Modern Sales Managers
The role of a sales manager in the modern company has changed. Instead of the demanding, controlling, volume-oriented sales manager. The modern and successful sales managers is a team leader rather than a boss to the sales people. The sales manager directs and advises salespeople by working with them and giving them necessary authority to take decisions. Some of the important changes in the roles of the modern sales manager, explained below:
- Playing a strategic role – Modern sales managers gives key inputs for developing long term company marketing and sales plan, such as sales forecasting, sales-force management, evolving sales and marketing strategies, implementing and controlling sales budget.
- Working as member of the corporate team – They work as member to achieve objectives such as customer satisfaction, sales growth, and market share
- Working as team leader – Modern sales managers co-ordinate with the sales people to achieve the objectives or goals of sales and profits
- Managing multiple sales channels – Such as company’s sales-force, electronic (Or online) marketing and telemarketing.
- Using latest technologies – Modern sales managers have inclination towards technology to build superior buyer-seller relationships.
- Continually updating information – Modern sales managers keep updating themselves and understands the changes in marketing environment like customer’s business, competitor’s strategies and tactics, government regulations and technological changes.
Modern Sales Managers Skills
There must be critical skills which is mandate for the success of sales managers:
- People skills – The people skills includes the sales manager’s ability to motivate, lead, communicate, and co-ordinate effectively with the people around him/her. The ability to develop team oriented relationship is important. With respect to salespeople, the sales manager should understand their individual needs and skills, and carry out coaching or mentoring to improve performance.
- Managing skills – For managing the sales force, the sales manager should have administrative or managing skills like planning, organizing, controlling and decision making. These skills can be learnt by attending management development programs.
- Technical skills – These are specific tasks or functions such as training, selling, negotiating as well as the ability to use computers (or information technology skills) and problem solving abilities in the specific industry discipline. Not to mention but sound technological skills is equally important.
Types of Sales Managers
Furthermore, structure of many organizations, several levels or positions are involved in sales management. The title “Sales manager” ( or field sales manager) may be applied to any sales executive who manages sales people. There are broadly three levels of sales managers in the organizational hierarchy:
Top level (Strategic) Sales managers
The highest level in sales management is often called vice president( Sales), or general manager (sales), or national sales manager. They are responsible for long term marketing or sales sales planning, including scanning external environment, setting long term and short term objectives and goals, developing strategies for achieving them, making decisions for implementing strategies and action plans. They are also a part of top management team for the organization’s strategic planning as well as co-ordination between various functional areas.
Middle level (Tactical) Sales managers
These positions mostly carry the title of regional, zonal, or divisional sales managers. Their responsibility are to manage several branches or districts reporting them. They also implement the strategies and action plans approved by the top management. Such organizations use cross-functional team selling for high sales potential customers.
First line (Operational) Sales managers
This is the first level of sales management with titles such as branch sales managers, area sales managers, or district sales managers. They are directly responsible to achieve sales goals and objectives by providing day to day supervision to sales people. They implement the procedures and rules decided by higher levels of management.
Staff sales management positions
In most medium and large sized organizations, there are staff managerial positions, which arrange assistance or help to the line sales managers and the sales people. Sales training manager, customer service manager, or sales co-ordination manager are some of the examples of staff sales management positions. It is important to understand that these staff managers. They have an advisory role and that they do not have a line authority on line sales managers and the sales-force.
Sales as career
Many people find their career opportunity in sales and marketing in the first place. Being competent and skillful both are equally important. Generally, Sales job offers more than any other area of marketing. Reason being, each product or service has to be sold by a sales person either to a household consumers, a manufacturing firm, an intermediary like a distributor or a retailer, an institution or a college, or to a government organization like railways.
Typically a college graduate enters sales career as a sales trainee, and then advances to a sales representatives position. Deciding on his/her performance, the career path may take like senior sales person to sales supervisor or area sales managers, which is the first line sales manager’s position. After this, the advances in career could be in the middle level and top level sales managers.
However, a person has completed a post graduate diploma or degree ( PGDM/MBA) program in management, his/her growth in sales and marketing management would be faster as compared to a college graduate, after serving for a couple of years in the initial sales positions and even the first position can be sales executive, marketing executive or area sales manager.
Sales Executive to Sales Manager
In most companies, the path to career in sales management starts from the positions of a sales representative. Most companies want to have a person who is good in selling as well as in managing sales people. The qualities required for a good sales manager are very much different from those needed by a sales person. Most companies do consider top performing sales people, when a vacancy for the first line sales develops. Some of the important qualities to look for in selecting a person for the position of a area sales managers from a group of sales people are as follows:
- An ability to be a team player
- Discipline in work habits like punctual in attending meetings, customer appointments.
- An ability to manage a team and good communication skills
- Selling skills – Good in selling product, services, or ideas.
- Well balanced person with controlled self esteem.
After the right person is selected for the position of a front lines sales managers, it is important that the selected person is given a short training on sales management, because the person should be made aware of the changes that takes place due to promotion to the position of sales manager from the position of a sales person.
Few of the changes are:
Change in goals/objectives
A sales manager achieves organization’s or territory’s goals and objectives. Sales person tries to achieve personal goals of sales volume, sales calls, customer satisfaction and so on.
Change in responsibilities
The major responsibilities of a sales managers are sales administration work, including managing sales people reporting to him/her. The major responsibility of a sales person is selling.
Change in views
A sales person sees his job as completing certain activities given by the superiors. However, a sales manager views his job as completing the activities pertaining to his territory effectively in order to achieve the goals or objectives of the sales territory as well as organizational goals.
Change in skills requirement
A sales person needs to have selling, negotiation and communication skills. In addition to these skills, a sales manager must have managerial skills. They are planning, directing , motivating, training, and contriving sales people.
Change in relationships
A sales person needs to have a good relationship with customers, peers and superior. Furthermore, when the salesperson gets promoted to the position of a sales manager. As a matter of fact, He has to develop new relationship with other managers, subordinates, who were his former peers and his new superiors.
I hope this article added value. You are welcome to comment with suggestions in addition.