how to become a good sales manager

How to Become a Good Sales Manager: 5 Things You Must Master

You’ve been making it rain as a salesperson for a while now, and you want to transition to being a sales manager.

Good for you–this is necessary for scaling your business and career. 

But the transition from making all the sales yourself to being the “CEO of sales” comes with all kinds of potential pitfalls and new challenges.

I know firsthand. 

I started closing as a one-man show. 

Now, I run Closers.io–a massive sales training company that works with 200+ organizations.

And I learned something incredible through that process…

In order to become a great sales manager, you have to become an expert at 5 specific things.

Those who master these skills succeed–those who don’t fail.

It’s that simple.

And in this article, I’ll walk you through each of these 5 skills and show you how to develop them.

What Makes a Good Sales Manager? Mastery of These 5 Things

Most advice for becoming a successful sales manager says the same old unhelpful things…

“Coach your team!”

“Hold people accountable!”

“Motivate your reps to hit their projections!”

These things are obvious. Of course you need to do them.

What most people don’t talk about is how to master the 5 main things a sales manager MUST be good at to succeed:

1. Recruiting

Half the battle of being a good sales manager is building a great team. After all, you’re only going to get as far as the quality of your sales reps.

That’s why sales managers must be able to attract top 1% salespeople.

This can be an entire masterclass in and of itself, but there’s one CRITICAL thing I’ve learned while growing Closers.io.

The best salespeople want great career opportunities.

At the end of the day, all great salespeople are looking for opportunities to grow. And you’ll only be able to attract and retain A-players if you provide them with uncapped potential.

This doesn’t have to mean unlimited earning potential, it could also mean a combination of money with:

  • More flexibility or time off
  • A leadership position
  • Equity
  • Or some other perk

The specific combination of perks will vary from person to person, but mapping out different ways to continue giving your salespeople new incentives is key to attracting and retaining talent.

2. Hiring

Even if you consistently attract the best of the best salespeople, there’s still work to be done.

Great sales managers master the skill of determining which of the few reps are truly great culture fits for their team.

This comes down to clearly understanding and communicating your mission and values.

Not every great sales rep will care about the same things you do or will even have the attitude you’re looking for.

And that’s ok.

But making a bad hire is one of the worst mistakes you can possibly make as a sales manager–which is why you have to become an expert at identifying the type of great sales rep that will make a great fit with your team.

You’ll be tempted to hire people strictly based on their resume and past performance, but resist this at all costs.

Great hires will have great performance AND be a great culture fit.

3. Onboarding

Good sales managers have a refined onboarding process that gets new sales reps fully integrated into the company as efficiently as possible.

They know that a stellar onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82%, so they put serious thought and intentionality behind it.

The specifics of onboarding new sales reps will vary from company to company, but the main thing you need to do here is clearly communicate:

  1. Expectations for performance and behavior
  2. Their growth potential
  3. The ins and outs of the business
  4. How the sales team operates

Within a week or two, you want them to be able to hit the ground running–working within your culture and systems.

4. Training

One of the most consistent, day-to-day roles of a great sales manager is being a great coach.

But what does that really mean?

In short, it means:

1. Make it clear that you care about your reps and want the best for them.

Developing trust and mutual respect with each member of your team is key. 

Because great coaching requires direct feedback and accountability from you (the leader) and receptivity and a desire to grow from each team member.

And this type of relationship only happens when your sales reps truly respect you as a leader and know any feedback you give them comes from a place of care.

This is the foundation of great coaching.

2. Set high standards (and live up to them yourself first and foremost).

Great coaches demand excellence from their team.

And sales is no different.

Great sales managers set really high standards for their reps and hold them accountable to those standards daily.

At Closers.io, we do this through quick and efficient calls to start each day where everyone on the team discusses their commitments and what they need from others to achieve them.

Then, we have each rep fill out an end-of-day report that goes over the calls they had, the results they saw, what went well, and what didn’t.

This creates a culture of accountability and excellence.

3. Give direct feedback.

As previously mentioned, this is much easier to do when your reps trust and respect you. They know that you aren’t “coming down on them”, but you’re trying to help them.

As a sales manager, you have to give consistent and direct feedback on each rep’s performance. 

They each need specific instruction on areas they can improve and how they can improve them. 

You can find these areas of improvement through daily sales meetings, 1-on-1s, and end-of-day reports. 

Keep your pulse on both the quantitative (whether they’re hitting their numbers) and qualitative data (problems they’re facing and their reasons for why things are or aren’t working). 

Combining the two (which most sales managers overlook) leads to great insight into specific ways to coach your team.

5. Staying in Sync with Marketing

The final thing all great sales managers must master is constant communication with the leadership of the marketing team.

Why is this important?

Because each is critical for the other’s success.

The leads that marketing generates for the business directly impact the results the sales team can generate. The amount of revenue the sales team generates directly impacts the marketing team’s numbers–budget, target CPA, and more.

So, sales needs to base their projections on data they get from the marketing team–average CPA, CLV, etc. 

And marketing needs to base their ad budgets on the sales team’s projections.

Great sales managers understand this and constantly communicate and collaborate with marketing rather than operating in a silo.

Master These And You’ll Become a Great Sales Manager

The transition from salesperson to sales manager can be difficult and downright confusing at times.

…especially if you’re not focused on mastering the right skills.

Throughout my transition from solo closer to now running a team of 70+ people, I’ve learned that great sales managers are masters at:

  1. Recruiting
  2. Hiring
  3. Onboarding
  4. Training
  5. Staying in sync with marketing

So, as you make this transition, focus on these 5 areas above all else.

This will take a different mindset and there will be growing pains, but being laser-focused on the right things will take years off your learning curve.

Interested in having me train you and your sales team? We’ve worked with 200+ sales teams and have helped them scale to 7, 8, and even 9 figures in revenue.

And if you’re interested in us helping you do the same, click here.

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