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Top 6 Essential Sales Manager Skills in 2023

A sales manager directly influences the revenue-generating potential of a company. It is common to assume that someone with the highest sales record is most eligible for a sales manager role. However, that is far from the truth. 

A sales manager’s role has more to do with the ability to lead, mentor, and motivate a sales team to achieve or exceed an organization’s sales goals. Companies value sales managers who can successfully meet their customer acquisition and revenue growth targets while keeping the business innovative and competitive. 

With that in mind, let’s look at the top 6 skills for sales managers that determine the success of a sales department.

Top 6 Most Desired Sales Manager Skills

Before we deep-dive into the sales manager skills, it is crucial to understand the responsibilities of a sales manager:

  1. A sales manager’s foremost responsibility is to lead the sales department in fulfilling the set sales quotas. 
  2. They are expected to contribute to the growth of the business by using insights and analytics to make data-driven decisions. 
  3. A sales manager is often in charge of selecting his own team. Therefore, recruiting new salespeople by themselves or along with an HR rep is a part of their job description. 
  4. They are responsible for coaching existing and new salespeople and conducting regular performance reviews to help employees enhance their career skills
  5. Sales managers set the sales goals based on a company’s objectives and a sales team’s caliber. 
  6. They plan and execute sales strategies that have the potential to drive business growth.

A typical day in a sales manager’s professional life includes maintaining profitable relationships with their own list of clients as well as directly influencing the success of the sales department by ensuring they hit their daily quotas. A good manager creates a cooperative, peaceful atmosphere for everyone to work in and stay motivated to achieve their goals.

It requires strong communication skills, leadership skills, the ability to plan strategically and analytically, and effective people skills and relationship-building skills to interact with potential clients, customers, and team members on a regular basis. 

Let’s explore the skills that determine the success of a sales manager:

1. Ability to Forecast Sales Goals Based on Analytics 

Sales managers need to be able to analyze and review sales data and make actionable decisions based on them to set sales goals. An important part of their job is conducting in-depth research of the market and customers to identify prospects and partnerships. 

This requires strong analytical skills and an ability to draw meaningful and productive conclusions to the benefit of the organization. Such insights are helpful in forecasting and setting sales goals as per the objectives of the company. This also forms the basis of strategizing sales plans which are again to be implemented by the sales manager. 

A sales manager who is good at pipeline management can forecast the revenue their team will generate in a given period.

2. Strategic Thinking and Planning Skills to Implement Sales Plans 

Planning is an essential step in ensuring the growth of a sales department and eventually the scalability of a business. Once sales managers have assembled the necessary data and insights to formulate a plan, they must strategize the course of action that would lead to the realization of the said sales plan. This involves enforcing, tracking, and updating from the beginning till the end to warrant the successful implementation of the plan.

It also involves bringing together the entire team to work towards a common objective to improve workflow management. To do so, a sales manager must know to effectively define the sales goals and document the process for everyone to follow, and provide necessary training and support so that the entire sales team prospers consistently. 

Planning is not a one-time activity. It requires updating with changes in the market and customer requirements. So, an aspiring sales manager must work on developing their analytical and strategic thinking skills to drive business growth. Taking a specialization course in sales management can help you greatly here.

For instance, upGrad’s PG Program in Management, Specialisation in Sales and Digital Marketing is designed for sales executives, managers, and marketing professionals, aspiring or experienced, to provide them relevant industry exposure. The 11-month online program is aimed at developing leadership and management skills, and strategic marketing, sales, and distribution abilities with a focus on business growth. 

3. Ability to Coach, Mentor, and Motivate Salespeople 

As a sales manager, it is not relevant how good your sales record is if you can’t positively influence your members’ sales performance. It is imperative for sales managers to possess effective communication and interpersonal skills. 

A sales manager is as much invested in the day-to-day proceedings of an office as he is at tracking the big-picture progress of the organization’s goals. Thus, he/she must have an active role in improving the quality of salespeople’s sales process by soliciting effective coaching, guidance, and support. 

You might partner up with them so they can observe you in the act, or listen in on their conversations with prospective clients to review and provide feedback. Moreover, you can teach them standard business tactics to maximize the success of their presentations and strategies. 

