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What is the most important soft skill for someone pursuing a career in sales managing?

My name is Tyler, I am in 12th grade at Pioneer Valley Regional School in Western Massachusetts. In my money managing class we are doing a unit to help widen our range of possible careers to pursue in college. As a result of my research and career quizzes, a potential career that came up for me was sales managing. The most common description for the job was mainly hard skills, so as a result I wanted to know which soft skills were most important. #business-management #sales #sales-management #personal-development


Listening is the most important part of sales. Matt Clayton

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Patrick’s Answer

Listening is a great and underused skill. Do not try to answer the question before the person has finished talking. Do not try and show you are the smartest in the room by talking the most. Listening allows others to share their questions and opinions. Leaders listen first and help others come up with the best answers.

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Jess’s Answer

Great responses thus far! When I think of exceptional, and effective, sales managers that I've had in my career...the best of the best are the managers that intrinsically motivate their teams to work for them. Rather than setting hard lines and micro-managing every responsibility - exceptional managers lead by example, set a high baseline of performance by being high and motivating performances themselves. You walk out of a meeting with them and think to yourself "Wow, that person is so smart and so successful, I want that for my career, and you know what - it seems like that person wants to help me get there too!" Great managers look out for their team, genuinely, and do what they can do help you succeed. They protect upper management criticism, they are transparent about what does and does not matter within the job, and they answer questions in a way that doesn't make you feel stupid for asking. They recognize and give recognition where it's deserved, and help pick up your business when it's hitting a lul.


Keep in mind that to get to sales management - you'll need to be a sales representative first. The role is much different and hands on with each client but will also enable you to understand your sales teams every day responsibilities etc to make for a successful sales manager.


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Jennay’s Answer

Before becoming a Sales Manager, you will likely be a Salesperson first. If you have management in mind for the future, I recommend being an extra observant student while on the front lines. Many sales managers (myself included sometimes) can become removed from the day-to-day experience of selling, and the best sales coaches and managers are still acutely aware of the challenges of those under them. Some suggestions to keep in mind:

- What is the hardest thing about sales for you? Is it the same for your colleagues and others, or is it different? It's never too early to start thinking about how you would teach and manage someone through challenges, even if you are still new yourself.

- Take note of the sales leaders above you. What would you do similarly or differently if you were in their shoes?

- Try and think as a business leader, not just a salesperson. Many salespeople only think about the factors that impact them personally: their territories, their prospects, their commission. When you see changes or unpopular decisions being made, don't be afraid to ask about the business reasons behind them, and study up on the topics that you aren't yet familiar with.

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Stephen’s Answer

Really great responses thus far. Emotional Intelligence is critical for management roles but also in general! Empathy as well which in many cases is ingrained in Sales Managers from their time as Sales Reps/Account Managers. It helps when you've been managed as a sales person and you understand what is important for you to be successful. As many have said, the hard part is managing to each of your people's unique traits, motivations and strengths. My team went through a day of consulting around DISC, a training hub really designed to understand and assess personality and behavior. You assess where you fit on the DISC profile chart. D is for a more dominant style, I is for a more influencing style, S is for a more steady style and C is for a more conscientiousness style. You see where you fit and then eventually are more understanding of where each of your team members fit. This really helps in managing because everyone has different styles and beliefs and motivations which can help you as you manage each member of your team to maximize their success and productivity. There is a free and a "fee" version with the latter getting you a more granular read on your style (ie free version slates people as D or an I but with the "Everything DISC" version you will or could be slotted as a Di or another combination. Last offer is to be honest in all your professional (and clearly personal) relationships. If your team can rely on your consistent and honest feedback, it creates a very safe place for them to be vulnerable and ultimately you build great trust which is I think the most important factor in managing people and being managed.

Stephen recommends the following next steps:

Check out DISC and see where you end up on the scale

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Gina’s Answer

There are so many incredible responses here; clearly there are many soft skills that are important in sales management. One thing I didn't hear was the importance of winning the hearts and minds of your people. You can do this through different means and leveraging different soft skills; i.e. having empathy, listening, having emotional intelligence, being vulnerable & transparent, and building trust.

Once you've put in the foundational work to build the needed trust to win the hearts and minds of your people, everything else becomes easier as a sales manager. They'll trust to confide in you when they're struggling with something, work related or personal. This allows you to provide real time coaching and get ahead of any performance issues. If their performance does dip and tough conversations need to happen, they'll know you're invested in their success and the conversation shifts to a partnership building a plan to get back on track, instead of a reprimand.

