5 Ways To Spot Your Next Great Sales Manager
Updated: Sep 5
My Sales Management article published in the December 2021 Issue of Radio Ink magazine.
Where to Begin?
It all started with one question. "What does it take to become a local sales manager?" I was standing in the doorway of my General Sales Manager's office with two years of successful selling under my belt. The reply to my question was succinct and full of direction, "Act like one." From that response, I understood that titles were not the key to being a manager; it was an unordained kind of leadership that would earn me a different role from my peers. They should gravitate to me for help, encouragement, and direction. "Be one before you are one" was my new mantra that day forward.
We all agree it is critical in this unique environment to take the time and understand what you need in a sales manager. After 35 years of management experience, here are my five attributes to consider in spotting your next great sales manager. You may have different evaluation goals for your list based on internal vs. external candidates.
1. Work Ethic
A great sales manager should be a compass who can direct a team by setting an example and defining qualities that will drive success. Nothing in sales comes without hard work and dedicated effort, and a manager who is a good role model for both will earn respect from their team. It takes work for the new hire to learn the product, understand the building blocks of success and develop revenues. The work can be harder for the seasoned seller who needs to adapt to keep a leading role in performance. A great manager is not afraid to jump in and do anything they ask their team to do. Find out where your candidate's work ethic originated; this will give insight beyond the traditional questions.
2. Firm But Fair
As a manager, you are not running for political office. It is not a popularity contest, and you must be ready to make tough decisions. Not everyone will agree, as there are always multiple agendas. You can take a stand on any issue if the team feels you are fair in your judgment. Not every decision will be your best as the information to be considered is not always complete. You should evaluate to the best of your ability and move forward. If a decision is wrong or flawed, then admit any mistakes; this shows that you consider the importance of any decision and its outcome.
3. Empathy vs. Sympathy
You must listen to all sides as a manager to be effective. When you hear the feedback or input from your team, you must filter that information to avoid enabling negative behavior that is not beneficial vs. what deserves your support and action. Good managers relate and communicate understanding without endorsing a direction that subtracts from the team's performance.
4. Left vs. Right
All areas of responsibility need to be addressed for any manager candidate: corporate reports, daily administration duties, interdepartmental communication, and a schedule that can get quite hectic. These skill sets are essential for any successful manager and must be included in your evaluations. We also know there is a balance between doing what you love and what must be done in management. Some managers lean more left brain, and some more right brain, make sure there is an appreciation for both attributes and the attention they deserve. Data and creativity should go hand in hand to develop an optimal result for any team.
5. Serve the Team and the Company.
You must indeed be strong, confident, and knowledgeable to lead a team, and not every request will be granted. The team members must also see you as serving them and know you have their back, have their interests in mind, and give them an added voice when department-wide decisions get made. A great manager looks in both directions and serves the team's needs and the company; even if the agendas are not always aligned, they can be the glue that keeps the shared vision and value in place.
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About Alec Drake:
As President of Drake Media Group, a content creation, and sales consulting company, Alec is on a mission to share his unique perspective on best practices to enhance sales performance and drive revenue. The company offers a range of consulting expertise including sales operations, team and individual coaching, yield and revenue management strategies, event sponsorship formats, and sales marketing.
Drake Media Group, LLC retains exclusive rights to the original content in all articles written by Alec Drake, contained in any podcast appearances, or articles published on third-party platforms.