Sales managers are the key drivers of success in sales organizations. I would rather have a great sales manger and five mediocre sales reps than a mediocre sales manager and five star sales people.

There have been major strides in helping sales people become stronger with sales enablement programs, training and automation. The fact remains that selling is about people. Having great sales managers is still the foundational piece to making your sales organization perform. Only once you have a strong sales management team can you truly reap the benefits of a sales performance enhancement program. 

If you are a sales manager and want to be a STAR or you are the CSO and want to build a STAR sales organization, here are the five essential skills required for your success and the success of the entire sales organization.

1. Coaching

Coaching is the number one sales management activity that drives sales performance. The goal of coaching is to help each sales rep to improve their performance and reach their true potential. It’s about developing your “A” sales people to become “A+” and developing your “B” sales people to become “A’s”. 

A sales manager with great coaching skills will not only see improved sales performance, but will have better sales rep engagement, reduced turnover and improved job satisfaction.

In my work with many sales managers, one of the toughest skills to master is coaching.

2. Business Acumen

Business acumen is defined as the critical business thinking required to achieve your sales objectives. The business environment demands that both sales reps and managers have strong business skills. Sales managers need to be able to understand complex business issues and help their sales reps view their business strategically. Sales managers need to teach their sales people how to make wiser decisions, plan better, and effectively allocate their resources based on customer needs and potential for growth.

3. Hiring

Most sales managers are not hiring on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Therefore it becomes challenging to develop great hiring skills. However, hiring the right sales person makes a big difference. Hiring mistakes are costly and take time to fix.

Sales managers who can systematically identify and select top sales talent will deliver improved team performance and sales results. 

4. Performance Management

There are many definitions of performance management. I see performance management as conducting quarterly business reviews, managing non-performing sales reps and managing your boss. 

If performance issues go unchecked, sales and team moral can be negatively affected. Many sales managers shy away from confronting sales people who are not performing. It is up to the sales manager to have planned and unplanned checkpoints to address performance issues and develop a plan of action to correct the problem. The sales manager must continually raise the bar on performance.

Another part of performance management is to proactively communicate to your boss when performance issues arise, and to have a solution in place. 

5. Leadership

Sales managers need to be strong leaders. The key to developing strong sales leaders is for your sales managers to be able to create and share a vision with their sales team. Strong sales leaders, have the skill and the will to help their team adopt the vision and keep them focused on working towards achieving it.

Sales leaders require the ability to communicate, innovate, inspire and set the tone for the sales team.


Sales managers who master these five essential sales management skill sets will always be on the podium and have the top performing team. 

Steven A. Rosen, MBA Author, coach and speaker helps companies transform sales managers into great sales leaders. Steven is the author of 52 Sales Management Tips – The Sales Manager’s Success Guide. Steven’s Focused Coaching Program designed for the busy sales executive, manager and new manager.