Sales Management Competence Model

Essential sales manager competencies for assessment, selection, and development.

Diagram depicting aspects of Sales competence and sales competencies.

If you are interested in using a sales manager competence model, use the twenty two sales manager competencies summarised below test job candidates, conduct training needs analysis, or audit sales management practices.

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Twenty Two Aspects of Sales Management Competence:

Diagram showing scores for sales manager competencies.

1. Answering Common Customer Questions

Setting an example and providing leadership is reflected in a manager's ability to answer important customer questions.

There are six common questions that buyers have in mind when considering new purchases or suppliers.

Managers who use good answers inspire confidence, lead by example, and help their team members communicate with more credibility and confidence.

2. Market and Industry Understanding

Managers who have expert knowledge of the market and industry that they operate in, find it easier to maintain or improve the same knowledge in their staff.

By being an expert, they inspire those around them to increase their expertise. Expert market and industry understanding helps salespeople develop important contacts and recognise worthwhile opportunities. It helps them establish credibility, communicate value, and develop trust.

3. Customer and Prospect Understanding

Managers who understand business and in particular, the types of business their staff are selling to can inspire staff to adopt the same diligence in their dealings with specific customers. Ability to persuade depends on understanding. Knowing how a customer’s business works helps salespeople position the value they offer and acquire trusted advisor status. Those with such knowledge are in a much better position to have candid conversations with salespeople about qualification and forecasting issues.

4. Company Understanding

Managers who know their company's goals, objectives, strategy, needs, strengths, and weaknesses understand the capabilities and resources available to address the market opportunities and are better placed to guide staff.

5. Selecting the Right Salespeople

Those who are able to choose the right salespeople, significantly reduce dependence on most other sales manager competencies.

6. Setting the Right Expectations

People who know precisely what is expected of them, in terms of behaviour as well as results, are more likely to achieve the desired outcomes.

7. Affecting Motivation

Rewards and payments aside, people do things for their own reasons. Ability to leverage Intrinsic motivators enables managers to affect motivation without spending money.

8. Inspiring Development

The only lasting source of competitive advantage is to get better faster than competitors. This applies to soft skills and methods just as much to products and service.

9. Change Management

Change is inevitable. Creating a work environment where staff embrace change and take advantage of it, is an important aspect of success.

10. Choosing the Right Management Style

Good communication skills are a foundation stone of management. This applies as much to listening as it does to speaking. Many aspects of effective management depend on ability to discover information before it is publicly available.

11. Managing Performance

The real test comes when performance is behind target. Bullying tactics and threats are almost always counterproductive. Managers need to arrange things so that they get an advanced warning when any aspect of sales performance is weakening. They need to know the factors that impact sales performance and be able to influence them.

12. Motivating Admonishment

No manager can remain effective for long without needing to admonish behaviour or performance. Poorly done, admonishment makes things worse. Correctly done, it strengthens relationships as well as correcting the misalignment.

13. Managing Opportunity Qualification

Doing things right is a waste of time if those selling don’t first choose the right things to do. Qualification has a substantial impact on success. Managers who improve qualification, increase results.

14. Managing Forecast Accuracy

Apart from an accurate forecast being essential for good business management, is also helps a manager marshal resources to maximise results.

15. Managing the Sales Process

Using a system or method that has proved effective elsewhere provides a benchmark for measuring progress and a common language for communicating internally. Frameworks and checklists help people avoid mistakes and develop better methods.

16. Understanding Strategy

Since managers are almost always directly involved in the higher value opportunities and such deals almost always depend on the work of several people, understanding strategy gives a sales manager a considerable advantage.

17. Understanding Politics in Organisations

As for strategy, higher value deals almost always involve numbers of people in a customer's organisation and consequently higher value decisions are almost always entangled with an organisations politics. Understanding politics in customer organisations gives a sales manager a considerable advantage.

18. Dealing with Obstacles

Traditional selling skills remain an important among in a sales manager competence model because it is sometimes necessary to lead from the front. This may entail demonstrating objection handling, negotiation, and closing skills.

19. Pipeline Management

If marketing activities don't generate enough leads and enquiries, salespeople must be able to find their own. Effective and efficient prospecting can make all the difference when business is hard to come by. Managers who can help staff overcome these challenges are less likely to suffer from a dwindling pipeline.

20. Managing Meetings

Motivating internal meetings are a boon that builds motivation and momentum. Badly managed internal meetings have the opposite effect.

21. Organisation and Time Management

Making good use of the time available is an important part of management success.

22. Self-Development

In a competitive market, sales managers must continuously increase productivity just to keep pace with competitors. In the same way, they must continuously improve their personal capability or be left behind.

23. Work Motivators

An understanding of intrinsic and extrinsic motivaton, informs decisions and improves communication. Manager competencies should include knowledge of the factors that drive behaviour and an ability to use their knowledge to motivate team members.

If you need a customised model of sales manager competencies, a sales manager assessment tool, or sales management training, we can help. Telephone +44 (0)1392 851500. We will be pleased to learn about your needs and talk through some options. Send email to for a prompt reply or use the contact form here.