What is the Role of a Sales Manager

By Steven A. Rosen

I just had a conversation with a sales executive who asked me “what is the role of the sales manager?” This executive was frustrated by poor sales and felt that the sales managers could be doing more to meet sales objectives.

I agree that the sales manager’s goal is to meet or exceed sales objectives. On the other hand, the role of the sales manager is very different. The most successful sales managers understand that their success is based on the performance of their sales reps.

I believe that the role of the sales manager is to hire, develop and retain top sales people.

Hiring Top Sales People

Turnover, expansion and promotions continually create the need to hire new sales reps. Hiring is arguably the most important activity for the sales manager. The sales manager’s role is to ensure that they are hiring sales people who have the potential to be top sales performers.

Developing Sales People

Sales rep development is probably the most difficult part of the sales manager’s role. It requires great coaching skills and an ability to inspire your sales people to strive to improve their performance.

The development process requires ongoing investment in time both for the sales managers and the sales representative. Focused sales coaches work on developing 1-2 skills, competencies or behaviors with each sales rep. Sales rep coaching involves fine tuning of sales peoples performance.

The sales manager role is to develop/coach each of his reps to shift up the performance curve. If over the course of a year the sales manager has moved each of their sales reps from a B- to a B or and B to B+ performer they are doing a great job developing their sales people. Coaching the A++ sales people to be better is part of the development process.

Retaining Top Sales People

Lastly, by hiring sales people with high potential and developing each sales rep the sales manager must ensure sure that they retain their top sales people. Research shows that a majority of top performers that leave an organization will do so based on their relationship with their direct manager. The sales manager must focus on creating a high level engagement of their sales team. They should always be re recruiting their top sales people.

Sales managers must review their sales people and consider weeding out sales reps that are not coachable.


Sales managers that are solely focused on sales may deliver short term results. Sales managers who are adept at hiring, developing and retaining top sales people will have a far great likelihood of achieving long term sustainable results.

The moral of this blog is that sales executives who can clearly define the role of their sales managers will achieve greater sales success.

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