Sales Manager Personality Traits
There are a lot of things that go into making a great sales manager – and while no two sales managers (or sales manager jobs) are exactly the same, there are some personality traits that all of the best sales managers tend to have in common.
Do you possess these 19 traits? If not, it’s time to work on cultivating them to take your career and your team to the next level!
Sales is a tough business – one that’s been known to break people. Odds are, if you’ve reached a sales management position, then you’ve served your time in the trenches and understand the ups and downs of the selling process.
This experience is invaluable when you move up to management.
Not only will your knowledge benefit your charges – who can learn from someone who’s done the job and succeeded – but it can also help when navigating the waters of upper management, where not everyone has actually sold a product.
Unfortunately, experience can’t be taught – it must be earned. But every day in sales provides countless opportunities to learn new things. Be open to them and grow.
It feels safe to say that anyone who becomes a sales manager already has their level of focus dialed in, but the best sales managers take this to a whole other level.
There are a lot of moving parts in a sales department: there are people to manage, quotas to hit, KPIs to track, and about a million other things vying for your attention. It can be hard to not become overwhelmed by it all.
However, the best sales managers learn to shut out the noise and focus in with laser like precision on whatever it is they’re dealing with at any given moment. Cultivate this skill if you want to succeed in this field.
With advances in sales management AI technology, it has become easier than ever for managers to zero in on priority opportunities, easily visualize all the activity context, and pinpoint exactly what needs to be done in unique or complex situations. For managers with large sales teams, having a sales management AI tool in your arsenal can be the key to staying hyper-focused, efficient, and (most importantly) effective.
There’s a common misconception that many sales managers are merciless task masters driven entirely by numbers and the bottom line (we like to call it the Glengarry Glen Ross school of sales management). And while a good sales manager is always motivated by hitting goals and smashing quotas, most have realized that leading by intimidation is not the answer.
The best sales managers are master motivators who inspire their charges rather than intimidate them. It’s sort of like being a professional sports coach – you get better performance by building your team up than tearing them down.
If you don’t yet possess the skill to inspire people to tackle difficult situations, it’s time to start developing it.
The best sales managers have a gift for looking at the bigger picture, breaking it down into its individual components, and figuring out how to make things work more effectively and efficiently.
They’re able to do this because they’re not afraid to innovate.
Seeing that something isn’t working for your team can lead to a multitude of responses. Some will stay the course, others might try a minor tweak – but as the old saying goes, fortune favors the bold.
This is another area where sales management AI can power your efforts. If chasing your reps down for information and micromanaging their process is not scalable (or proving effective) for your team, explore AI tools that can automatically capture all buyer/seller activities and communications, diagnose the health or energy of the deal, and ultimately evaluate the effectiveness of your content, your sales plays, and your reps.
Great sales managers aren’t afraid to try a radical new approach with the idea that it could be a game changer.
Not every roadblock requires you to reinvent the wheel, but great sales managers aren’t afraid to dramatically overhaul things when the situation calls for it.
Sales isn’t a business for the meek – so being confident is an essential skill to cultivate if you want to truly take your sales management career to the next level.
Confidence is contagious – so be sure that your team knows you expect to succeed in all of your endeavors. But don’t mistake being confident for being cocky.
And if you’re not feeling particularly confident? Fake it till you make it.
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One thing that can kill a sales manager’s career is getting locked into routines and rigid thinking. Yes, the way you have done things for the last 20 years might be great, and it might still work, but if you’re not at least a little bit curious as to whether or not you can do things in a better, more efficient way, then you’re not being the best sales manager you can be.
Curiosity is one of the unique personality traits all the best sales managers have. It leads them to explore new opportunities, to consider new software, new training paradigms, new approaches, and more.
Being curious and inquisitive can lead to unparalleled success from things you might not have otherwise considered – or it can confirm you were already on the right track.
7 They’re Not Shy
Another great skill that many people in sales leadership positions possess is that they’re not shy.
Sales is no place for shrinking violets, so someone who’s shy isn’t likely to last long in the business.
Successful sales managers tend to be outgoing and gregarious and not afraid to offer a little bit of pushback when a customer objects to something.
This isn’t to say that you have to be an extrovert, or that there haven’t been successful salespeople who had introverted personalities, but that no matter which way your personality skews, you have to be prepared to be bold.
The good news? Overcoming shyness is actually something you can work on pretty easily. Put yourself in public situations and push yourself outside of your comfort zone a bit and you’ll eventually overcome this issue.
8 Not Easily Discouraged
Next on the list of key attribute successful sales managers have is that they’re not easily discouraged.
Let’s be honest – sales is a tough gig even in the best of times. The greatest sales people still deal with a lot of rejection, a lot of “no” answers – and a run of those can be discouraging.
Sales managers have even more potential things to be down about when things aren’t going their way – but being discouraged is not a luxury you can afford. We’ve talked about being confident and how confidence is contagious, but the same is true of discouragement. Bad morale can spread like a virus – so nip it in the bud before it’s an issue.
Accentuate the positive whenever possible and always look for the silver lining in every dark cloud. If you’re using AI technology, then you should be able to measure each effort’s impact on the energy of a deal in real-time. With this level of insight, it is much easier to celebrate the small victories along the way. Doing this, rather than saving the praise for the official close, can keep your team motivated, reinforce positive energy, breed good moral, and ultimately encourage productive behaviors.
Another key component of a successful sales personality is modesty.
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating your big wins (in fact, it’s encouraged), but don’t fall into the trap of becoming a braggart.
When a sales team hits goals, it’s always a team effort. You’re the captain who steers the ship and draws up the strategy, but don’t forget that it’s the salespeople who implement the plans and make it all happen.
Be modest and share the spotlight with your team. They’ll appreciate you for it.
