Is this you? You’re a very successful salesperson. You regularly beat your targets. You know your products, clients, market and competitors inside out. You’re buzzing with ideas and feel that you could do your boss’s job. Frankly, you’re ready for a new challenge. However, being a target-beating sales person and being a great sales manager are worlds apart. It’s as different as being a racing driver or a car designer.

This is not an insurmountable problem, though. Most companies who are looking for a sales manager want to promote or hire someone who has proved themselves in a sales role. All you need to do is prepare yourself so you are the obvious choice. So, what are the key attributes that employers will be looking for?

1. Communication

Whether you communicate with your team verbally or in writing, you need to be clear, effective and efficient. Without this skill you’ll never be able to give instructions that can be followed by your team.

2. Teamwork 

A sense of team can make a significant difference in whether you meet or fail your objectives. Making sure you hold team meetings to share information, tips and successes is essential. Just as important is creating and maintaining the bond across the team. Typically, more fun, out of work activities encourage this. 

3. Performance management

As the manager, you are expected to get the most out of each team member. This means that if any member is not performing effectively, you need to address this. If your company doesn’t already have a formal process in place, develop your own simple and fair method for setting objectives and tracking each person’s achievement against them. 

4. Personal development

Similarly, you’re responsible for making sure that every member has the necessary skills to do the job well. Creating a personal development plan to identify what training is needed is a simple way to achieve this. Quarterly reviews ensure that you’re always on top of this responsibility. 

5. Leadership 

Your team will be looking to you for leadership. They will want you to set clear direction and targets. In times of stress and turbulence, they will look to you to take control and steady things. When things go wrong, they will look to you to shoulder the strain and find solutions.

6. Fairness

Unless you are scrupulously fair at all times, you may find yourself undermined in your efforts to achieve your objectives. When people sense unfairness, they lose all respect for their manager. Performing well under these conditions is impossible.

7. Resilience

Some things will be difficult, and at times, things may go wrong. Your team will often be unreasonable, and you will face countless disappointments. You can’t afford to let these bring you down or slow you up, though. You must be able to shake off each problem, re-focus and carry on driving through your objectives. 

8. Delegation

As a salesperson, if you succeeded or failed it was down to your efforts and ability. As a sales manager, you simply can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything yourself. Learn how to delegate effectively if you want to get anything done.

9. Motivation and inspiration

This is the one that’s arguably most difficult to learn. Some people think that they need to give great speeches to inspire their people. Happily, if you manage to do most of the above, most of the time, with grace, humour and generosity, you will inspire your team to follow you into your ‘battles.’

Becoming a sales manager may be your next step, but it’s still no easy task. In fact, it’s full of obstacles. Michael Jordan had something to say about those, though: “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” And by learning what the key attributes of a sales manager are, you’ll soon be working around any of the obstacles you face!

About the Author

FHeather Foley is a consultant at, a UK-based HR consultancy.