Types of Sales Managers: Which is Right for You?

BY Kathy Crosett
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If you’re leading a large sales organization, you’ll have several types of sales managers working for you. Your product line sales manager oversees how well a specific brand is doing and usually tracks advertising, profit and feature changes. Your field sales managers recruit, train and develop the reps that they oversee. And you may also have another level of management, known as divisional or district sales reps.

What I’ve just described are some of the sales management roles in an organization. Each person in a sales management role also brings their unique behavioral or workplace tendencies to the organization. As these managers interact with their team members, they should be actively helping them increase sales and improve their skills.

Sales Manager Training

Most reps are not able to improve on their own. Their ability to measurably change their specific sales skills often depends on the type of sales manager they report to. The average sales manager has nine direct reports. And they spend only 9% of their time developing team members. The limited time they have can be optimized if you offer sales manager training.

Look at your sales managers through the lens of their behavioral and workplace tendencies. In these cases, you might run into some toxic issues. If a sales competency assessment shows that your manager is lost in the details of what their reps are doing or is too passive, you’ll need to ratchet up your sales management training to help them overcome some of these tendencies. You may also be able to personalize their training based on the types of sales managers you have in your department.

The Mentor

Mentoring “involves discovery of the self as a sales rep and as a person and is focused on that individual identity,” says Justin Zappulla. Some managers will more naturally fall into mentorship roles. Mentors may possess plenty of charisma, often developed during several years of being in the profession. Your junior reps may look up to these more seasoned staff members. They may even try to model themselves and their careers after their mentors. A mentoring sales manager may be able to do a better job of helping less experienced reps if they receive specific training on how to effectively coach.

Connector Managers

Gartner research shows that sales managers with the characteristics of a ‘connector’ are the most effective in the organization. These individuals drive “a clear, outsized positive impact on frontline performance.” How do these folks make such a difference?

Part of the answer to that question centers on a manager’s mindset. A connecter manager realizes they can be all things to all people. When they don’t have an answer to a problem one of their reps is having, they don’t try to solve the issue on their own. Instead, they cultivate relationships across the organization. They know who will have the answer. And they encourage the rep to reach out to that individual who may be in a difference department.

Connector managers also believe in the power of the team. Problem solving by the team remains a favorite strategy of connector managers. When the team works together to come up with solutions on how to handle a stubborn prospect, everyone benefits. They build knowledge and confidence together.

Types of Sales Managers

Regardless of the types of sales managers in your organization, your training must be effective. Review your materials to be sure they speak to all of your sales managers. Make the training accessible and encourage them to use this important resource.