It is also important to keep the team motivated towards their goals by organizing meetings, activities, and team-building exercises that push people beyond their comfort zones. This also involves encouraging transparency and communication to help them acknowledge the challenges and limitations in sales operations.

All of this contributes to greater revenue for the company. 

4. Ability to Delegate Responsibilities

The mark of a successful sales manager is how effectively he utilizes the sales department’s potential to achieve organizational goals. To be able to do this, a sales manager must know when and how to delegate responsibilities so as to enhance the productivity of the company.

A good sales manager doesn’t burden himself with responsibilities that could be delegated, nor does he micromanage his employees to an extent that hampers their natural productivity. 

If a sales manager has trained and mentored his sales department well, his only job now is to track their progress and provide assistance when necessary. 

Read: What does it take for a fresher to get a job in sales?

To be a sales manager means to lead every step of the way. It indicates creating a healthy atmosphere for everyone involved to progress and prosper. 

A good leader is expected to stay calm under stressful situations and help team members cope with the pressures of the daily grind. Sales managers should be compassionate enough to understand the challenges their employees are facing and help them solve their problems and be stern and authoritative enough to hold them accountable. 

It is a sales manager’s job to encourage amicable relationships between team members and resolve conflicts when necessary. The aim is to motivate and empower team members to excel in their respective spaces with proper guidance and support. 

Leadership skills come in quite handy when interacting with new prospects, initiating partnerships, and closing sales. It involves putting people at ease, building rapport, and putting forth an impression of reliability and trust. 

The incentive to take responsibility and stay committed to achieving goals reflects in the leadership skills of a sales manager. 

6. Ability to Communicate

All of the above-mentioned skills fall flat if a sales manager does not possess the necessary communication and interpersonal skills. They should be able to clearly convey the goals, objectives, visions, and strategies so that everyone is aware of their respective role and what they need to do.

To be able to deliver sales information accurately, delegate respective tasks and duties, identify inconsistencies and provide mentorship to improve them, provide support, motivate the sales team with powerful words, and build profitable relationships with clients and customers, a sales manager must have strong communication skills.

7. Ability to use the CRM Systems

One of the most sought-after sales manager skills is the ability to use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. A CMS system assists a company in looking after and enhancing its relationship with various prospects as well as customers. This system is one of the most used management tools that increases the sales of a company that is using it.

The main task of a CMS system is to gather various information like residential addresses, identities, previous purchases, etc of the customers. All these pieces of information are later used by the sales manager to figure out various things like new sales possibilities, the latest sales trends, etc.  This system or software also helps a sales manager in making weekly as well as monthly sales reports.

In this technological era, where modern technologies are replacing the traditional ways of working, a sales manager needs to learn more about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to promote his position.

8. Ability to Hire New Employees

The ability to hire and recruit new employees are key skills for sales manager. This procedure allows a sales manager to hire a well-qualified team that can easily elevate the sales of a company.  While hiring a sales manager must also know the required skills a candidate should possess to be eligible in the sales team.

A sales manager should also know how to interview and set questions for potential candidates who will fit into the team. The qualification for sales executive are also supervised by the sales manager while hiring them.  These skills of sales manager will stand out on his resume.

9. Sufficient Knowledge of the Products

Having sufficient knowledge about the products falls under the top 5 key skills for sales manager. Having better knowledge and information about a product will assist a sales manager or his team in smoothly pitching it to the customers. A good pitching of a product is extremely influential and allows the customers to get a complete notion of it.

Sufficient knowledge of a product can also assist a sales manager in conducting successful sales campaigns or programs with maximum product purchases. Campaigns like this not only boost the purchases of a product but also help to build good customer relationships.

10. Ability to Manage Time Perfectly

The job role of a sales manager is quite tedious and creates time management problems. Therefore, one of the most required skills needed for sales manager is managing time tactfully. This will help them to maximize their productivity along with desired outcomes.

 A sales manager who lacks the art of time management will find it difficult to lead a team and this will hamper the targeted outcomes as well. A sales manager can easily overcome problems relating to time management by setting a strict project deadline for himself as well as for his entire team.

11. Ability to Comprehend as well as Collaborate with the Marketing Team

Sales and Marketing are two interconnected areas that are heavily dependent on each other. Therefore, understanding the marketing field is one of the many skills required for sales manager. Knowledge about marketing and its team helps a sales manager to easily collaborate with them on various new projects.

