Subscribe to Inc. magazine

How to Be an Extraordinary Sales Manager

Sales managers must play many different roles to ensure that the entire company succeeds.

Because selling is the most essential function of every company, there is no job more important than that of sales manager. Extraordinary sales managers play multiple roles, all of which are crucial to a firm's short-term and long-term success:

  1. Coach. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each individual on the sales team and expand each individual's ability to contribute to the overall sales effort.
  2. Teacher. Help sales team members to develop, not just their basic sales skills, but the business acumen required to understand larger business issues.
  3. Mentor. Use experience and perspective to guide the sales process, warn of potential problems and provide tactical assistance in specific sales situations.
  4. Politician. Marshal the internal resources, both inside and outside the sales team, that will be required to ensure that each opportunity proceeds apace.
  5. Communicator. Communicate clearly and consistency the needs of the sales team to other internal organizations, so that they can better support sales efforts.
  6. Prioritizer. Ensure that the most important opportunities get priority so that the company can use its limited resources wisely.
  7. Recruiter.  Continuously search out and interview individuals who might become top contributors to the sales efforts.
  8. Surgeon. Cull out non-performers so that they don't consume resources and bring the rest of the team down to their level.
  9. Fortune-teller. Balance historical data, wishful thinking, and gut feelings to create a sales forecast that approximates future sales.
  10. Conductor.  Coordinate sales and marketing messages so that, when customers listen to your firm, they always hear the same tune.
  11. Debriefer. Make certain that the entire company learns from both wins and losses, so that effective behaviors are repeated and ineffective ones are not.
  12. Diplomat. Share credit for both wins and losses among all contributing organizations, without creating either heroes or scapegoats.

Like this post? If so, sign up for the free Sales Source newsletter.

Last updated: Jun 12, 2013


Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: