Sales Managers: What They Do and How To Do It Better

A stack of money with a graph line going up, representing sales managers

Whether you’re thinking of becoming a sales manager, looking to hire a sales manager for your organization, or regularly work with sales managers, you’re probably wondering exactly what a sales manager does every day. 

Continue reading to learn what a sales manager’s roles and responsibilities are, the main skills needed to be a successful sales manager, and how these skills are developed. 

Let’s start with the basics. 

What is a sales manager? 

Businesses need sales to grow. And while a CEO could try to juggle running the company and the sales team, they’d quickly find that this isn’t scalable.

Enter the sales manager. A sales manager’s job is to lead, coach, and grow a team of salespeople within a business. While they’re typically strong salespeople, they are rarely dealing with customers directly or actually making the sales. Instead, they’re responsible for ensuring their team is well-equipped to achieve sales quotas and to provide support and coaching as needed.

Some key responsibilities of a sales manager include: 

  • Hiring and firing of sales staff
  • Onboarding and training for team members 
  • Communicating sales quotas and goals to their team
  • Ensuring salespeople meet sales quotas
  • Working to address customer complaints regarding sales staff
  • Managing budgets, costs, and expenses 
  • Analyzing sales data and adjusting team output as necessary
  • Collaborating with department heads and team leads across the organization

Now that you know what a sales manager does, we’ll take a look at some of the skills they need to succeed. 

Essential sales manager skills 

The success of an organization’s sales team depends on the skills, knowledge, and experience of the sales manager. Here, we’ll break down some of the skills every successful sales manager needs, and provide tips for building them. 

Great sales managers collaborate

No team can succeed in a silo and a sales team is no exception. A 2019 study by the Miller Heiman Group interviewed members from over 900 sales organizations and found that 73% of sales teams said collaborating across departments is absolutely critical to their success.

Sales managers need to know not only how to collaborate and work cooperatively with the sales representatives they manage, but with the organization as a whole. 

To improve collaboration across departments, take some time to think about the tools your teams are using. If the marketing team is using Trello, the creative team is using Asana, and the sales team is using Hubspot, working together can be difficult. A tool like Unito can help bring all these tools together so that different teams can work together seamlessly. That way, no one has to constantly switch tools or learn how to use a brand new tool. 

Another way to boost collaboration skills? Communication. 

Communication is crucial

In fast-paced, competitive fields like sales require exceptional communication skills. Communicating sales goals and quotas to a team while keeping communication lines with executive leadership open requires a level of expertise that doesn’t come naturally to most. 

While it might seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to level up your communication skills is through working on your listening abilities. Ensure you are never disrupting someone speaking to you, pay attention to non-verbal cues such as body language, ask the right questions to ensure you’re understanding the other person correctly, and set aside dedicated conversation time for more in-depth discussions as necessary. 

For more tips and guidance on improving your communication skills, check out our blog post on the topic here.  

People skills are essential

In addition to all of the foundational people skills all managers need, sales managers have the extra pressure of ensuring their team members meet ambitious sales goals.

Sales managers are directly responsible for the growth of their teams. In sales, that can mean extreme employee turnover, challenges achieving employee satisfaction, and a greater need to identify and reward top performers.

When it comes to the HR portion of a sales manager’s job, recruiting and hiring are key. A sales team is only as good as its members, so finding and attracting top talent shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether you’re looking to rise to the position of sales manager — or you’re trying to become a better one — develop awareness for who on your team is a top performer and who needs improvement. Try to identify common signs of performance and think of ways you can help your colleagues improve. That kind of initiative has management material written all over it.

Sales managers need to lead

The difference between a high-performing sales team and one that isn’t meeting its goals can often be traced back to their sales manager’s leadership abilities. If you don’t dedicate time and effort to helping your team succeed, chances are your team isn’t hitting its quotas.

Some essential components of good leadership include building trust, motivating your team, and taking responsibility. 

When it comes to building trust, one of the main things you want to avoid is micromanagement. When you micromanage your employees, you show them that you don’t trust them to make the sale or connect with their potential clients themselves. Instead, if you feel that one of your salespeople is struggling, work with them to find the source of the issue and solve it together. 

As a sales manager, you’re also responsible for keeping your team motivated and focused on their goals. In addition to public displays of appreciation — such as a team or company-wide shoutout for a job well done — take the time to coach your team members individually. This shows them that you’re deeply invested in their success. This vote of confidence, as well as personalized support, will help all members of your sales team feel empowered and ready to succeed. 

As for responsibility? Take it on when you can, and even at times when you feel like you can’t. Your team will respect you for it.

Close those deals, sales managers

Sales managers are the leaders that keep sales teams driving towards some of the most ambitious goals in the company. They’re responsible for typical managerial duties, hitting quotas, and spearheading collaboration. Being a strong leader in this field requires an ability to work collaboratively, solid communication, people skills, and of course great leadership ability. If you’re looking to become a sales manager, work on building up those skills. If you’re already a manager, maybe you’ve identified an area of weakness that you can work on.

What’s next?

1. Looking to learn more about productivity and workflow management? Here’s our blog!
2. Curious about how businesses like yours use Unito? Check out our case studies.
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