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The sales manager skills that lead to promotions

5 min readJanuary 27, 2020

Sales management is an extremely rewarding, challenging, and exciting position to be in. Ultimately you are responsible for leading and guiding a team of reps to success through goals, quotas, plans, and processes.

Whether you are already a manager looking to be promoted or are a sales rep that wants to become a manager, these are the sales management skills that you must develop to advance in your career.

Strong sales coaching skills

First and foremost, you must possess strong sales coaching skills. Sales coaching is a relatively new sales leadership model that has been proven to unlock a sales team’s true potential and drive increased performance and revenue.

If you are currently a sales manager, you should establish and manage a sales coaching plan with your team. Come up with a plan, set goals, schedule regular educational meetings, and become experienced in elevating individual reps to success through personalized goals. Ultimately you want demonstrated success with a scalable coaching program. Help your reps identify areas of improvement and provide them with the means to get better.

If you are a rep who wants to become a sales manager. Showcase that you have the skills of a sales coach. Hold educational sessions for other reps, neutrally provide valuable feedback, and develop your own knowledge.

Sales coaching is about more than a plan. As a sales manager, you should show that you have emotional intelligence, can earn trust, can develop personal connections, and have the ability to manage multiple sales rep improvement plans at a single time.

Ability to see talent in others

Sales managers have a significant say in the new sales reps that join their team, as well as their career progression within it. Therefore, a sales manager looking for a promotion should show they have the skills to make good sales hires and properly promote them within their team.

Sales managers should not only see raw sales talent, but be able to see how particular skills and experience will make a rep successful when aligned with specific customers or verticals. You should show that you have made excellent sales hires and coached them properly with reps who have stayed with the organization and who have consistently outperformed the average.

Reps who want to become sales managers should show the skills to select good reps when on hiring panels and provide other reps with good advice on how to properly leverage their skills and experience.

Excellent leadership skills

Naturally, a great sales manager will have strong leadership skills. You should be able to generate buy-in from their reps and garner their trust. You should also be deserving of the trust that your reps give you. Be truthful, transparent, and open with them. Sales managers who get promotions can inspire others. As a sales manager, you should also be able to make sound leadership decisions and be accountable for their success or failure.

Reps who want to be sales managers will be natural leaders. Peers will turn to you for advice, and you may find your sales manager even turns to you for your insights. Demonstrate your leadership skills by helping others succeed and taking initiative when the time comes.

Strong team player

Sales is a very individual profession. Through all the layers of leadership, management, training, and education, you are ultimately responsible for your success. As a sales manager, you must own your reps’ success as your own. You need to be responsible for not only setting their goals, but also for helping them get there. You should provide your reps with the training they need to succeed and remain personally accountable for their success.

Being a team player as a sales manager also means that you work across sales teams with other sales managers to meet common goals. You should also collaborate with other departments like marketing and customer success to ensure the different business units function together. For example, meet with marketing to assure that your team is following up with marketing-generated leads for maximum ROI.

As a sales rep, demonstrate your team skills by working collaboratively with other reps. The key is that you have to be okay if you’re not the leader. Work with others even if it means they stand to gain something and you don’t.

Strong interpersonal skills and diplomacy

Sales management is a highly personable role that requires days full of in-person meetings. That means that interpersonal abilities and diplomacy are crucial sales manager skills.

You should be able to not only be diplomatic with your team and with your sales reps, but also with the leadership above you. As a sales manager, you need to be diplomatic in your approach as you will speak not only for yourself but also for the reps that you work with.

Data and analytical skills

Sales managers do a lot of number crunching, and therefore as a manager, you must have a strong data and analytical skillset. You must be able to use various sales tools to analyze your reps’ activities in relation to output and goals. You should be able to understand what exactly must be accomplished each day to achieve overall team goals and be able to get your reps to do it.

Metrics such as dials-to-opportunities, demo-to-close rates, average deal time, and average deal value are all important for a sales manager to be proficient with. If you’re looking for a promotion showcase your skills as a sales manager by streamlining your sales team’s activities and by using sales analytics tools to properly forecast outcomes.

Constant Learner

One of the most crucial sales manager skills is the constant pursuit of knowledge and learning. Sales managers must continuously learn to stay at the forefront of management methodology and actively add new techniques to their skillset. After all, how can you train your reps to adapt to market changes if you don’t know them?

Reps who want to become sales managers should ensure they are also constantly learning, and even share the knowledge they acquire with peers through lunch and learn sessions or one-on-ones.