By Nsim team
Like many careers, there are many different paths you can take if you want to become a sales manager. The best path however, is to have an education in business, combined with a few years worth of progressive experience in sales.
This work would involve assessing market potential, developing and implementing sales plans, establishing and assigning sales territories and ensuring key accounts are satisfied.
This field also offers diverse opportunities for advancement, great pay, the opportunity to make a lot of professional contacts, and the opportunity to use your strategic, management and analytical abilities.
As a sales manager, you would be responsible for directing the distribution of a product or service to the consumer. You would accomplish this by establishing sales territories, quotas and goals, and by training and overseeing the sales representatives for those territories.
Your job would also involve analyzing sales statistics gathered by staff in order to determine further sales potential and associated inventory requirements, and to monitor the preferences of customers.
As a sales manager you would organise, coach and lead a team of sales representatives to work towards agreed sales targets. If you are good at selling and want to manage a team, this could be the career for you.
In this job you’ll be using your management skills and enthusiasm to motivate others. You’ll also need to be organised and good at planning. You will need sales experience and management skills to get into this job. Your skills and experience are likely to be more important to most employers than your qualifications.
Many employers favour sales manager applicants with a diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, sales, advertising or other similar fields. If you’re planing to work in a technically specialized industry, such as IT or pharmaceutical sales, you may be expected to have a degree in a relevant field.
Here are Top 10 Skills that are a Must-Have for every Sales Manager
1. Analytical Ability
Sales managers receive all kinds of information -- from verifiable facts to rumors. It is important to be able to see the relevance of these bits of information, to draw conclusions that fit the facts, and to analyze a problem to understand root causes. Having analyzed the available information in a given situation, they must then judicially weigh the evidence in order to decide on the best course of action. Most decisions involve a balance of advantages and disadvantages, and so they should be comfortable with tradeoffs.
2. Understanding the buyer
The Sales Manager needs to have “Social Perceptiveness” - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do. The most important of today’s sales skills is simply understanding the buyer. It’s the foundation of effective selling. But it involves more than just understanding who the buyer is. As they say, “This isn’t just about knowing what brand of coffee the buyer drinks”. Instead, it’s about identifying the experience that the buyer wants to have as they consider making a purchase in your market. Your buyer has a set of expectations about that experience and your job as a salesperson is to exceed those expectations. You can’t exceed them if you don’t understand the experience that the buyer wants to have.
3. Active Listening & Responsiveness
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. Though it goes without saying and that the best salespeople take action based on what they hear from their customer - “It’s not good enough to just listen”. You need to internalize what the buyer just said and then do something about it. This is called Customer-driven responsiveness.
4. Concise communications
Given how busy the average buyer is today, a critical sales skill is to make sure that you communicate succinctly. The days of the silver-tongued, overly verbose salesperson are coming to an end. Buyers value how information is presented more than the information itself. Today, the preferred form of presentation is conciseness. A good rule here is to never try to communicate more than three important points in a single conversation with a buyer.
5. Service Orientation
Sales managers be Actively looking for ways to help out their clients in whatever manner possible. Buyers don’t want to be closed; they want to be helped. That’s why “Always Be Helping (ABH)” is the new “always be closing”. ABH is more of a mindset than a skill. A lot of salespeople struggle with this, but you should try to remember it every time you interact with a buyer.
6. Planning and Organizing
With the amount of data that comes to a Sales Manager on a daily basis, be it from the Reports from the Team, or the latest memorandum from the management, A strong sales manager needs to keep all information on his table planned, organized, and ready to be dished out at a moment’s notice. This eventually helps the manager to analyse the data properly, conduct implementations in the right way, and prepare objectives and plans in detail. They're also then able to anticipate problems and outline how they will be overcome.
7. Business Acumen
Business acumen is defined as the critical business thinking required to achieve your sales objectives. The business environment demands that both sales reps and managers have strong business skills. Sales managers need to be able to understand complex business issues and help their sales reps view their business strategically. Sales managers need to teach their sales people how to make wiser decisions, plan better, and effectively allocate their resources based on customer needs and potential for growth.
8. Coaching & Mentoring
Coaching is the number one sales management activity that drives sales performance. The goal of coaching is to help each sales rep to improve their performance and reach their true potential. It’s about developing your “A” sales people to become “A+” and developing your “B” salespeople to become “A”s.
If performance issues go unchecked, sales and team moral can be negatively affected. Many sales managers shy away from confronting sales people who are not performing. It is up to the sales manager to have planned and unplanned checkpoints to address performance issues and develop a plan of action to correct the problem. The sales manager must continually raise the bar on performance. A sales manager with great coaching skills will not only see improved sales performance, but will have better sales rep engagement, reduced turnover and improved job satisfaction.
9. Using Technology to Boost Productivity
Many sales organizations are using technology to become more efficient and shorten the length of the average sales cycle. Salespeople are actually busier than ever as evidenced by a recent CSO Insights report that shows that salespeople only spend 37% of their time actually selling. The rest of their time apparently is taken over by creating reports, sending emails, making proposals, attending internal meetings,and whatnot. The salesperson that can use technology, and is able to quickly grasp various CRM softwares, and the like, is sure to become more productive, and have a significant advantage over their peers – Because they are then able to spend more time selling. Some other skills that go hand-in-hand with IT skills are: Good Budgeting, Report Writing Skills, and PPT Skills.
Sales managers need to be strong leaders. The key to becoming a strong sales leaders is for you to be able to create and share a vision with your sales team. Strong sales leaders, have the skill and the will to help their team adopt the vision and keep them focused on working towards achieving it. Sales leaders require the ability to communicate, innovate, inspire and set the tone for the sales team.
As a sales manager, you could be employed by almost any type of private and public organizations that sells a product or service, such as:
• Service sector businesses
• Non-profit agencies (for example: charities)
• Not-for-profit agencies (for example: sports leagues and trade organizations)
• Market research organizations
• Sales, marketing and management consultancies