Sales Manager Responsibilities: Job Description, Duties, Key Skills, and More

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. 

Median Pay

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. 

Experience Requirements

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. 

  1. Leadership – This should come naturally, where a sales manager understands how to interact and engage with reps and how to guide them without micromanaging. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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
  • Innovative
  • Caring
  • Democratic
  • Socially confident
  • Outgoing
  • Decisive
  • Achieving

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. 

Easily Beat 55% of Your Competitors By Accelerating Your Lead Response Time

What if there was a surefire way to beat more than half of your competitors?

Better yet, what if it didn’t involve making any major changes to your product or brand, or a massive overhaul to your website?

There is, and it’s dead simple. Accelerate your lead response time. 

A Competitive Snapshot

According to Vendasta, 55% of companies take 5+ days to respond to a lead. Of those 55%, 12% never respond at all. 

Talk about letting opportunities slip through your fingers. This lax approach means the majority of companies end up shooting themselves in the foot. 

But that’s good news if you’re a brand that focuses on increasing your speed to lead time. 

Theoretically, responding to a lead in 4 days or less means you’ll reach out to leads quicker than over half of your competitors. That alone leaves you much better positioned to close more deals. 

Being the First to Respond

Beating out 55% of your competitors is a good start and should have a noticeable impact on conversions. But what about the remaining 45%?

To truly be at the top of your industry, you need your response time to be lightning fast — ideally being the first company to respond. After all, a study by Lead Connect found, “78% of customers buy from the company that responds to their inquiry first.”

It’s simple mathematics. 

Even the slightest bit of sluggishness can have disastrous consequences, and this is a big reason why brands that are slow to respond have such a hard time gaining traction. If, however, you fine-tune your lead response process so that a sales rep makes contact before any other brands do, you’re instantly in a position to thrive

The Golden Window

But let’s take it one step further and look at some specific data to better understand the correlation between response time and lead qualification. 

A study from Lead Simple found that responding within 5 minutes is the ideal timeframe and can have a dramatic impact on the number of leads you’re able to qualify. This is known as “the golden window.”

Wait 10 minutes, and that number drops significantly by 80%. Wait 15 minutes or longer, and that number continues to decline. This graph really helps put things into perspective. 

Making the effort to respond within 5 minutes gives you an immense advantage over the competition. And if you can respond within a minute, sales conversions spike by a staggering 391%!

Although this is easier said than done, these statistics illustrate the impact of accelerating your lead response time. Even if you can reach out within 5 hours, this is still 40% more effective than waiting 24 hours. 

Developing a Realistic Formula 

At this point, we’ve established the importance of a fast lead response time and that keeping it under 5 minutes is optimal. In a perfect world, your sales team could do this with no sweat, and you’d have someone available around the clock to reach out whenever a lead expresses even the least bit of interest. 

But that isn’t always realistic, especially for smaller companies with limited manpower. Fortunately, there are tools available that allow you to contact a lead automatically to schedule a meeting. 

One of the best examples is inbound lead conversion and scheduling app, Chili Piper. Whenever a lead initiates a trigger action, like requesting a demo, they can select a meeting time that’s convenient for them. 

Chili Piper then routes the lead to the appropriate sales rep based on customizable rules, instantly adding the meeting to their calendar. From there, the rep can reach out later to provide a product demonstration, answer questions, and fully engage the lead. 

You can even schedule auto-reminders so a lead remembers the upcoming meeting and has time to prepare, which greatly reduces the odds of a no-show. 

Or, if the lead is ready to talk right away and a sales rep is available, you can use Chili Piper to route a live call to the correct rep. It integrates with major video conferencing platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting, so reps can have video chats as well. 

Another option is free online scheduling software, Calendly

It automates scheduling through your pipeline by instantly sending a scheduling link to a lead when they complete an action, such as filling out a web form. Again, the lead can choose a time that works best for them, while getting key info, like how long the meeting will last, what platform you’ll be using, and so on. 

This is done right from within your website, allowing you to automatically route the lead to a qualified sales rep without any friction. That way hot leads aren’t left hanging, and you can quickly get them to where they need to go. 

So, even if you don’t have a rep available to have a call right away, you can still schedule a meeting to strike while iron is hot and ensure qualified leads don’t get off the line. 

A Recap 

If you’re able to respond to a lead in under 5 days, you’re already ahead of the game and will have the edge on 55% of your competitors. But if you get your lead response time down to 5 minutes or less, you’ll be at the head of the pack.

While it may not always be possible to have a rep on standby at all times, using the right tools allows you to schedule meetings with leads at a time that’s convenient for them. This results in a better overall experience for leads and helps keep your response time to an absolute minimum. 

Looking to build a high-performance sales team? Learn how HireDNA can help, source, screen, and qualify candidates using science and data so you can make better hiring decisions, faster.