9 Key Aspects of the Sales Manager’s Role

By Butch Bellah

As the sales manager for your organization, it’s your responsibility to lead and manage the sales team. If you’re like many first time sales managers, that one statement leaves you glassy-eyed with a bead of sweat forming on your forehead.

Relax. That broad definition can be overwhelming and being overwhelmed kills the very traits you’ve exemplified in your career: creativity, a positive attitude, a desire for growth and leadership.

More than likely, your roles as sales manager includes:

  • Manage the sales team.

    This simply means that you’re responsible for your people. You are now the manager and anything (positive or negative) affecting the sales of the company begins and ends with you. You’re the face of the only department in the company contributing to revenue.

  • Establish goals and quotas.

    In a perfect world, each salesperson sets goals and quotas that allow her to stretch and reach new heights every year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. It’s up to you to set the goals, objectives, and quotas for individual salespeople and for the team as a whole.

  • Train and develop sales skills.

    This is where your past success as a salesperson comes into play. You must help each member of the sales department improve her skills. Everyone can get better at some part of the sales process — your job is to identify weaknesses and help convert them to strengths. And contrary to what they tell you in the initial interview, they all have weaknesses.

  • Assign and define geographical territories.

    After you’re in management and can see more of the big picture, some things jump out at you as obvious. Why are two people spending time in the same market on different days? One of the greatest wastes of time for salespeople is windshield time: those countless wasted hours between appointments where instead of seeing a prospect, you’re staring at the road.

  • Counsel and lead individual salespeople.

    In order to get the entire team pulling in the same direction, you must work on the individuals first. Because you’re their sales manager, your team needs you to take the lead and create an environment where they can succeed.

    Don’t wait for people to ask for help (some never will). Understand that you most likely manage each person differently, so in order to find out what makes each person tick you must get to know each and every member of your team.

  • Report data to upper management.

    Good news, bad news, any news — it all comes from you. This is one particular area you should never accept the answer, “That’s the way we’ve always done it!” That has killed more organizations than anything. It’s up to you to find ways to use data to drive sales and provide yourself and others in management with good, actionable information. The things you wished you’d known as a salesperson are now the things you must know as a sales manager.

  • Create incentive programs.

    Whether you’re using in-house programs or working with manufacturers and vendors, it’s important to keep your salespeople engaged; keep them interested and striving to grow. Build and maintain a special incentive calendar and make the job fun!

    Additionally, a good sales manager will create team or departmental based incentives to reward the achievement of overall goals. This is just another way to create an atmosphere of working together and not against each other.

  • Establish budgets.

    Working out the budget is the second worst part of the job. The skills you used to become successful probably aren’t related to sitting and going over spreadsheet after spreadsheet of numbers and projections. However, you now have the responsibility to create the budget for the sales department. It’s not necessarily fun, but it has to be done.

  • Hire and fire salespeople.

    If budgets are the second worst part of the job, this is the worst (especially the firing part). But the buck stops with you. It’s your responsibility to continually upgrade the team in the field. To do so, sometimes you have to fire the bad ones and hire some more good ones.