8 Signs You’re Sales Manager Material

Many sales professionals think becoming a sales manager is the obvious next step in their career. But management isn’t always the career path for all salespeople. Not everyone is cut out for a management role. Sales managers are responsible for the team’s success. Aside from reaching their own quota, other major job responsibilities include:

  • Hiring top talent and retaining the best sales professionals
  • Coaching team members and helping them reach their full potential
  • Keeping track of team performance and strategizing how to improve
  • Acting as a liaison to other departments
  • Motivating team members to do their best work

Developing the right mindset and leadership skills is important if you want to be a sales manager. But how do you know if you’re sales manager material? Here are eight signs you got what it takes to be one:

1) You enjoy motivating other people and helping them succeed.

Managing isn’t just about providing practical advice on selling. You’ll also need to motivate your team members. Do you get satisfaction out of giving someone else a pep talk, or figuring out what makes your colleagues tick?

Some sales professionals naturally assume a role as a team motivator. If that’s you, it’s a good sign that you’re well-suited for management.

2) You understand your company’s business goals from a broad perspective.

Individual contributors can be laser-focused on their own goals. If you know how to sell the product, it’s not critical to understand the details of the whole business model.

Managers need a broader knowledge base. The best managers understand how sales fit into the company structure and what drives revenue.

To develop your business acumen, read books that are about business in general (not just sales-specific books). Get involved in projects that will help you form connections in other departments and put you in contact with decision-makers. This will give you a strong foundation for becoming a sales manager.

3) You have stellar time management skills.

Sales managers have no shortage of demands on their time, so it’s critical that you already know how to manage time effectively. Honestly evaluate your skills in this area when deciding whether to take on a management role.

People with strong time management skills have a set routine they follow every day. They have a system for scheduling tasks. They always (or almost always) meet deadlines without having to ask for an extension. 

If your time management skills are still a work-in-progress, track your habits. Figure out where you’re falling into trouble and experiment with potential solutions to improve your productivity. Fine-tune your work habits before assuming additional responsibilities. Try using productivity tools and seeing what works for you.

4) You enjoy providing practical advice to other members of your team.

Coaching is a critical responsibility for sales managers. To succeed in the role, you need to genuinely enjoy helping others. 

You don’t need to be a manager to mentor other people on your team in an informal or formal capacity. If you’ve assumed this role in the past, was this something that you enjoyed? Would you be comfortable spending hours every week coaching others, or would you rather be doing your own work? Be honest.

If you’re not sure about your ability to coach, ask to mentor a junior sales representative. That experience will help you figure out if that’s where your interests and talents lie. 

5) You have a strong understanding of sales metrics and what drives sales.

In today’s data-driven sales environment, a thorough understanding of metrics isn’t optional. Do you understand major KPIs and how they relate to the sales process? Can you explain this succinctly to others? 

If you’re still feeling a little shaky on sales metrics, devote time to shoring up your skills. Delve deep into your metrics and analytics tools. Pursue resources that enhance your understanding of metrics as it relates to each step of the sales process.

6) You are proactive about improving your own sales skills.

The best sales managers help their team managers improve, not simply tread water. A track record of having improved your own skills is an indicator that you know what self-improvement takes and how to do it.

Many people assume that the best managers are those with “natural” sales talent. In fact, many great managers are people who struggled to master certain skills but then figured out how to overcome the problem. Showing this kind of resilience in the face of challenges is a promising sign for your management potential. If you’ve consistently improved your own skills, you may be able to teach others how to do the same.

7) You can manage conflict in a fair manner.

It might not be the most enjoyable part of management, but as a sales manager, you are expected to mediate conflicts on occasion. It’s imperative that you are able to do so in a way that appears fair to everyone.

Consider how you naturally react to conflict. Are you good at stepping in as a mediator, or is your first inclination to jump in and take sides? It’s possible to learn mediation skills if this isn’t your strength, but that requires active work. Observe people in your department who are good at handling conflict and take notes on how they do it.

If people are already seeking you out to help resolve disputes, that’s a sign that you might be a good manager.

8) You are comfortable having difficult conversations.

Sometimes a sales manager must sit down and tell a team member that they’re underperforming. Nobody likes having this kind of conversation. But if the mere thought of having an uncomfortable conversation makes you break out in hives, you may need more practice before you’re ready to become a manager.

If you’re already demonstrating most of these characteristics, you might be ready to become a sales manager.

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James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.