems as they arise. To learn more, check out these 12 ways to improve your analytical thinking skills.
7. Master cross-functional projects
As a sales manager, you’ll probably find yourself collaborating on cross-functional projects with other departments. The best sales managers understand their responsibilities and the ways they can drive their projects forward.
Quality sales managers are respected and valued in their organizations. To lead the charge, managers and team members from other departments know they can rely on these sales managers.
How to collaborate on cross-functional projects
The key to shining during a cross-functional project is understanding the profiles and goals of your team members. For example, if you understand what marketing is hoping to achieve, you can collaborate on a deeper level and amaze your team.
8. Perfect your time management skills.
Sales managers often find themselves rushing around when hopping from task to task. The best sales managers are able to take control of their time, optimize their productivity, and maximize the results they achieve.
For sales managers, time management is a key skill. If sales managers aren’t able to properly keep track of their time, they’ll struggle to stay motivated and effectively lead their teams to success.
How to improve your time management skills
If you’re concerned about your time management skills, you should try to follow some practical steps. For example, you could really take the time to think about how long a particular task will take your team to complete, then try setting strict deadlines.
9. Learn how to motivate a team.
Salespeople turn to their managers for guidance and assistance. When the going gets tough, they also often turn to their managers for motivation. We all know that the sales grind can be difficult. But the best sales managers are always there to rally the troops.
To be able to read the moods of their team members, sales managers should develop their management skills. The most effective sales managers are intuitively able to take the necessary steps to motivate their salespeople.
How to motivate your sales team
One big part of being able to motivate your sales team boils down to your ability to understand people and authentically communicate. So you should take the time to understand the personalities and preferences of your team members.
10. Remain calm during tough situations.
The world of sales is filled with demanding situations that will test your ability to keep your cool. In these moments, it’s imperative for sales managers to remain calm. This practice will be an important part of finding the best way to move forward without making your team anxious.
Occasionally, a big deal might fall through, or your CRM may unexpectedly crash. Leading sales managers are able to quickly assess these situations and find appropriate solutions.
How to handle tough sales situations
As a sales manager, it’s imperative that you learn from your experiences and maintain a level head at all times. To effectively handle these tricky situations, you should focus on being able to manage stress and avoid burnout.
11. Understand and collaborate with marketing.
Sales and marketing are closely related. Effective sales managers have a good understanding of marketing, including the role of the team, its goals, and the fundamentals of the field. This practice will help you more seamlessly collaborate.
Truly stellar sales managers understand the ways sales and marketing teams work together to lay the foundations for fruitful cooperation. Specifically, they maintain good relationships with other marketing managers and foster close ties between the two departments.
How to develop a positive relationship with marketing
If you find it challenging to cooperate with your marketing team, you might discover that it boils down to your understanding of the field and your team. To drive real value, you should understand the role marketing plays and the ways your departments can cooperate.
12. Gradually tweak sales strategies.
Countless factors can have an impact on your sales strategy. Since the best sales managers understand this concept, they’re able to predict these changes and adjust their sales strategies without disrupting them too much.
In this sense, a sales manager is like the captain of a ship. To keep the ship moving forward, he or she should understand ways to swiftly respond to myriad changes. Managers should also figure out how to keep the teams focused without making any dramatic changes.
How to tweak your sales strategy
It’s imperative that you understand the wider context of your sales strategy. This tactic will help you identify any potential risks and create contingency plans that will keep your sales strategy functional and effective.
13. Maintain knowledge about your business.
Sales managers aren’t just masters of their fields. They also understand the industry they work in and the product or service they offer. These professionals work tirelessly to understand their businesses and become true product advocates.
Due to this sophisticated understanding, sales managers can engage in high-level conversations and provide their teams with accurate information. This tactic can elevate the sales profile in your organization and help you achieve success.
How to develop knowledge about your business
When it comes to research and learning, sales managers have to put in a lot of work. You should try to make the most of your relationships with product teams, in order to take full advantage of opportunities to learn from others.
14. Listen to the team, and act on feedback.
Salespeople need to be vocal. After all, isolation is one of the main barriers to sales employee engagement. The best sales managers lead from the front without losing sight of their team members. Sales leaders should be able to listen to their teams, understand their perspectives, and respond accordingly.
This mindset can keep sales managers open to new ideas and feedback. It also helps keep salespeople happy while they boost employee retention rates and the overall satisfaction of their sales teams.
How to listen to your sales team
You should think about your team and the way you interact with them. Are you approachable? Do your salespeople understand how and when to communicate with you? Do your salespeople feel comfortable offering suggestions? Look at reality, and try to foster a comfortable, collaborative environment.
15. Leverage the right sales tools.
Did you know that the average salesperson uses six sales tools? The right sales management tools can help make your team happier and more productive, and it can help them sell more products. However, we all know what it’s like to wrestle with a poor-quality tool.
The most effective sales managers figure out how to develop a clear understanding of the tools available on the market. To achieve maximum efficiency, they also understand how these tools integrate and collaborate.
How to choose the right sales tools
The key to putting together an amazing suite of sales tools is research. You should diligently try to develop your understanding of the tools out there and the ways they can help you. You should also understand the practical elements of each tool.
For example, UpLead helps sales managers quickly find, connect, and engage with qualified prospects to increase their sales. If you start your free 7-day trial today, you can get instant access to 46+ million contacts.
16. Make the tough decisions.
Sales managers face tough decisions almost every single day. For example, they might have to choose where to commit resources or understand when to remove a salesperson from the team.
The most valuable sales managers are able to learn from their experiences, follow their intuition, and make tough decisions. Since the rest of the team looks towards sales managers for guidance, you have to lead them.
How to handle tough sales decisions
First, you should understand that there’s a world of difference between theory and practice. A tricky decision may sound simple on paper, but the reality can be much tougher. You should learn from your experiences and the people around you, then draw on them to guide your decisions.
17. Confidently discuss money.
Sales managers often find themselves involved in high-level conversations about money (both internally and externally). The most elegant, trustworthy sales managers are able to command the conversation and approach it with care.
Sales managers should develop their business acumen and become confident about finance. This particular skill can give sales managers the confidence they need to walk the talk within the c-suite and inspire confidence.
How to speak about money as a sales manager
As a sales manager, it’s important to increase your exposure to high-level conversations and observe the ways experts speak about money. So you should borrow their key terms and adopt aspects of their demeanors.
Are you ready to master all of the skills above—and more? We hope this piece has helped you move forward on your journey to becoming the best sales manager you can be. If you want to make a big impact in your organization, learn more about the ways UpLead can help you drive growth with your targeted leads.