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11 Sales Management Skills Needed for Success

Sales management

August 14, 2023Blog

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Building a Foundation of Key Sales Manager Skills

In the fast-paced and competitive world of sales, agile sales management skills are crucial for driving team success. Every sales manager plays a pivotal role in guiding and empowering their sales team, but few find continuous success with their current management skills.

To build a true foundation for success, sales managers need to evolve from their traditional role. Instead of being the expert who directs and tells, sales managers need to adopt a coaching role. As a coach, a sales manager becomes someone who inspires their sales team with increased self-motivation to learn, change, and improve results.

So, what makes a good sales manager great? We’ve outlined the essential sales management skills and capabilities that drive proven success in sales teams. From driving salesperson accountability to conducting vital conversations and motivating sales professionals, these skills form the foundation for a high-performing sales team. Learn how each of these skills equips you with the tools and knowledge to become an exceptional sales manager.

11 Key Sales Management Skills and Capabilities

Drive Salesperson Accountability

A seller cannot be accountable if they do not have a well-defined understanding of what is expected of them. To give the seller clarity, the sales manager must do three things. First, they must develop clear goals for the sales team. Second, they need to revise their accountability system. Lastly, they must individualise goals for each seller. 

Leading Sales Team Meetings

The most effective sales team meetings focus on structure as much as message. Over time, sales meetings can devolve into a formality performed out of habit. Effective sales managers prevent this drift by using a structured approach. This approach focuses on three key topics: simplicity, recognition, and capability building.

Strengthening the Sales Culture

Too often culture is a vague set of norms that emerge from circumstances rather than from an intentional design. Strengthening the sales culture means defining the culture, developing a plan, and driving performance.

Coaching Sales Professionals

Modern coaching seeks to develop, not direct. This means being prepared to pivot into coach mode when the moment presents itself. As a coach, the manager engages sellers in a way that aligns them to a new approach and seeks feedback from sellers before providing it. 

Conducting Vital Conversations

Sometimes a sales manager needs a new approach after making multiple attempts to address an issue with a seller. Sales managers need to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Is a conversation necessary?
  • Is the issue supported by facts and data?
  • Is there a clear talk track?
  • Is there confirmation of the plan?
  • Is any pre-work needed?

After gathering the answers to these questions, the manager can reformat their approach in a more strategic way.

Leading World Class One-on-Ones

A world class one-on-one not only advances the seller’s skills, but it advances their relationship with the manager. Doing so means focusing on the big picture, what’s working, what’s not working, what has been achieved, where help is needed, and what action plan is needed.

Managing Different People Differently  

Driving the individual’s performance is about understanding what drives them. Managers need to understand if the seller is an introvert or extrovert, their level of motivation, their ethnicity, experience, and skill level. With a deeper understanding of the seller, the manager can individualise the coaching routine, then validate the coaching management approach.

Motivating Sales Professionals

A sales manager cannot motivate someone until they truly understand them. Reaching this point means understanding which of three key needs motivate the seller. Some are motivated by the need for power (reputation and self-esteem), some are motivated by the need for achievement, and others are motivated by the need for affiliation (strong interpersonal relationships).

Coaching in the Field

Field coaching is fundamentally different than one-on-one coaching because it is specific to a moment. It often occurs while a pursuit is in play and is focused on specific details of a particular deal. This contrasts with one-on-one coaching, which examines annual or quarterly trends. Field coaching begins with preparation before moving to coaching and then feedback.

Pipeline Management

Pipeline management brings early visibility to challenges that might otherwise prevent the sale.

During this process, team members and sales managers track and analyse opportunities as they enter and move through the sales process. Making pipeline management work means first helping the seller to see that it is more than just a management practice. The manager has to show the benefits it has for the sales professional as well.

Opportunity Review

Even the best selling skills are of little value unless they are focused on the right pursuits.

Opportunity reviews ensure better qualification, more accurate forecasting, better resource utilisation, and more closed sales. Effective sellers emphasise outcomes over activities, make data-driven decisions, and are selective about what opportunities to review.

Ready to take your sales management skills to the next level? Download Richardson’s Sales Management Curriculum brochure and contact us today.

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female sales leader engaging a sales rep in a productive performance improvement conversation using the skills she has built by participating in training programs from Richardson's sales management curriculum

Brochure: Sales Management Curriculum

View our full listing of sales management training programs and modules.


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