Gina recommends the following next steps:

Build your emotional intelligence.
Read - Multipliers & How to Win Friends and Influence People

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Alexandra’s Answer

Hi Tyler,

That’s a great question and you’ve got some great responses here. What I would recommend is emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence can be a great asset that sets top performers apart from everyone else. It’s a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with a great result.

The EI helps how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.

Helpful not only in your career path to be successful and become what you want, but in your personal life as well.


Alexandra recommends the following next steps:

I recommend having a read of Daniel Goleman’s book : Emotional Intelligence

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Jordan’s Answer

Fantastic question! I have been in sales management for a few years now, and I think the most important soft skill is leading with empathy. I believe in hiring diverse candidates, and ultimately that means that I am managing folks from all different types of backgrounds, with different personalities, and different needs. In order to be most effective, I find it hugely important to create psychologically safe spaces to ensure that all of my employees feel welcome at work. If my team feels like they belong, then they want to come to work, they want to perform well, and they are more likely to succeed! I find myself sharing personal stories about myself and my life and my background; this makes me seem more human to my employees, which results in trust (which again leads to high performance and general happiness in their work life).


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Tania’s Answer

Empathy! to your employees and to your customers!

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Adam’s Answer

Good sales managers understand people and prospective buyers... and understand how to both allow for freedom for their employees while still enforcing standards. Often times sales managers start out in presales/ market development roles, then move into sales for a while, and ultimately end up in sales management. Note my experience is based in enterprise software sales


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Tricia’s Answer

Be curious about your client, validate what you think you know about the client’s business (how it works, how they make money, how they interface with their end customers, for example), share how you can help (your product, service, etc.), be honest (don’t over promise and under deliver. A client will appreciate your honesty and more often than not buy from people they trust have their best interest in mind), be accountable, and like able. Clients buy from people they like and trust.

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Sharon’s Answer

Tyler there are so many 'soft skills' in sales management. I have been in sales for over 20 years. I sort of fell into it. Number one is getting along with all types of people. I think having a passion for helping people be successful, whether they are someone on your sales team or a customer, when your attitude is a win win solution, you will do well. This is not something really learned in school though. It is a trait/attitude you can develop over time. Some other important things are problem solving skills, relating to others well (I recommend working in customer facing jobs like hospitality, retail or restaurants while in school.) Customer service experience will help develop these things. I studied economics in college but any business type degree is a fit for sales. Business acumen is also important to develop as you work and go through school. A few other things are to be self motivated and driven. Never be the sales rep your manager has to baby sit. Be the team leader by example and you will work into management and up if you desire. I can tell you from someone who never thought of going into sales while in high school or college it was a very good fit and I have found it personally rewarding. Pays well too.


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Cathy’s Answer

Leadership positions I've encountered have been gained by through two paths - Lead by Fear or Lead by Example. I've been in a leadership position for 20+ years and the most successful trait/soft skill is having People Skills. As you start of in sales, it's a responsibility to know your product, be able to explain the benefits to match customer's interests and close the sale - all individual responsibilities. When you are in a management position, just because your business card has 'Manager' on it, doesn't guarantee your team's respect/trust. Empathizing, coaching, developing, listening and having a balance of caring/candor are the keys to your staff's respect. Being honest, explaining the why behind the what, and leading by example is what gains their trust. Gain the trust and respect of your team and you will have a well oiled machine at work.

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Cindy’s Answer

Lots of great answers here. I would also add the knack for building a great team, understanding what motivates the individuals and building team camaraderie. You should have charisma, emotional intelligence and recognize positive results in a big way while also holding everyone accountable to their goals.

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Holley’s Answer

Great question! I agree with what others have said. I'd also add that organization is key. Anytime you're managing multiple people and projects, you want to make sure you're organized and on top of things. Leadership will often check in to see how people are doing or how projects are going and you want to make sure you can quickly and accurately provide an update.


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Chris’s Answer

Some great answers in here.

If you want to pursue a career in managing , you must have the heart for it. Managing is not about "being the boss". You must take greater pleasure in the success of those you lead than you take in your own. They must come first. Your job is to help them understand what needs to be done (help them define what success looks like and the steps to get there), then to help remove obstacles and coach them along the way. Your success is entirely dependent upon theirs.


You could have every other skill and attribute out there, but your success will be limited by where your heart is. The people on your team will know whether or not you have their best interest at heart. If they know you do, your job gets a whole lot easier.

Chris recommends the following next steps:

Read the book, "The Speed of Trust" by Steven M. R. Covey. One of the best books I've read in a while to help understand the dynamics of leading a team.

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Michael’s Answer

Emotional Intelligence and Adaptability are probably the most important soft skills you can begin to master at any age.
That includes
-Situational awareness
- Emotional awareness

Know where you are and who you are talking and respond accordingly.

