Do Salespeople Need Sales Managers?

The answer really depends on what you want your sales manager to do and what condition your salespeople are in. Are they young and inexperienced, mature and wizened, a combination of both, new to the industry? There are a fair number of variables.

In my opinion these three situations warrant not having a sales manager:

  • The sales group consists of true, sales professionals.
  • The sales group is made up of “mature, experienced salespeople” who tend to chew up and spit out younger managers.
  • The product is sold through rep groups or distributors.

How many companies have one of these three situations? I suspect not a majority. Most sales organizations consist of salespeople with different skill sets, ranging from the sales stud or studette to the somewhat experienced salesperson to the newbie fresh from college or some beginning sales position. Each one of these groups needs something different from the sales manager. The pros need some recognition, the average reps need coaching on how to become professionals and the newbies require the sales version of marine basic training.

A good sales manager will travel with the pro and take him or her to an upscale golf course for a freebie day of golf and no sales. While the manager is at it, drop off some really nice wine at the rep’s house before leaving town. The average rep needs a manager that is good at coaching and teaching the art of sales. The green horn needs equal doses of training, encouragement, reality checks, and small whacks upside the head! Figuratively speaking of course.

In general, I would say that salespeople need sales managers, not as sales cops but as solid mentors who know what approach to take for specific types of reps.

The Final Word: Sales managers are equal parts cop, catalyst, counselor, “cajoler” and captain.


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