Sales managers play an integral role in your company’s success. Their level of performance directly impacts your ability to hit your targets, your reps’ ability to reach their quotas, and your overall bottom line.
“The bottom 25% of sales managers were performing at 76% of their target, while the top 25% of sales managers were performing at 115% of their target,” Michelle Vazzana, CSO and Co-Founder at VantagePoint explains. Furthermore, “The bottom 25% of sales managers had 47% of reps achieving quota, while the top 25% of sales managers had 65% of reps achieving quota.”
This data shows first hand the difference of making the right hire. Now, let’s examine sales manager responsibilities and other essential career information, along with specific questions you can ask when hiring a sales manager.
Sales Manager Job Description
A sales manager is responsible for leading sales reps to consistently reach their targets individually and collectively as a team. They coach, mentor, motivate, hold reps accountable, manage the sales forecast, identify current trends, and run sales reports. They’re usually involved in the sales training and onboarding process and are responsible for equipping reps with the tools for success. And in many cases, they’re also involved with recruiting.
The median pay for a sales manager in 2019 was $60.89 per hour, totaling $126,640 a year, according to the BLS. Here’s how that breaks down by state.
Most sales managers are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in business or a similar field. They must also have direct experience in business and/or management, ideally with five years of experience or more.
Many organizations make the mistake of promoting their top reps to sales manager. While this often seems like a good idea, top-performing sales reps don’t always have the needed skills, desire, and commitment required to be a successful sales manager. It’s important before making any hiring decision to use a science-based assessment to help identify the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses to ensure they have what it takes to be successful.
Sales Manager Duties
- Recruit team members to build and maintain an effective sales team
- Monitor market trends and continually create sales forecasts
- Identify sales opportunities and emerging markets
- Create concrete short-term and long-term goals for the entire sales team, as well as for individual reps
- Closely monitor the results of their team, determining what percentage of quotas are met
- Perform routine assessments of reps to identify those who are getting the best results, as well as those who need to improve their performance
- Use analytics to gain in-depth insights on KPIs
- Provide reps with ongoing sales coaching to fully develop their skills
- Offer individual help to reps who need it
- Communicate with marketing and upper management
- Motivate and mentor sales reps
- Set goals and hold reps accountable to achieving those goals
- Work diligently to build trust and rapport among key accounts to create lasting customer relationships
Key Skills of Top Performing Sales Managers
John Thomas of CRM platform SalesBabu highlights the five most vital skills that a top performing sales manager should possess.
- Leadership – This should come naturally, where a sales manager understands how to interact and engage with reps and how to guide them without micromanaging.
- Sales performance management – They must be skilled at A) setting goals and B) staying up-to-date on KPIs to determine if those goals are being met. If not, they must make changes to align the sales team’s results with their expectations.
- Coaching and motivating the sales team – Being a great motivator is paramount — something that largely boils down to keeping reps engaged. Research has found, “Organizations with higher than average levels of employee engagement realized 27% higher profits, 50% higher sales, 50% higher customer loyalty levels, and 38% above-average productivity.” Research has shown that top sales managers spend more than 50% of their time coaching their sales team.
- Organization and planning – A top sales manager understands how the pieces fit together and knows how to leverage the unique skill sets of individuals to guide their planning. They’re “big picture” thinkers and use their organization and planning abilities to pave the way for attaining ambitious achievements.
- Being adept at hiring – Making a bad hire costs companies an average of nearly $15,000. A top sales manager knows how to find sales reps that are natural fits with their business’s culture and develops a streamlined onboarding process to reduce the learning curve. How much is a bad sales hire costing you? Use this sales hiring mistake calculator to find out.
Beyond those five key skills, data from independent research firm ZS Associates identified some additional characteristics that distinguish top sales managers from their average counterparts. This information is based on an occupational personality questionnaire, with the traits on the right being the ones we’re interested in.
Some of the most important traits include being:
- Variety seeking
- Socially confident
Interview Questions When Assessing a Potential Sales Manager
Now that we know what a sales manager’s core responsibilities are and the specific skills they should possess, let’s take a look at some interview questions you can use to assess a candidate’s potential.
- What particular things do you like most about sales?
- What’s your style of leadership?
- What traits do you look for when recruiting sales reps?
- What techniques do you use to onboard new sales reps?
- How do you minimize onboarding friction and quickly get reps up to speed?
- What strategies do you use to motivate sales reps?
- What motivates you?
- How have you gotten yourself out of a sales slump in the past?
- How do you help a rep with poor performance get back on track?
- How do you handle issues that arise in the workplace? (Ask for an example)
- What specific steps did you take to improve sales performance at a previous position? (Ask for data-driven metrics)
- Which types of sales platforms are you familiar with?
- Which platforms are your favorite, and why?
- How comfortable are you with using data analytics?
- What makes you the best candidate for our sales manager position?
Hiring Top Tier Sales Managers
“Top-performing sales managers achieve 39% more of their target than bottom-performing managers,” making them a critical part of your organization. Understanding sales manager responsibilities and knowing which factors play the biggest role in success should improve your hiring process and help you pinpoint the most qualified candidates.
Looking to hire better sales talent, faster? See how HireDNA can help you attract and recruit more qualified candidates and improve retention by using cutting-edge technology and science-based sales assessments.