The Key Role of a Sales Manager Blog Feature
Steve Bookbinder

By: Steve Bookbinder on March 23rd, 2015

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The Key Role of a Sales Manager

sales | Sales Management

Almost all sales managers are required to play multiple roles, but which one is most important?  Assuming that every duty and task carries the same weight doesn’t recognize that some are more critical for success than others.  In addition, it becomes incredibly easy to get bogged down in an endless morass of activities that don’t maximize the sales managers effectiveness.Fotolia_58038177_Subscription_Monthly_M

“Making the numbers” is simply not enough!  Solely focusing on the obvious goals of generating revenue and making budgets ignores the deeper contribution that a sales manager should be making to his/her company.  Most sales managers were once salespeople who performed at a high level, making their own numbers on a pretty consistent basis.  So it’s no surprise that “singular” mindset tends to carry over with sales managers.  By nature, people tend to keep on doing what they do best.  

The big first step is moving from “I” to “we”.  Sales managers are charged with the performance and results of not just themselves, but all the members of their respective sales team.  It’s a big and sometimes difficult switch to caring about the collective as opposed to individual good.  Sales managers are infamous for “taking over” a given sale in progress instead of letting their salesperson carry the ball to the close.  It’s a new sales manager’s knee-jerk reaction to do what always worked for them.  But “taking over” does absolutely nothing to develop the salesperson assigned to that given account.

A successful team typically has a successful coach! 

Pick a sport, and the teams that win on a consistent basis usually have terrific coaches who lead the way!  It’s true in sports and it’s true in sales.  A sales manager’s most important role is to be an effective coach for his/her team.  And if a sales manager isn’t predisposed to becoming a great coach, then he/she should think seriously about returning to being a successful salesperson instead.  Sales managers have a serious obligation to their team to coach each and every member to a higher and more effective performance level.

Effective coaching takes guts, patience and focus! 

Coaches must both praise and criticize team members and work with them on improvement of specific skills and abilities.  It’s painstaking, time consuming and sometimes frustrating work.  Communicating clearly and effectively on big issues and small details are both parts of the job.  Coaching a sales team means coming up with a different solution for every member of the team…one size doesn’t necessarily fit all in terms of coaching.  Great coaches know the critical differences from team member to member and operate accordingly.

Effective coaching is critical when the game is changing! 

Digital technology is disrupting sales operations across a wide array of businesses.  Sales managers who can guide their teams through a rapidly evolving landscape must be adept at coaching.  While the playbook may be different, the fundamentals of selling still must be instilled in every salesperson.  Coaches must also convey perspective and clarity to the situation at hand.  The best teams are more than confident that their coaches will never let them down!

Coaches also need coaching. 

Since most companies don’t offer formal training for sales managers, it’s often necessary for a sales manager to seek out someone to be his/her coach.  It should be a person that we want to emulate, and someone who has demonstrated how to be a successful coach.  We don’t learn quite as much from someone who has failed.  There’s also a ton of books written by successful coaches (particularly in sports) that can help any sales manager become a better one. 

So embrace the conviction and make the commitment to be a great sales manager by becoming a really great coach!

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About the Author


Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!

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About Steve Bookbinder

Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.

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