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Ten Qualities of a Winning Sales Manager

Don't make the same mistake many dealers make by automatically promoting your company's best salesperson to sales manager, unless he or she possesses the qualities necessary to manage, not just those qualities necessary to sell. The jobs are quite different.

There are ten basic qualities that all good sales managers possess. Fortunately, most can be learned. Here they are; make sure that if your current sales manager (or someone you are considering promoting to sales manager) doesn't currently possess these characteristics, he or she is actively working on developing them.

1. Likes people. If a sales manager is not people-oriented he or she doesn't have much of a chance of succeeding in this job.

2. Well organized. Organization is the foundation of just about everything in life. Without this skill, I strongly suggest that you provide your sales manager a secretary or assistant who is structured and possesses good organizational skills.

3. Sense of commitment. Talent falls through the cracks without commitment. I'd rather sacrifice almost anything than commitment; hold out for it. A committed manager will figure out a way to overcome adversity.

4. Strong desire for personal responsibility. Since sales managers are accountable for the results of the entire sales team, this trait is mandatory.

5. Persistent in pursuit of goals. Former President Calvin Coolidge said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

6. Bring out the best in people. Treat people not as they are, but as they are capable of being. Sales managers must care enough about their salespeople to help them reach their full potential. This is no easy task. A great sales manager must be skilled at slowly, but surely converting individual liabilities into assets.

7. Tolerance. Give your sales force permission to grow through honest mistakes.

8. Flexibility. Don't throw the same pitch to every batter. New situations call for different actions. If a sales manager wants different results, he or she must have the willingness to try different things.

9. Introspective. Be willing to see themselves as others see them. Effective sales managers must be willing to ask questions about their management style and be willing to listen to feedback from both their sales force and their supervisor.

10. Enthusiasm. All the studies by the Dale Carnegie organization indicate that enthusiasm is the number one characteristic for success in life.

Bill Lee is author of 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot ($21.95) and Gross Margin: 26 Factors Affecting Your Bottom Line ($29.95). Plus $6 S&H for the first book and $1 for each additional book. See Shopping Cart at