7 Different Styles of a Successful Sales Manager

Sales Coaching | Sales Leadership

Managing a high-performance sales team can be challenging.

One of the main challenges is that the job requires multiple management styles. For example, one day you could be on ride-alongs coaching your reps, the next day, working on new territory plans for your team.

So if you don't want to struggle in your role, here are seven management styles you must adopt to be successful.

Style #1: Performance Manager

The one element common to all sales managers, regardless of specific responsibilities, is that their primary role is to achieve results through and with others.

This is the classic definition of management and forms the basis of what sales managers do daily. That means communicating performance expectations to your sales reps, monitoring and managing key behaviors that drive sales results, monitoring results, and providing feedback, including holding them accountable.

So, your first sales manager style is a performance manager whose approach is managing a team to a specific sales goal.  

Style #2: Leader

The best sales managers not only manage the day-to-day tasks but also demonstrate great leadership and know-how to inspire their teams.

One of the foundational ways to become a sales leader is to create a vision for your team’s success. This vision will help your team focus on their goals and prioritize their activities even when they encounter obstacles.

A clear and actionable sales vision is achievable in a reasonable period (12-18 months) and not too lofty.

Style #3: Motivator

To be a successful manager, you must understand the unique motivators that drive each member of your team.

Many salespeople are motivated by money. However, it isn’t necessarily most important to everyone. Some salespeople are motivated by opportunities to improve their situation, while others are motivated by public recognition.

In your style as a motivator, it’s your job to understand what drives your team (ask them) and then develop incentives around those motivators. So if a sales rep, for example, values career advancement or independence, give them more responsibility and authority as they demonstrate success and competence.

Style #4: Coach

To maximize sales results, a manager must ensure that their team is operating at a peak level, just like a sports team.

That’s where your coaching comes in. A management style based on Coaching is the time you spend 1:1 with your team members developing skills, knowledge or the use of strategies that will improve sales results. The most effective coaching takes place when you accompany the salesperson and observe what happens

Some common coaching attributes include collaborating with the salesperson to improve that person’s performance and asking questions instead of telling your team what to do.

Style #5: Trainer

In addition to being a coach, many situations also require you to be a master trainer.

For example, cases where you are rolling out a new product or sales process. Training can happen during your weekly sales meetings or more informally by having your team read blogs or watch sales training videos.

You may also want to organize formal or advanced sales training for your team.

Style #6: Recruiter

Great teams are only as good as their players, and in today’s economy, it’s incredibly challenging to hire great sales talent. Since the primary task of recruiting, hiring, and retaining the sales team falls on the sales manager.,you must always be in recruiting mode, even if you currently don’t have an open position.

Style #7: Role Model

The final style you must be able to adopt to be a great sales manager may be the most critical: role model.

If you want to manage, coach, and lead a sales team, you must earn their respect. The best way to do this is to diligently model the behaviors you want your team to emulate. Take the typical example of the sales manager who wants their team to start work early to reach customers in other time zones.

It’s one thing to ask your team to get to the office at 7:00 AM, but it is another to be the first one in the office and greet your team with coffee and donuts.

Many sales managers struggle in their role because they are not aware of the many different styles and approaches they must assume to be successful. Fortunately, many of the skills associated with these styles can be learned in a comprehensive sales management training program.

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About David Jacoby

As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.