If the sales team is the engine of any good business, then the sales manager is basically the mechanic who keeps that engine running at full speed.
To keep your sales team purring like a Porsche, you’ll need to master a lot of different skills – from project management to hiring to motivational speaker to personal psychologist and beyond. It’s a lot of hats for one person to wear, but to truly be successful as a sales manager means you’ll be juggling a lot of different responsibilities – which is why there’s never a dull moment in this job.
One of the things you’ll be doing regularly as a successful sales manager is evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your team – but the evaluation shouldn’t stop there. The truly successful sales manager will also take the time to evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses on a never-ending quest to become better at their job and reach higher goals.
So, what are the strengths all sales managers should aspire to have? What are the weaknesses they should diligently work to fix? We’re glad you asked.
Read on for some sales strengths and weakness examples to make sure you’re being the best sales manager you can be!
As mentioned above, an effective sales manager has to wear a lot of different hats. Just being good at sales or hiring or motivating employees isn’t enough.
While there are definitely foundational skills that all sales managers should possess – like, you know, being good at selling things – this is really just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
No two sales teams are built identically, but if you’re in a management position and have these skills and strengths, you definitely have a solid foundation to build upon.
One of the key strengths that all great sales managers have and few people talk about is perspective.
With the amount of data and information at our fingertips and the ever faster-paced business world we find ourselves in, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making quick (and occasionally rash…) decisions.
The best sales managers avoid this by taking time and utilizing perspective. Did a member of your team just fail to close a sale? Help them focus on the bigger picture. Are numbers off for the month? Take a minute to figure out why – it could be that your teams is doing everything they can to succeed but there’s something happening beyond your control.
Perspective is a lot easier to have when you have visibility. Make sure you’re armed with the proper tools to provide total visibility into buyer/seller interactions. Without that insight, understanding each opportunity’s challenges and keeping perspective about what’s going on can feel impossible.
Perspective is a lot like vision – sometimes you have to step back and look at the bigger picture. If you’re not doing this, you’re likely missing the forest for the trees –and not making the best decisions possible.
Running a sales team can sometimes feel like herding cats while juggling plates. Sales managers are often caught in two worlds – the world of sales their team lives in, and the upper management level where the big directives come from.
Because of this, organizational skill is a key strength all sales managers should strive to cultivate. A disorganized sales manager will drown in projects sooner or later, missing key things because they’re overwhelmed by the demands on their time.
Figuring out how to manage all the different responsibilities, numbers, and objectives through organization is a definite strength you should work to acquire if you don’t already have it.
The good news? There are about a million organizational tools available. To get started, look at sales management AI solutions that will help you visualize your data at a granular level, as well as automate at-scale for your team the necessary meticulous administrative tasks (like CRM data entry, or ongoing sales trainings and process reinforcement).
It’s hard to imagine anyone making it to the level of sales manager without being competitive, but it’s still worth talking about.
Since most sales mangers start their careers as part of the rank and file sales team, anyone who doesn’t have a competitive streak tends to get weeded out pretty quickly.
That being said, some sales managers feel like they don’t need to keep honing their competitive edge once they get to the corner office and the sweet salary gig. This couldn’t be further from the truth, though. That competitive fire that helped you win monthly contests and hit quotas month after month (after month…) will still serve you well as a member of management.
Lead by example – let your team see that competitive streak and inspire them to succeed.
Sales isn’t a career for the faint of heart or those looking to coast into the weekend. It’s also not a career for people who aren’t motivated to succeed. This remains true even in the transition to management.
As a sales manager, you’ll need to stay motivated. You’re not just concerned about your quotas and your numbers anymore – you’re concerned about the entire team. That’s a lot of extra pressure; a motivated sales manager relishes the opportunity to overcome problems and shine.
Of course, it’s not enough for just you to be motivated. A great sales manager has to be a motivator too. There are going to be days where your team needs that little push, a boost of encouragement, or a simple pat on the back. Being inspiring and motivating is vitally important to your team’s success. Not every meeting and encounter has to be a pep rally, but it’s good to be a cheerleader sometimes.
It takes a special breed of person to be successful in sales, and one of the key elements anyone who makes a living this way possesses is confidence.
Reaching the level of sales manager may change your focus and perspective, but that confidence that helped you close deals as a salesperson will be every bit as valuable to you as climb the corporate ladder.
Your sales team is good at reading people – figuring out and overcoming objections before they actually happen, spotting weaknesses, and so on. You can be certain they’ll immediately notice if you’re not 100% confident in your ability to lead them to their goals.
So, find that inner confidence and be sure to project it when working with your team. Even when things aren’t going well, confidence can be contagious and can help you and your people break out of even the worst of slumps.