The marketing team and the sales team together can boost a newly launched product of a company as a result of seamless collaboration. Hence, companies are in dire need of a sales manager who has marketing knowledge and can easily work together in any new project.

Various Technical Skills of Sales Managers

Besides the essential skills, a sales manager must also possess some technical skills. These technical skills required for sales manager have been elucidated below:

Conflicts Solving Skills

One of the most required skills of sales manager is conflict resolution. This is considered a technical skill that is needed apart from the above-mentioned essential skills. During any sales procedure, there may be various kinds of conflicts like product disputes, delivery issues, and customer care problems which are to be sorted out by a sales manager.

These types of technical issues need to be tactfully handled by an experienced sales manager so that the company can continue working without any hindrance.

Ability to find out Customers’ requirements

Figuring out customer’s needs is one of those sales manager skills for resume. A sales manager must know how to study the market trends and the behavior of the customers to figure out their requirements. This procedure helps a company to grow in size and build a good relationship as well as trust with its consumers.

Sales Metrics

There are 6 sales metrics that a sales manager should follow daily to become more skilled and lead the sales team toward the path of betterment. These metrics help a sales manager to supervise the performance of the entire team and provide feedback simultaneously. These metrics that a sales manager must know are:

Sales Prediction

The first sales metric is sales prediction. A sales manager must learn to make sales forecasts so that he can easily predict future sales. A manager can make strategies, activities,  as well as budgets relying upon this prediction

Lead Response Time

The lead response time must be short and quick. This time must be ensured and supervised by a sales manager. An efficient manager can easily provide quick responses.

High-quality Sources

A sales manager needs to ensure that his team works with high-quality sources. This is usually figured out by studying the market trends and analyzing customer needs with various data.

Sales Team Productivity 

A sales manager also needs to make sure that his team’s productivity has increased over time. This can be easily tracked by calculating performance evaluation, income revenues, and expenditures. Besides these, the productivity of a team by be measured by tracking activity levels, conversion rates, and sales rates.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates determine the number of leads that have been transformed into customers. This is a primary duty of a sales manager and therefore he needs to closely follow the conversion rates.

Rates of Upsell and Cross-sell

An efficient sales manager should know how to smoothly upsell as well as cross-sell. Upselling is a process where a customer is advised to upgrade a product to its expensive version. While cross-selling encourages a customer to add more products to their initial purchase. These methods increase the sales rate and revenue of a company.

Salary of a Sales Manager

In 2024, the average salary of a sales manager is around USD 70073 per annum. However, the salary may vary due to several factors like company, years of experience, location, nature of work, etc.

Conclusion

A sales manager’s job comes with a wide range of responsibilities, all of which involve uniting the entire department under them to work productively towards fulfilling company goals.

It has also been predicted that there will be a growth of 4% in the employment of sales managers till 2032. This hike will open a lot of opportunities and job vacancies in various companies. These companies will also provide high remuneration due to this growth.

Conclusion

A sales manager’s job comes with a wide range of responsibilities, all of which involve uniting the entire department under them to work productively towards fulfilling company goals. 

If you are just starting out a career in sales, there is a lot you will need to learn to bolster your management skills along the way. Luckily, there are online programs that have made this easier than ever. upGrad’s PG Program in Management, Specialisation in Sales and Digital Marketing is not just confined to imparting in-demand sales skills and hands-on training. It also prepares aspiring young professionals for career advancement opportunities.

What is the hardest skill to learn for a sales manager?

One of the hardest skills for a sales manager is learning about product details. Very few of the sales managers whose resumes have this skill. This is because of the rapid production of new products. To be an efficient sales manager you need to know your products quite well.

What are the other soft skills that a sales manager should possess?

Besides the crucial soft skills or essential skills, there are certain other skills that a sales manager should know. Emotional intelligence, writing communication, listening, mental flexibility, etc are a few examples of some other soft skills.

Are there any rules that a sales manager must abide by?

There are certain rules that a company wants its sales manager to follow. These rules are: Be transparent, Be consistent , Be relevant , Set goals, Be open to new ideas and opinions

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