How To Be A Great Sales Manager: 10 Essential Qualities For Success

In this post, I’m going to tell you how to be a great sales manager. If you develop these 10 qualities, you’ll drive business results while earning the trust and respect of your sales team.

Great sales managers help organizations exceed their goals, not just meet them. Ironically, (this isn’t easy to admit) I’m not a great sales manager.

The New York Times recently wrote an article about my struggles to manage sales for Yesware and serve as my company’s CEO.

Related: How to Become a Best-in-Class VP of Sales by 25

Despite some of my own failures, I’ve been lucky enough to work with (and work for) some amazing sales leaders. Experience is the best teacher after all. After learning from my mistakes, I’m confident now that I’ve figured out how to be a great sales manager.

I truly believe that “People don’t quit companies, they quit managers.” With that being said, below are the 10 qualities that I look for in my sales managers:

    1. Confidence
    2. Courage
    3. Ambition
    4. Curiosity
    5. Optimism
    6. Humor
    7. A Little Scary
    8. Pride
    9. Loyalty
    10. Consistency



  • Confidence comes from understanding your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Goes to bed thinking, “what can I do to help my team reach their potential?” They put other people first.


  • They tackle the big, challenging problems that the company is facing.
  • They fearlessly confront issues and have difficult conversations with members of the team.


  • Another way of putting this is that that you’re hungry.
  • Be driven, but continue to find new ways to motivate your team.


  • Great sales managers are great listeners. They are sponges, as opposed to rocks.
  • They actively engage with the people that they speak to.


  • This doesn’t mean that they’re always smiling and they’re always chipper. It means that you’re not defeated by life’s circumstances.
  • Alternatively, you’re not “swept away” by success either.
  • You know how to keep an even keel in times of great struggle and success.


  • Sales managers are a little quirky and can be a little weird.
  • They help bring humor into situations and allow humor to be in the workplace.

A Little Scary

  • Most people understand when they’ve done something wrong. You don’t have to pile on in situations.
  • It’s important to have an “edge” that is rarely seen. Don’t pile on.


  • As an adult, you’re at work for most of your waking hours. Don’t just go through the motions. Take pride in everything you do.
  • You have so many opportunities to be “alive” at work and that time is precious. Take it seriously.


  • Never give up on your team. Fight to the end for your team, your prospects, and your companies.
  • The best start-ups that actually succeed are successful because they don’t give up on their idea. They keep fighting.


  • Be steady, even when it is boring.
  • Sales Managers need to be there for the next sale, the next quarter, the next meeting.

Great Sales Managers Know More Than Just Numbers

Sure, being able to build a sales process to drive revenue is important. But if your team doesn’t respect you and you can’t motivate them, it’s worthless.

Notice that you don’t see “rich” or “successful” on this list. I don’t put those things on our list because getting rich or being successful is also, in part, a factor of having good luck.

As a sales manager or as a salesperson, consider how you would score yourself from a scale of 1 to 10. Target three things that you want to improve on and come up with a plan for improving in those three areas.

For example, imagine that you score yourself low on consistency and you want to improve your communication. One plan that you could set for yourself is to follow-up via email within 24 hours to everyone who emails you.

Matthew Bellows is the Founders and CEO of Yesware. He often shares his insight with publications like Harvard Business Review and, and Matthew regularly speaks at events, including SXSW, TechWeek Chicago, and the Nantucket Conference.

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