What are the ingredients to a successful sales managers recipe? Is it hitting targeted sales quotas, building a roster, developing relationships with clients? Yes, it is, it’s all of the above and more, but what activities help successful sales managers reach these goals? As I’ve said more than once, you cannot do a goal you must do activities to effect change. Here are 17 activities successful sales managers embrace.

17 Activities Successful Sales Managers Embrace


A coach develops players and molds them into a team. They do this by understanding the needs of individual teammates and giving them the tools to succeed. “One of my mantras is that you manage projects and lead people. I guess if we’re talking about managing versus coaching it would read you manage the game but coach players. Are you doing both in your workplace?” — When to Coach and When to Manage


Successful sales managers understand training isn’t a one and done proposition but is a continuous process geared to individual learning styles. “Too many trainers only teach how they learn. Too often, when a trainee does not grasp the information, we think less of them (What are you … stupid?). Consider the question, “How do I adjust my training to their learning style?” — How not to Train


The best managers give their team the direction they need to succeed. “Mission statements share what a business stands for—their overall goals. Vision statements address how a company will achieve the mission by sharing direction and strategies. A Statement of Purpose should clarify why the mission is important, by communicating the purpose of the organization’s mission.” — Why Your Business Needs a Statement of Purpose


Sales managers who get the job done have their teammates backs, and by doing so develop a team of loyalist who will do what it takes to get the job done. “Don’t confuse project management with leadership. Projects are managed—people are led. Leaders lead people. It’s that simple. And it’s that complicated. To lead people, one must care about people.” —  Leaders Go to Bat for their People—Do you?

Hold People Accountable

No one has ever been helped by being allowed to fail. Good managers know this and understand accountability is a form of help. According to a Harvard Business Review Report, 46% of managers are terrible at holding staff accountable; One out of every two managers is terrible at accountability. I’m surprised. I thought it would be higher. I’ve seldom seen managers good at accountability, including me, for most of my management career.

Follow up

Whether it’s training, customer service, or delegation, managers know that follow up is a major key to completing tasks successfully, especially with new employees. “New employees make up their mind to leave your organization sooner than you think—some make the decision on their first day. The best way to find out where a trainee stands is to ask them. At the end of the first day sit down one on one and ask about their day. Ask what wasn’t as they expected, what questions they have, and where they need help. Take a minute and ask for their input and opinions. Don’t wait 90 days for a follow-up, 90 days is too late. Check in with new team members at least once a week; once a day is better.” —   Your Best Employee Retention Plan

Set Goals

Rather than focus on results, the best sales managers set goals based on activities. “If you want goals taken seriously, it starts with the team leader. A team leader must take goals seriously. Serious goals are researched, analyzed, written, reviewed, re-read, and shared. It’s not easy, it’s time-consuming, and a lot of thought must be put into it.” — 6 Ingredients of a Goal

Share a Vision

People who share a vision are more focused on the outcome than those without. Good managers share a vision for the team as well as the individual. It starts by creating a vision that fits your culture. Where is your organization going? What’s down the road? Do you see and recognize every possibility? I ask because so many leaders get stuck in the trenches and find it difficult to see the forest for the trees. So, maybe it’s time to bring in the cavalry. Ask a couple of loyal and valued employees, ask a mentor, enlist a vendor, seek out local businesspeople you respect, and form a vision team. Because you never know what they may see in your future.

Motivate and inspire

Motivation isn’t one size fits all, effective sales managers know this and take the time to learn the individual motivators of their team members. The first key to motivating anyone is to understand WHAT motivates him or her; too often, well-intentioned leaders attempt motivating their team with what works for the leader. What motivates the leader seldom motivates every individual on a team. And to complicate matters, motivational factors change.


Action plans, training, and goals need reviewed. Most leadership initiatives are fluid they aren’t constant therefore they require continuous review.


The best managers spend time with their team watching them in action and using their observations to recognize positive behavior or as a training opportunity.


Effective managers act as a liaison between departments, vendors, and customers.

Hire Character

The managers who rise above the crowd learn that character is more important than skill when developing a team and hire for character first. I believe experience and knowledge are useless, if not destructive, without character. Hiring for character takes a tremendous amount of work. It’s so much easier to hire for experience because it reduces the need for training. Consider whether some of your best employees are people who came to you with little or no experience. Have you worked with experienced and knowledgeable people who caused problems due to poor character? Here’s an example of hiring for character. —   The Rockettes, Your Business, and Recruiting for Character

Set an Example

Setting an example doesn’t always mean doing the work it means approaching every activity with the same integrity, work ethic, and discipline that you expect from your team.


Managers who are in tune with their team recognize positive behavior, milestones, and victories. “One of the best ways to encourage repetition of positive behaviors is to recognize those behaviors.” — How Recognizing Employees Helps your Organization

Share Mistakes

Teaching a team, the pitfalls to avoid as well as the mistakes you’ve made might be more important than sharing your successes.

Pick One of the 17 Activities Successful Sales Managers Embrace

Above are 17 actions that successful leaders use to develop and direct a team. I have a challenge for you. Pick one to improve. Not five, one. If you have more than one to work on, then pick them off one at a time. If you think you are following all 17, then pick one to take from good to great. Have fun.

Are You in Sales Management?

Are you leading people or managing projects? Do you set goals based on activities to continue, eliminate, or improve or do you strictly look at the results? Do you believe one sales strategy fits all your clients and all your sales team? If so, you’re walking the streets I paved, and those streets lead to disappointment. The good news is if you recognize these behaviors in yourself, you can change. I did. I eventually became a highly effective sales manager and so can you. This workbook is the place to start. The New Sales Managers Workbook

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