When you are in certain situations take a moment to think about the different ways you can respond and the reaction you could potentially get from each type of response. For me, showing empathy and then setting expectations has always been useful.

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Dom’s Answer

Assuming your role is primarily sales management then the following are the most important soft skills for the role
>Listening - In order to understand your direct reports, i.e. challenges, goals, motivations, skills, weaknesses
>Relationship building - In order to build trust
>Empathy - Sales is a tough job and understanding and being able to relate is crucial
>Coaching - Being able to help people be successful
>Development - Helping others reach their goals through personal growth
>Communication Skills - Ability to share your viewpoint

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Capria’s Answer

This is an awesome question and is something that is often overlooked by both those entering the field and those hiring in the field. The biggest soft skill I use is being personable. By being personable I mean a few things, the first is showing empathy. Let your team know that you are listening to them and that you understand what it is they are relaying. Support your team. Let them know that you have their back always, even if it is something they may not be correct on let them know that in the public eye you have their back and that in private is when you will correct them and help them to become better. It is also important to lead by example. If you are upholding your team to a set of standards it is important that you hold yourself to the same standards or even higher standards.

I hope these help a little!

Capria

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Maria’s Answer

Hello there!

Being part of the management team means you have to deal with people, therefor you need to be able to listen, show empathy on occasion, make them feel they are important and they do matter (they are not just a number).

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William’s Answer

Hi there,

the most powerful skill is active listening. Showing that you are acknowledging the comments with the person you are speaking with creates instant connection. This can be done in several ways: Eye contact, active expressions like shaking your head in agreement, and summarizing what the person was saying .

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Rainie’s Answer

Hugely great answers here, I don't have much to add. I really find the main traits to further yourself in sales is to:
1) Listen to what the customer wants. Don't try to push the biggest dollar. You'll have return customers if they trust that you're doing right by them.
2) Being able to relate easily to people, and describe things so they understand. For example, I sell travel insurance. Each sale, I need to adapt to the customer whether they're brand new to even the idea of travel insurance, or if maybe they're well versed in the policies. Treat each sale personally.
3) If you're not necessarily directly selling, but managing only - you'll want to be empathetic. It's realizing that even each employee is different and may have different selling techniques. Work together! Team work!


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Barbara’s Answer

I believe the most important skill is to listen. Also be kind. I have found the best way to manage is to find your staff doing things right and give praise.Ask them what they feel their weakness is and listen, really listen then work together to strengthen their weakness. if you staff knows you care and listen well as well as praise and recognize them for doing things right you will build trust and they will have confidence in you as their boss. You can't build a successful sales team without all of these things.
Was a sales Manager with staff in 3 States and they have always appreciated that I was in their corner and listened and was helpful and supportive. We have all gone our seperat ways now in other jobs but still stay in touch. You can't beat that kind of loyalty.


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Kim’s Answer

Great question. I have been in sales for over 20 years and it is very important to be a sales person first. You need to understand the highs and lows of the sales cycle. As far as a good soft skill to have as a manager. that would be to listen. I have had good and bad managers over the years and the most impactful to me have been those who take the time to listen. Best of luck!

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Jackie’s Answer

Great question! 3 things come to mind immediately: being a good listener, being creative and being empathetic. Being a leader in sales means that you have to listen to your employees as well as to the market.

To do that effectively, you have to really listen to the wants and needs, understand them deeply, and work towards building a go-to market strategy that supports the needs of your organization and the market to be successful.

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Patrick’s Answer

Listening is a great and underused skill. Do not try to answer the question before the person has finished talking. Do not try and show you are the smartest in the room by talking the most. Listening allows others to share their questions and opinions. Leaders listen first and help others come up with the best answers.

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Damien’s Answer

Hey Tyler,

In my experience, the most beneficial soft skill in sales management or sales in general, is empathy. Being able to place yourself in the shoes of your team members and customers is key to being able to provide the best advice. Often times, sales professionals take on the consultant/advisor role, and you can't effectively advise someone on best practices without understanding their individual situation. The same is true when helping an individual develop their career in sales. Practicing empathy also allows you, as a leader, to develop other leaders and pass off the responsibility for key objectives appropriately.

I hope this helps,
Damien

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Joemark’s Answer

Personality development and product knowledge

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Maria’s Answer

Hello there!

Being part of the management team means you have to deal with people, therefor you need to be able to listen, show empathy on occasion, make them feel they are important and they do matter (they are not just a number).

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Charlotte(Carly)’s Answer

Listening to your customers, being empathetic towards their issues you are trying to solve and being patient.

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Mikio’s Answer

-https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2014/09/5-essential-skills-you-need-successful-sales-manager-gp.html


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