The 10 Traits of the Best Sales Managers

Sales managers play a crucial role in the success of any company with a sales force. Good sales managers can get great results from their teams and keep both management and employees happy. Bad sales managers can hurt morale, sending salespeople scrambling for the exits which in turn affects the bottom line. You've shared stories with us about the best managers you've worked for and although there isn’t one management style that’s most effective, there are traits that the best sales managers possess. The best sales managers are:

1) Visionary – A good sales manager sees the big picture and doesn’t get bogged down with petty issues that don’t matter in the long run. The customer’s happiness, the employees’ success, and the company’s reputation and profitability are what truly matter. 

2) Enthusiastic – A belief in what you sell and the people who sell it can inspire teams to their best. An enthusiastic sales manager can show up to work every day and inspire people to perform at their highest level through contagious enthusiasm and energy.  

3) Organized – While some salespeople are grossly disorganized, the everyday functions of nearly all sales managers require them to provide structure and organization to their teams. The best sales managers know where every one of their team members stands at any given time and create order out of chaos. 

4) Good listeners – Listening is arguably the most valuable skill a salesperson can learn, and this extends to sales management as well. Not only do sales managers need to be able to handle customer issues which tend to require hearing people’s grievances, they need to listen to their employees to understand their motivations, gripes, and suggestions for improvement. 

5) Supportive – A relationship with your boss is like a relationship with a significant other; if things are going poorly, it affects your whole life. And like a good spouse, a good sales manager is supportive, helping you get through the tough times and getting you back to your best self. 

6) Humble – No one wants to come into work and deal with an arrogant sales manager, especially not sales people who tend to have strong personalities to begin with, so humility is always big when it comes to sales management. In fact, some would argue that it’s the one trait most likely to get a solid producer promoted to manager to begin with. 

7) Willing to sacrifice – This is what separates the good managers from the great ones. When it’s time to put themselves on the line, the best sales manager won’t think twice. Whether it’s covering for a rep during an emergency or sticking up for an employee who's hit a slump; the best managers will stick their necks out for their teams. 

8) Honorable – Integrity is an important trait for a sales manager to have because it sets the correct example for a sales team. Similar to organization, sales teams need a solid ethical foundation from management, which begins with a manager who shows a high degree of honesty. 

9) Positive – If there’s one thing that sales people encounter more than anything else, it’s rejection. That's why positivity on the part of a sales manager is a non-negotiable trait. Some sales managers believe in negative reinforcement, but those managers never earn the same level of respect from their staff as the ones who inspire with measured, positive support.

10) Credible – Credibility manifests itself in two ways: to customers, sales managers must seem like an authority in the space, knowing both the product and market better than anyone; to their team, sales managers must have chops as a rep and not as someone who has always coached from the sidelines. 

Here are a few great stories from our readers that demonstrate many of these traits: 

John Filippone "I fell at home while brining down the trash and broke my right ankle leaving me unable to drive to work (because my ankle needed surgery). My manager paid me my base pay and even closed some irons in the fire for me giving a nice bounus check while I was expecting nothing. I asked him if the base pay was a draw and he told me no. I was touched and asked how I could pay him back and all he said was, "keep being you and keep putting in the effort.". The most amazing thing is that I'm 50 and he's 26."

Robert Watson "Years ago I was selling cars and we had a huge off-site sale. It was busy and I wrote - up five deals that were all killed due to bad credit. Five of em. In a row. I was out on the lot wondering what the hell I had to do to get a qualified buyer when my sales manager walked out, shook my hand and said, "Just keep doing what you're doing. You are one of the best I have." and walked away. When he shook my hand, he pressed something into it. I looked, and it was $250. $50 for everyone I wrote up. I went from seriously depressed to the top of the world. Changed my whole perspective and the very next customer I talked to landed me a huge deal. I never would have closed that deal in the state of mind I had been in before my manager came out and spoke with me."

Nicte Artemisa Mendoza "My sales manager helped me through a slump when my father was going through chemo and after he passed away. Approved all my PTO and donated a gift card with over $500 on it. On paper he was my manager but he turned out to be a good friend to me during that time."

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