Top 10 Qualities of Great Sales Managers

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By Matt Bellows, Founder & CEO at Yesware


Ironically, I’m not a great sales manager. The New York Times recently wrote an article about my struggles to manage sales for Yesware and serve as my company’s CEO. With that being said, I’ve been lucky to be able to work with and for some great sales managers. I’ve learned a lot about what makes a good sales manager, and I’m confidant now that I’ve identified the 10 qualities of great sales managers.

I believe that “People don’t quit companies, they quit managers.” With that being said, below are the 10 qualities that I look for in my sales managers:

  1. Confident
    1. Confidence comes from understanding your strengths and weaknesses
    2. Goes to bed thinking, “what can I do to help my team reach their potential?” They put other people first.
  2. Brave
    1. They tackle the big, challenging problems that the company is facing.
    2. They confront issues and have difficult conversations with members of the team.
  3. Ambitious
    1. Another way of putting this is that that you’re hungry.
    2. Be driving, but remember…
  4. Curious
    1. Great sales managers are great listeners. They are sponges, as opposed to rocks.
    2. They actively engage with the people that they speak to.
  5. Optimistic
    1. This doesn’t mean that they’re always smiling and they’re always chipper. It means that you’re not defeated by life’s circumstances.
    2. Alternatively, you’re not “swept away” by success either.
    3. You know how to keep an even keel in times of great struggle and success.
  6. Funny
    1. Sales managers are a little quirky and can be a little weird.
    2. They help bring humor into situations and allow humor to be in the workplace.
  7. A Little scary
    1. Most people understand when they’ve done something wrong. You don’t have to pile on in situations.
    2. It’s important to have an “edge” that is rarely seen. Don’t pile on.
  8. Serious
    1. As an adult, you’re at work for most of your waking hours. Don’t just mail it in.
    2. You have so many opportunities to be “alive” at work and that time is precious. Take it seriously.
  9. Loyal
    1. Never give up on your team. Fight to the end for your team, your prospects, and your companies.
    2. The best start-ups that actually succeed are successful because they don’t give up on their idea. They keep fighting.
  10. Consistent
    1. Be steady, even when it is boring.
    2. Sales Managers need to be there the next sale, the next quarter, the next meeting.

Notice that you don’t see “rich” or “successful” on this list. I don’t put those things on our list because getting rich or being successful is also, in part, a factor of having good luck.

As a sales manager or as a salesperson, consider how you would score yourself from a scale of 1 to 10. Target three things that you want to improve on and come up with a plan for improving in those three areas.

For example, imagine that you score yourself low on consistency and you want to improve your communication. One plan that you could set for yourself is to follow-up via email within 24 hours to everyone who emails you.