Sales is often like a game of chess – only with people instead of black and white pieces of plastic. As such, it’s vitally important that a sales manager approach every facet of the sales process with a well-defined strategy in place.
Thinking several moves ahead, weighing outcomes, and being aware of best and worst case scenarios can help a sales manager see the bigger picture – while also making sure they’re not caught off guard when events don’t go precisely as planned.
This is another area that sales AI can give you a significant competitive advantage. Seeing how content, plays, communications, etc., impacts the movement of your deals in real-time will enable you to evaluate activity effectiveness immediately. And ultimately, this will empower you to make necessary strategy pivots and be agile to evolving buyer behaviors.
This one feels like another no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how many sales managers look at the job as just a profession and not a calling.
Passion ranks very high on the list of sales manager skills – if you’re not passionate about this position, then you’re unlikely to last long or ever achieve true success.
And while we’d never suggest that becoming a successful sales manager is a calling on the same level as becoming a member of the clergy, successful sales managers wake up every day, eager to confront problems, help their team, and hit their goals.
If you don’t have a passion for closing deals and making your team better, this might not be the career for you.
We’ve all heard that sales can be a cutthroat business – and it can be. You’re competing with other salespeople in different companies to close deals and there can be a bit of an “anything goes as long as we sell the product” mentality in many sales departments.
However, that should never extend to your own team – which is why the next salesperson trait we’re discussing is loyalty.
The concept of loyalty may seem foreign in sales – where there’s often an every man for himself attitude, but as a sales manager your job is to build a team. A team is not a collection of individuals – it’s a collection of individuals working toward a common goal.
Getting buy-in on this is much simpler when the team knows you have their back and are willing to go to the mat for them. Be loyal – and they’ll be loyal to you.
13 Leads by Example
Nothing frustrates people more than a double standard. If you’re espousing a “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy with your sales team, you’re not being the best sales manager you can be.
The greatest sales professionals lead by example – they do the unpleasant tasks, they roll up their sleeves and tackle the grunt work, and work as hard as the newest employees to guarantee success.
It’s vitally important to present a good example – if you don’t, how can you expect your team to follow you?
This one ties in with curiosity. If you’re not open minded, if you’ve become ridged in your thinking and worldview, then you’re doing your sales team and company a disservice.
In this day and age, where there are more potential solutions for common problems than ever, being open-minded is vital.
Maybe your CRM works well for what you want – but if you have the time, why not take the meeting to see a demo of a new or competitor’s product to see if it can improve on what you’re already achieving?
Sales managers on top of their game are always looking for a competitive edge – and that’s why it’s vital to always keep an open mind.
Sales is, by its very nature, competitive. Sales people are trying to hit various metrics and quotas, they’re trying to win in-house contests, and they’re trying to beat their fellow team members pretty much every day of the week.
Just because you’ve made it to the management level doesn’t mean you can let your competitive fire fizzle out. Part of leading by example is showing your charges how it’s done – and if you aren’t competitive, if you’re not willing to get down in the trenches and occasionally try to beat your team, that will show in your results.
Competition should be fun and good-natured, but make sure you’re still playing to win.
16 Maximizes Technology
Technology is constantly evolving – and this is particularly true in the world of sales, where it feels like there’s a new sales enablement platform released every other day.
If you’re not paying attention to technology (or even worse, not embracing it at all…), then you’re doing yourself, your team, and your company a disservice.
Did you know that current sales enablement software using AI can automatically track all of your sales team’s calls, emails, and client interactions? Did you know it can store your sales materials and make them easy to find? Did you know it can offer predictive and prescriptive analytics results to help your salespeople find the next big opportunity? If you’re not open to technology, you’re missing out on all of this – and more.
Embrace technology – it can help you ensure your sales force is doing what it does best – selling to clients.
Are you available to your team any time they have a problem? Is the door to your office always open? If not, you could be hurting your results.
Great sales managers make themselves available to their team to help head off potential problems, strategize, coach, and occasionally to just talk. But if you are managing a large team, being available for everyone all the time is unrealistic. Look into sales AI technology that can enable you to automate intelligent coaching, guidance, training, and recommendations. This will help ensure that your team is getting the support they need, while also freeing you up to work on strategy, innovation, or even unique coaching situations that need your expert eye.
You may be the sales manager, but you’re also part of the team – and being part of the team means being accessible. Try to connect with your people as often as possible.
We’ve already talked about passion – but this is another personality trait that goes hand-in-hand with it: being driven.
There can be a tendency in today’s society to view driven people as being too serious – and there’s definitely a line you can cross where the work/life balance is compromised in a negative way, but to really succeed in this position you have to have drive.
Sales is a results-oriented field and it requires a fair amount of discipline and dedication to keep finding ways to hit your targets and keep things moving in the right direction.
Without passion and drive, a lot of the other skills on this list don’t matter as much. These two are essential.
No matter how good you are at this job, there are going to be days that try your patience and where you lose more than you win.
And in these moments, there will occasionally be an urge to yell, to kick a garbage can, or to manifest your disappointment in some other physical way. Sometimes, this can even be a good thing.
At the end of the day, though, you’re likely to be better served by being even tempered. No one is comfortable working with a rage-a-holic, so keep the temper in check when possible. Take Bruce Lee’s advice – be like water…know when to drip, when to crash, and when to take the shape of your environment.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into being an effective sales manager. It’s not enough to just be good at selling stuff. You’ve also got to be good at understanding and motivating people, navigating office politics and personalities, understanding technology, and being passionate about what you do.
The good news is that many of these skills can be acquired through practice and reframing how you think and approach things.
Being a great sales manager is not an easy task, but if you possess these traits and a love for a challenge, then you might be the perfect candidate for this type of job.
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