Without a successful sales team, an organization can’t thrive. The sales team turns leads into customers, guiding prospects through their concerns until they arrive at the sale. But while an effective sales team is crucial to your bottom line, a sales team can’t function correctly without hiring a sales manager to lead it.
That leads to another question: how do you identify and hire the best sales manager for your organization? What qualities should you be looking for, and how do you persuade the individuals with those qualities to lend their talents to your company?
In this post, we’ll identify what a sales manager role entails, the importance of finding the right person to be your sales manager, how to tell if someone will be the type of sales manager you need, and what qualities you’ll want in that individual. Finally, we’ll look at how you can best support the right manager, setting them up for success.
Before hiring a sales manager, know what a sales manager does
What job functions does a sales manager perform? What are some of the essential functions of the role? The answer to these questions will vary depending on the size and scope of the sales team, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics spells out some typical responsibilities for sales managers:
- Communicate with customers to ensure optimal customer satisfaction
- Plan the team budget
- Direct sales teamwork based on customer feedback
- Review and analyze sales data
- Do projects for quarterly and annual sales
- Identify opportunities for discounted pricing plans
- Determine methods for capturing new business or customers using sales best practices
- Direct your team members to specific territories/regions with appropriate sales quota attached to each individual
- Direct staff sales training for both onboarding employees and those who need a refresher course
Of course, having someone with these skills is just the beginning of your quest for the best. When hiring a sales manager, you’ll want someone who isn’t just qualified to do the job but is capable of excelling in the role.
The key to hiring the right sales manager
So how do you embark on hiring a sales manager who can do all these things well, motivate your team, and help them – and your business – grow? To do that, you’ll have to look within. When it comes to being a great workplace, does your organization offer the environment that attracts the best candidates?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales manager positions are expected to increase by 7% by 2030. That makes it a very advantageous job market for top-performing sales managers. You must make your organization the best place to work with solid processes and systems to bolster your sales team’s efforts. After all, the best sales managers will only want to work for the best companies that set them up to succeed.
You’ll have to be sure you have the infrastructure to support their success. Are you equipping your sales managers with the proper tools, software, and data they’ll need to be successful?
While it’s true that hiring the right sales manager can help lift an organization in terms of performance, great sales managers don’t perform in a vacuum. Even if you’ve brought on the best sales manager on the market, they’ll still need your support from a business perspective.
The qualities you’ll want in a sales manager
LinkedIn says, “Sales managers hire and motivate high-performing sales teams, and help them find leads, hit or exceed revenue forecasts, and meet customer needs.” Top performers in this role clearly understand the products and services their company provides. They also have a propensity for closing deals and understanding what it takes to lead a prospect from interest to action.
Beyond just knowing the basic mechanics of sales, however, effective sales managers possess the qualities that make them great leaders and mentors. A sales manager should have the ability to teach their team of salespeople how to answer customer concerns and close deals. The goal of a sales manager is to lead a team that increases their customers and profits.
How to tell if a candidate is a good fit for your company
Hiring a sales manager with the right skills and experience is always a good first step to determining whether someone will fit. Choosing someone with a background in your specific industry can also be a significant plus. Above all else, however, you need to answer one primary question when screening a candidate for your sales manager role.
Is your sales manager an effective manager of people that can help their salespeople convert prospects to sales?
In a Harvard Business Review piece titled “Sales Managers Must Manage,” actual management ability is crucial for sales managers to be effective. It sounds obvious, but it is not – your sales manager must be more than a successful salesperson who continues to succeed until they are promoted to a leadership position. They must possess a manager’s skill set as a leader and teacher.
The piece identified a sales manager who spoke of their team’s success but was continually interrupted by his sales reps with questions. Rather than empower them to devise solutions independently, he encouraged them to filter all issues through him for resolution. This highlighted two inefficiencies in his management style:
- He did not want to delegate, routing all decisions back to him
- He didn’t have the resources needed to help train those sales team members effectively
It comes back to giving your team the tools they need to succeed. Can you ensure that the systems they use – the IT software, particularly – provide them with the capabilities to be coached effectively? Can your sales manager strike that balance as someone who has oversight but who doesn’t need to hold hands as their team members become aligned with your sales program?
How to find the right sales manager
Keeping everything noted above in mind, you’ll want to find your sales manager through a tailored recruiting process. This can include sourcing candidates from internet job boards or look for internal candidates. Whether internal or external, these candidates must either have a sales background or the leadership qualities needed to learn and thrive in the role.
You know the specific needs of your industry. You also know what skills a sales manager needs. You can create a list of these skills and separate them into two parts. One list will be required skills, while the other will be skills that are a bonus but not 100% necessary. When identifying candidates, look for the ones that check more boxes you’ve established than the others.
For a sales manager, you’ll want to zero in on the skills and experiences outlined above. You’ll also want to gauge how much leadership experience they have. Have they been in a management role before? Have they succeeded, and if so, do they have quantifiable metrics to back up their previous wins? Did that success come within your industry, or will they need to adapt their skill set to a new sector?
These aren’t easy questions to answer, and you may not find a candidate that answers all of them successfully for you. But you’re not looking for the perfect sales manager – you’re looking for someone with the right sales and leadership skills who can captain your sales team’s ship.
But once you hire a sales manager, how do you put them in the driver’s seat to improve their skill set in a way that translates to better results (i.e., more sales)?
How to help your sales manager enable success for your sales team
Your sales manager is only as strong as your team, and your team is only as strong as your tools. That’s why you’ll want to provide them with a software system that helps them learn and improve. This leads to more closed deals and higher profits for your company.
The tool you’ll want to use is Quantified. It’s a cloud-based coaching platform powered by AI that helps optimize sales team performance. It also enables your sales manager to focus less time on training, and more time on the finer points of management they’ll need to master for your team to be effective.
With Quantified, your sales manager can outsource your team’s coaching needs while monitoring performance levels – performance levels that will rise once your team has the required knowledge and skills.
For more on how Quantified can help your sales manager build strong, better-informed sales teams in a way that leads to more sales, contact us today.