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The Changing Role of Sales Management: What Great Sales Management Looks Like Today

12 Aug, 2015 By: Kim D Ward

I received a call the other day from a sales manager who works for a large client that we’ve trained, supported and coached for over 10 years. He said that he was calling for help in gaining perspective. Then he said, “Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve been a sales manager for years and yet I feel like that as time goes by my job is getting more complicated and I’m really struggling to get everything done. Have you heard this from anyone else?”

Yes, we hear that and other similar comments and questions in every sales management training program we conduct. I let him know that in a similar vein we frequently hear things like:

  • I’m working harder and longer but not getting as much done!
  • My sales management job seems to be getting much more difficult!
  • I feel more like an administrator and closer than a sales manager!
  • I’m so busy handling tactical that I don’t have time to be strategic!
  • My salespeople’s abilities don’t seem to be improving!
  • How can I focus myself and my team on selling when I’m constantly handling other people’s priorities?
  • I think that new technologies are actually making my job more challenging!

If you are like so many others and sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of responsibilities and priorities you are required to manage and balance, then please allow me to suggest that it’s not your imagination. According to the most recent research, the sales manager’s role has definitely become much more complex. In fact, research suggests that most sales managers today must become proficient in several different roles which all require a wide variety of unique sales management techniques.

These new and more complex sales manager’s roles include: Coach, Strategist, Politician, Communicator, Educator, Recruiter, Closer and Technologist

  • Coach: Helping to improve team member selling skills and business acumen
  • Strategist: Using experience and perspective to guide the sales process
  • Politician: Leveraging internal company resources both inside and outside the team
  • Communicator: Communicating team needs to the organization and ensuring that the best opportunities receive priority
  • Educator: Ensuring that everyone learns from wins and losses in order to better serve clients
  • Recruiter: Attracting high quality talent while back filling a candidate pool
  • Closer: Providing tactical selling help to ensure wins with more prospects
  • Technologist: Driving and managing CRM application to improve team member and process success

With so many important sales manager roles and responsibilities, it can be challenging to accomplish everything in an appropriate time frame. Plus, the requirement of several of these newly expected roles can cause some successful sales managers to question their experience and capabilities. So here is how we suggest most sales managers begin to improve this condition.

  1. Evaluate honestly your current condition

Don’t close your eyes and pretend there are no weeds in the garden. If you feel yourself struggling, take a few minutes, take a step back and identify specific areas of concern which might require training, education or help. With today’s more complex roles of sales manager responsibilities, it would be foolish to think that you are supposed to have natural expert ability without the proper instruction and guidance that can be easily gained through the proper professional sales manager training course.

  1. Open lines of communication both up and down

Be honest with your boss and employees. Don’t think that you are always supposed to handle everything. By being open with your boss about your plans for action and improvement and by sharing the need and importance of employee development so they can become more independent you may find that there are people willing to step up and help. And, even if they don’t lighten your load at least everyone both up and down will have a better understanding of what you are doing and accomplishing.

  1. Work from a written tactical plan

Everyday make a list of the things you need to do and then add the things you want to do. It’s too easy to get caught up in someone else’s priorities or dramas. I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t help, I’m suggesting that when you help them you don’t want to overlook the work priorities that will cause you stress if you forget them.

  1. Remember to make time for you and yours

Balance is more than just a word, it’s a lifestyle. Being a sales manager has never been a 40 hour a week job. And yet, when you do finally get home, no matter how difficult the day has been, make sure to spend quality time with the other people you care about so that you never have to feel regretful or stressed over neglecting someone important.

Sales Managers and other executive leaders live and work in a much more complex world today. If we’ve learned anything at Learning Outsource Group working with over 70,000 successful business people, it would be that everyone can use a little ‘checkup from the neck up’ and a helping hand once in a while.

Remember: Evaluate, Discover, Plan and Implement.


Kim D. Ward is the Director of Training for Learning Outsource Group based in Ormond Beach, Florida. He has been involved in training and consulting within the office imaging industry since 1993. He is a nationally recognized speaker, facilitator, consultant, and coach and has personally worked with over 30,000 industry professionals, teaching such programs as Sales Management Leadership, Management Development, Advanced Sales Training, Selling Managed Print Services, and many others. Kim has worked extensively with a large number of industry OEM’s, IKON, Global Imaging Systems, Xerox, and over 800 independent office imaging dealers during the past 20 years. www.learningoutsourcegroup.com

About the Author: Kim D Ward

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