This one might seem obvious as well, but you’d be surprised to learn that a lot of people who make it to the management level aren’t particularly great leaders. If you take a minute and think about it, we bet you can think of at least one person who was your boss who really wasn’t cut out to lead.
We could write an entire book on the skills and traits good leaders possess, but for the purpose of this article, it’s enough to just be aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. If you feel there are areas where you’re coming up short, address them.
A good sales manager leads by example. Show them you’re still willing to put in the extra work, to go the extra mile to close a deal, to roll up your sleeves and get things done. Your people will respond in kind to the example you set.
This is another one that seems obvious, but is still well worth mentioning.
Persistence is one of the most valuable skills a salesperson can have – and it’s no less valuable when you move up to the position of sales manager.
Part of being a sales person is dealing with rejection. Even the best sales professionals hear the words “no thanks” a lot. If you’re not persistent and able to soldier on in the face of adversity, your career in sales will be a short one.
This holds true for sales managers as well. There will be times where things don’t go your way. Numbers will come up short, you may have an employee with potential that you can’t quite reach, and so on. These types of things will require you to be persistent, to keep pushing forward and to never give up. A sales manager who throws in the towel, particularly when faced with adversity, isn’t going to inspire the team or find ways to achieve quotas and hit other metrics.
The good news is, persistence is a skill that can be learned and cultivated. So, if you’re ready to throw in the towel – don’t. Your next big success could be right around the corner.
At any rate, there are dozens of skills all successful sales managers have. These are some of the most important ones, but please — don’t take this list as all-inclusive.
However, if you have all of these skills, you’re off to a very good start.
On the flip side of the coin, there are a number of potential weaknesses that can completely derail a sales manager’s career.
Fortunately, there are fewer of these than the strengths – and spotting these potential issues is pretty simple. That being said, if you find yourself with any of these traits, you’ll need to address them as soon as possible.
Sometimes, conflict is inevitable – and when used constructively, it can actually motivate your team, help solve issues with other management team members, and keep people on task.
A sales manager who’s afraid of conflict is likely to wind up getting managed instead of doing the managing.
Conflict doesn’t have to be ugly – there doesn’t have to be yelling or threats or any of that unpleasantness (in fact, if your idea of conflict revolves around any of those concepts, you should spend time rethinking what conflict means). It’s simply creating and resolving tension between two opposing forces. Conflict, when handled properly, can actually make things better.
If you go out of your way to avoid this – you’re not going to be effective as a sales manager.
It’s hard to imagine anyone who has a fear of rejection lasting in sales long enough to reach the level of sales manager, but it’s happened.
One of the first things any good sales mentor will tell you when you break into the business is that rejection is inevitable. You simply must pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move to the next client.
And yet many high achievers are motivated by a fear of failure and rejection. It can be a powerful thing – but for someone working in sales (or the creative arts fields), a fear of rejection can be deadly.
Why? Because it forces you into making decisions based on your sense of safety as opposed to what’s best for you, your team, or your company. Fortune favors the bold, and the bold understand that you’ll be rejected and fail from time to time. Sales isn’t for weak-willed.
If you’ve got a fear of rejection, get over it by putting yourself in situations where you might fail or be rejected. You’ll quickly learn that a lot of fear is misplaced and that even when you are rejected, it’s not the end of the world.
We’ve already mentioned just how many different hats a sales manager has to wear each and every day, and how important organizational skills are. So, if you’re the kind of person who’s easily overwhelmed, this might not be the career path for you.
A sales manager is often caught in the middle between the sales team and upper management. The demands of each group can be many – and often almost completely opposite. Then factor in your own job duties and, well, there’s a lot going on. It can be a high stress job, and all of these disparate things can weigh heavy.
It’s easy to look at everything you need to do on a daily basis and be completely overwhelmed, wondering how you’ll ever get it all done.
If you give in to those feelings? You’ll never last in the position.
Work on those organizational skills. Schedule, plan, prepare…and know that there are things that will come out of the blue and knock your plans out of whack. Find the right tools to keep you organized, automatically capture your team’s activities, easily digest the complex information, keep perspective, and better support your team.
Being a person who’s easily overwhelmed doesn’t mean you can’t become a sales manager – it simply means you’re going to have to find ways to overcome those feelings of drowning in your duties and create order from the chaos.
Being a sales manager can feel like reaching the mountaintop for someone who started working in sales. It’s a great job – it pays well, it has a diverse range of duties, two days are rarely the same, and there’s never a dull moment.
It takes a special breed of person to become a sales manager, but all of the best have a multitude of skills and strengths in common. Cultivate these skills – and find ways to eliminate these weaknesses – and you can be a success in this highly competitive field.
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