Sales Manager: tasks, skills, attitudes

The Sales Manager is a key figure within companies: in an ever-changing market, it is becoming increasingly necessary to manage sales aspects effectively, not only in terms of transactions but also in terms of planning and goal setting.

Who is the Sales Manager

The Sales Manager is responsible for the sales department. His or her objective is to maximize sales of the company’s products/services and to achieve commercial objectives, from turnover to market share to the acquisition/ retention of a certain number of customers.

If, in fact, it is important to always find new and potential buyers (prospects), it is equally important to establish a lasting and trusting relationship with them, ensuring that, over time, they will continue to turn to the company in the request for eventual, further services, products or services.

What the Sales Manager does

As head of the sales department, the Sales Manager is responsible for managing the company’s sales plan: he or she defines the objectives, the strategies for achieving them, the targets and the budgets to be invested. Within the company, he is therefore a central figure in sales management.

Experienced sales managers are often entrusted with managing sales teams, whose performance is central to achieving their objectives, which focus mainly on the implementation of sales in specific geographical areas and the development of efficient distribution networks.

Where the Sales Manager works

The Sales Manager works mainly for private companies, but it also happens to meet this figure within the Public Administration, where, although trade is not the main function, there are various activities that are managed by similar figures:

from interfacing with tender offices to manage contracts or participation in calls for tenders to managing the customers of a specific division to interfacing with the network of territorial branches and defining companies in the reference sector to which to propose their services.

The sales manager is therefore an expendable figure in many realities that need a strategic role, but also an interface, capable of managing relations with customers and/or partners and acting as a problem solver in the most diverse situations.

How to Become a Sales Manager

The Sales Manager’s training is of a commercial nature: no specific path is required, but if one opts for a university faculty, the three-year and master’s degree courses in Economics and Business in the Schools of Management and Economics are the most suitable.

Training, however, is only the starting point on which the Sales Manager’s career is built, to which one must add an apprenticeship in Sales Marketing and continuous refresher courses, due to the extreme dynamism of this profession and the constantly evolving “customer needs”.

Sales Manager Skills

The Sales Manager is a versatile figure, who must possess skills in several areas.

Flexibility and interpersonal skills are the first qualities required of those wishing to enter this profession, to which must be added programming and planning skills, without which it would be impossible to manage a company’s sales plan.

To sell, you know, you need to know how to interface with your customers, to be convincing without ever being intrusive, and above all to be able to win the trust of your interlocutor, making him or her participate in the actions you decide to take and acting almost more like a consultant than a salesman.

To manage a sales team, it is also necessary to have excellent leadership skills and to understand the level of performance, one cannot lack the ability to analyze results.

Finally, the Sales Manager is a person who is extremely curious and attentive to change, able to foresee trends and adapt accordingly, also making the right updates to his or her own way of working.

The Sales Manager: natural talent or just lots of practice?

Given these premises, the question arises: are these innate qualities, or can anyone become a Sales Manager through study and lots of practice? Let’s be honest: a bit of DNA is required, as in all professions.

One must, on the other hand, recognize that one hardly aspires to such a profession without having the right inclination. The Sales Manager is an unabashedly relational figure, works towards objectives, and spends his days creating plans and strategies.

It is quite rare that people with a shy, reserved character and who like to work by being inspired more than by concrete objectives aspire to such a role. They would feel inadequate and perhaps even be a little inadequate.

It is different for those who would approach this job precisely to improve their interpersonal skills, those who do not wallow in their shyness but experience it as a limitation, or even those who experience their poor organizational skills as an area they would like to perfect.

In these cases, the desire to improve oneself could take over and the path to acquiring technical skills would be accompanied by work on oneself that could only be beneficial in the long run. As if to say, you can also become a Sales Manager but provide one is prepared to question oneself.

The Digital Sales Manager

The Digital Sales Manager is the one who manages sales and strategies via web channels. He/she therefore deals with Digital Sales, i.e. studies and implements sales processes supported by online channels.

He must have a solid foundation in digital selling and social selling techniques. Obviously also in this case there is contact with the buyer, but unlike the traditional salesperson, the digital sales manager chooses a very precise moment in the customer journey to get to know his potential buyer and initiate a relationship of trust.

The digital sales manager works according to even more targeted strategies than traditional methods, because thanks to digital tools it is possible to create even more precise performance indices and monitor performance on an ongoing basis.

It can also automate many processes and profile its customers. Through the study of keywords, the Digital Sales Manager is able to intercept consumer searches, hence their needs, and propose the most suitable solution for the type of request.

Obviously, he will work within the marketing funnel, dedicating the point of contact with the customer only to those who are in the “hottest” areas of the process, thereby optimizing time and resources.

Career Opportunities for Sales Managers in the digital environment

The Digital Sales Manager is one of the professions of the future, as the demand for people who are able to use online to sell is increasingly high. The profession, after all, represents an evolution from the past, so the forecasts are that demand will grow more and more.

Since technical skills are the first thing one needs to equip oneself with, proper training cannot be divorced from the ambition to take on this role. It is necessary to have a broad knowledge of digital marketing, trying to train horizontally in all disciplines and then specializing in a specific one.

A course in Digital Sales to learn how to use these tools, therefore, becomes indispensable.

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