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How to Become a Top Sales Manager w/ Kevin Davis [Episode 488]

Sales management is tough to get right, and is certainly not for everyone. This episode discusses how to get sales management right the first time.

Kevin Davis, President of Top Line Leadership, and author of multiple books, including his latest, The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness: Ten Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top, joins me for the second time on this episode.


Kevin discusses the reception his new book has received, and how readers pull from it what is most meaningful for the challenges their sales teams face.

The sales manager has enormous influence on the performance and productivity of their salespeople. A salesperson needs internal drive and the willingness to engage, to be successful.

Kevin talks about the internal motivation of a salesperson, and what influences it. He lists the top four internal motivating drives.

Kevin cites Frederick Herzberg’s research, and adds a fifth motivating drive. Sales managers can touch and influence every one of those motivators.

One company surveyed their 1,500 salespeople about the effect their sales managers had on their performance through feedback and coaching. Kevin explains the findings.

Kevin explores sales leadership and sales management, and how they correlate. The company survey found sales managers were better salespeople than they were leaders.

A one-on-one meeting between the sales manager and a salesperson is where coaching can be effective. Kevin talks about the loss review process, and how the sales manager can perform it effectively to reinforce best practices.

Salespeople often blame a lost deal on price. The sales manager, with the rep, should call the lost customer, and ask them what went wrong, and how the process could have gone better. This can provide information the rep did not have.

If the lost customer won’t talk, that shows there was never a deal. Sales managers need to be doing real-time coaching, so it is clear which deals are going to happen, and which are not real. Re-package accountability as a positive.

As a manager, ask the questions that help the person figure out what to do. Management should not be criticism, but coaching. Kevin tells how his first sales manager helped him by letting him learn by doing, without interference.

Sales managers are salespeople, and love the rush of sales. Transitioning to leadership requires a new mindset. Engage with your salespeople, not their customers. Only you, the sales manager, can coach and develop your salespeople.

The discussion turns to the requirements of sales management. It is critical to know and understand them before accepting that role. Not everyone enjoys leading others. Have self-awareness before being promoted.

The Sales Enablement Podcast with Andy Paul was formerly Accelerate! with Andy Paul.