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The role of a sales manager

So you want to become a successful sales manager?

You may be a successful salesperson but you’ll need a very different set of skills, drive and behaviour to ensure that you and your team thrive.

Being a great salesperson is a great foundation to being a successful sales manager, but a good track record as a salesperson doesn’t guarantee success as a sales manager, this must be accompanied by a variety of skills including leadership, communication, strategic planning abilities, analysis and critical thinking, and adaptability.

What does a sales manager do on a day to day basis?

You want to become a sales manager, but what exactly does a sales manager do?

Sales managers’ responsibilities vary depending on the size of organisation and type of product/ service they sell. However, all sales managers are responsible for building, leading and managing a team of salespeople within an organisation.

Most sales manager job roles consist of:

  • Managing, leading and inspiring your team to drive performance

  • Understanding and motivating your team

  • Setting sales goals and targets

  • Creating sales plans and workflows

  • Growing and building your sales team through recruitment

  • Identifying and addressing challenges

What skills do you need to become a sales manager?

To become a successful sales manager, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the right sales skills. While there is no doubt that hands-on experience in the role is beneficial, there are a wide variety of equally advantageous skills that you can master, through other experience, to thrive in the role as a sales manager.

The essential skills you need to become a successful sales manager are:

  • Leadership

  • Effective communication

  • Adaptability

  • Task delegation

  • Analysis and critical thinking

  • Strategic planning abilities

How can you demonstrate these skills in your current role?

It is vital to have experience implementing the skills needed to become an effective sales manager. This can be done through demonstrating these core skills and qualities in your current role.

1. Practice self-motivation and resilience

Every working day can be different as a sales manager, making the ability to adapt a vital skill to success.

Why? Because working every day to drive performance, motivate your team and create sales plans can be exhausting. You’ll hear “no” a lot. And you’ll just have to keep your chin up and keep going.

A strong work ethic is critical in sales. You must learn how to work hard and smart, there is no room for coasting in this field. If you keep grinding, you’ll see results. So, if you can consistently display resilience and self-motivation, you are on your way to becoming a valuable sales manager.

2. Planning and organisation

Being incredibly well organised is key as a sales manager. The ability to plan carefully, prepare adequately and ensure deadlines are achieved will provide skills in strategic planning, task delegation and adaptability that are absolutely essential in becoming a sales manager.

Consider this: in order to be successful in sales, you'll be required to write daily reports, create complete work plans, keep records, and do regular analysis. If you're not a diligent note-taker and all-around meticulous human being, how effective do you think you'll be at completing the above?

3. Take on more responsibility

If you're already working in sales, you may demonstrate that you're cut out for sales management and can take on more responsibilities by actively seeking out new responsibilities. Always be on the lookout for fresh ways to contribute and assist your organisation outside of what your job description outlines.

For example, you may volunteer to coach and train new colleagues to improve your communication and task delegation skills. You could also offer to write for your organisation’s blog, allowing you to demonstrate expertise and once again, improve communication skills.

4. Demonstrate Leadership Capabilities

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a career in sales leadership is to begin demonstrating leadership capabilities within your current sales role, here are some of the way you can begin to demonstrate leadership capabilities in your current role

  • Lead from the front and take responsibility for the teams performance as well as you own performance

  • Challenge your teammates and peers positively to improve their performance

  • Provide coaching to a colleague

  • Become a mentor for a new starter or a colleague having a challenging time.

5. Participate in relevant training

Allow yourself to grow at any given opportunity, whether that is through personal skill development and implementation, or through education and training opportunities. Participating in relevant managerial, sales and leadership training programmes will allow for the growth of vital skills that can be applied to sales management.

If you have these skills, or are working on gathering them, you're far better prepared than you might believe for a transition into sales management. Now all you have to do is focus on communicating your transferable skills clearly in your resume and interviews, and you'll be on your way to making the leap in no time.

Ready to become a sales manager?

Sign up for our Sales Management & Leadership course – available as a public workshop, bespoke in-house training, or live online course.

Think Selling Sales Training offers a range of courses suited to everyone from individuals looking to develop their own sales skills to companies looking to improve the performance of their whole sales department.

Browse our range of sales courses and bespoke training offers, or get in touch for more information.

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