The skills required by a Sales Manager are in many respects the same as those needed by Managers in other functions, but the environment of the selling situation means that these skills must be applied to people who are working on their own in a harshly competitive situation. This means that the Sales Manager’s job is, in many ways, more challenging and more difficult than any other.
The purpose of this document is to establish and explain the basic skills required by first-line Sales Managers. It is intended to be relevant to all those who have direct control of a group of Sales People. This group could cover a district, an area, or indeed the whole country.
By examining in detail the job of Sales Manager, we can identify the following areas in which they must be fully competent:
  • Communication
  • Organisation and Control
  • Training
  • Developing Futrue Potential
  • Motivation


Real, down-the-line communication means briefing the Salespeople, not only on what they have got to do, but on the reasons for doing it: giving them the full picture and the Company’s objectives.

However, communication must be a two-way process and the Manager must use his/her Salespeople as the Company’s eyes and ears in the field. Communicating both to the Sales Team and to Head Office, the Manager acts as the vital link between the two, interpreting each to the other.


The Sales Manager must organise and control their Sales Team.

Organising: using their resources of people, time and money in such a way as to achieve the objectives they have set. The Manager organises the Sales Team both in their day to day tactics and in matters of broad strategy. The Manager is ready to provide any research or administrative back-up they need. The Manager knows, however, that organisation is of little use without control.

Controlling: means examining and analysing results to determine where objectives are not being met – and why. The necessary corrective action is then taken. This corrective action can often take the form of training.


Most sales training is carried out by the Sales Manager when they accompany the Salesperson on calls. To train effectively in this way, when calling on a customer jointly with one of their team, the Manager must allow the Salesperson to take control. Afterwards they can jointly discuss any weaknesses that appeared and agree on what action to take.

It is only by constant training in the field that the Manager can maintain the effectiveness of the Sales Team – whether face to face with the customer, or in details of administration and organisation. Training in the field should be continuous: this is where the inexperienced person can learn what selling is all about, and where the most experienced can be helped to correct bad habits and overcome new problems.


By guiding and helping each person to realise their full potential, the Manager ensures for the Company a succession of trained people ready for posts of responsibility. Also, the Manager helps each person towards a rewarding and worthwhile future. However, not everyone can get the top jobs, and development can sometimes include helping people to realise their own limitations, or curbing their impatience for promotion.


Motivating the Sales Team is one of the most important responsibilities of a Sales Manager.

An individual is motivated by many things. Some of these are supplied by the Company – such as financial reward, security and status. Others by the type of work being undertaken – job satisfaction, achievement, competition and so on. But, some motivation must come from the immediate Manager. The Manager must show continuing interest and concern. This means encouraging the Salesperson who is down and also acknowledging the achievement of the person who does well. The Manager must also balance the need for individual motivation with the needs of the team. The Manager must motivate their Sales Team to work harmoniously together. How? By being fair and by being seen to be fair.

The Manager who shows interest, concern and commitment to their team – as individuals and as a group – is the one for whom they will make an extra effort.

Motivating goes on all the time. It is not just something to be done for half an hour every Thursday and Friday.