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**Special Thanks to Brandon Barth, the Director of Sales at Graco for this guest blog post!**

In my 34 years in the painting business, I’ve come across many great Sales People and Sales Managers alike. While there are many personalities that can be successful at either, I have observed over the years that there are some “common traits” that the best of the best all have. Below is my simple juxtaposition between great Sales Managers and great Sales People. One point I want to make is that all great Sales People do not make great Sales Managers, but all great Sales Managers were once great Sales People. By no means am I claiming this to be an absolute, just my personal experience?

Attributes of Great Sales Managers (Top Performers)
  • They’re great team builders and skilled at getting teams to work in unison in order to reach strategically defined organizational goals.
  • They’re teachers and coaches that possess the ability to recognize individual beliefs, values, talent and positively develop each individual so that the entire team functions in unison.
  • They live what they teach, cultivating and commanding respect from their team.
  • They don’t “play favorites” with subordinates. They value transparency. The key is to be just and fair equally and with consistency. Never waiver.
  • They’re vision and plan focused. They’re responsible for developing, implementing, measuring and inspecting the company strategy. It’s all achieved through effective communication.
  • They never hesitate to deal with problems or issues. They are willing and able to make tough decisions and do not allow themselves to become average managers by neglecting problems or waiting for someone else to take action.
  • They view change as a healthy and important business dynamic. They do not fear change but embrace it and cultivate it from within. This keeps their team from getting entrenched in ruts and keeps them on their toes.
  • They exhibit an even keel of optimism. No huge highs of lows in times of great struggle or success.
  • They know more than just the numbers. They have and maintain current knowledge of the company’s products/services, the market(s) they serve and their competitive position.
Attributes of Great Sales People (Top Performers)
  • They’re great Territory Managers who work diligently in the pursuit of overachieving personal goals and metrics.
  • They’re effective listeners and coachable due to a burning desire to succeed.
  • They’re not afraid to learn from others and adapt what they’ve learned to their daily activities.
  • They’re primarily self-centered in terms of their approach to the business. They’re team players but personal success is what drives them. They all want to be #1 and embrace competition.
  • They’re primarily focused on implementation but possess the ability to see the big picture and specifically how and why they are important contributors.
  • They’re willing to deal with problems or issues. They’re good communicators and inform management of real but not perceived situations. They follow the following methodology in a timely manner: Get the facts>Document their own view of possible solutions>Communicate and seek consultation from their manager>Implement the solution even if they do not agree.
  • They often oppose change but if they see the value, they’ll become early adopters.
  • They often go through fairly dramatic swings in terms of highs and lows due to their intense competitive nature, but ultimately they put the lows behind them swiftly.
  • They’re relationship builders first, problem solvers/solution providers and possess and maintain a thorough knowledge of their Industry. Very customer-oriented.

In Summary, too many sales teams are over-managed. Expectations, metrics, and deadlines are all important but should not be the sole providers that drive results. Great Sales Managers use creative ways to be alongside their sales team to motivate and reward them in order to bring out the best in them. Great Sales Managers are protective of their time and time management. They understand that by having good personal time management habits they enable their sales teams to take advantage of their time by eliminating requests and demands that do not directly contribute to revenue generation.

All the best!

-Brandon Barth, Director of Sales, Graco Inc.

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