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Managing people is rarely easy, and sales management has the added pressure of sales goals which makes it even more challenging. But a great sales manager can mean the difference between success and failure for an organization and can make themselves and their teams a fortune in sales.

To succeed in sales management, always follow the ten sales management commandments. Here they are:

I. Thou shalt not forget thy was once a salesperson

If you’ve never worked as a sales rep, then you have no business being a sales manager. And when you’re managing salespeople, always remember that you used to be one. This will help you empathize with your staff and understand what it takes to make a successful salesperson.

II. Thou shalt not micromanage

The reason you shouldn’t micromanage isn’t because it’s annoying, but because it’s ineffective. If your salespeople can’t succeed without you hovering over their shoulder and watching their every move, then you either have the wrong salespeople or they have the wrong leadership. Your time should be spent developing processes and providing support, not looming over people’s shoulders.

III. Remember thy ongoing trainings

Your sales staff needs to stay up to date on training and it’s up to you to ensure that they do. From product training to sales training, it’s not wasted time if it helps your team perform. And always make sure you attend so that you’re not asking people to do something you’re unwilling to do yourself.

IV. Honor thy promises to thy salespeople

To gain and keep the respect of your sales staff, it’s imperative that you always keep your word. If you make a promise, you have to keep it and if you think you might not be able to, then don’t make it. When your team sees that you always do what you say you’re going to, they will trust you and work harder for you.

V. Thou shalt kill thy underperforming sales reps

It might sound harsh, but if you’ve worked with poorly-performing salespeople and offered them support and they still can’t step it up, you have to cut them loose. Some people will never be good at sales, and sometimes they’re just a bad fit with the company. But there’s nothing more damaging to a sales organization than keeping poor performers and hoping that they magically improve.

VI. Thou shalt overcome customer problems when needed

Just because you’re in management doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have to deal with customers. In fact, you’ll probably deal with the worst ones more than ever before because any time there’s a problem your salespeople can’t solve, you’ll be the one handling it. Sometimes, a sales manager can be the only one able to calm an angry customer or solve a major client problem.

VII. Thou shalt not steal thy coworker’s staff

While it might be tempting to steal the best salespeople from another team, you might end up creating problems for yourself by doing so. Don’t try to pull off any trickery and instead focus on making the team you have the best it can possibly be. Great managers can take average sales reps and make them perform at above-average levels.

VIII. Thou shalt not covet thy employee’s commissions

It’s a fact of life that salespeople oftentimes make more money than their sales managers. But never dwell on that, even if your employee is making more in commissions than you are. There are many other advantages to working in management, and besides, the better your employees do, the more money you’ll make.

IX. Thou shalt embrace new technologies

Sales is changing, whether we like it or not. Emerging technologies are creating seemingly unfair advantages for companies willing to try them. Spiro, for instance, uses artificial-intelligence to recommend which of your prospects should be called next so that you will have the highest likelihood of turning it into a closed deal.

X. Thou shalt always be closing

Just because you’re in sales management doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be closing. Quite the contrary, your entire life will be devoted to closing every deal in your employee’s pipeline instead of just your own. Focus on closing as many of those deals as possible and you’ll be a major success.

Follow these sales management commandments and you will be rewarded.


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About the Author Adam Honig

Adam is the co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a natural sales leader with a mission to help salespeople make more money using artificial intelligence — or any sort of intelligence for that matter. Adam has been a founder of four companies which resulted in two triumphant IPOs and two legendary mergers. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the ‘No Jerks’ hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


  • Stephen says:

    — VI. Thou shalt kill thy underperforming sales reps —

    Really? so changing reps is good business sense? new reps tripping over themselves about your own product works? better check that commandment.

    • Adam Honig says:

      Well, it all depends on the situation but if the reps are really underperforming you’re doing both them and the company a service in moving on separately.

      Your point about the costs involved are certainly valid, and I would look at the cost and impact before making the decision… but if you want the team to be truly great, you need to move away from the lower performers at some point.

  • James King says:

    Thou shalt not give Sales Staff dead, rejected, sh!tty leads and expect anything but sh!t. Sales live off of sales and commissions. The more they sell, the more the manager makes. Good Managers MUST fight for their staff.

  • Rob says:

    Great article, Adam. I was told by a wise man once to remember when shifting from sales to sales (or any other) management that it’s, “NO LONGER ABOUT YOU.” Be all about their needs and success.

    I’ve been at the top and sometimes the bottom in my long sales career and I agree, it’s a good thing for the manager to invest much more time/energy building and keeping the top 10% winners than wasting that investment trying to keep the obvious wrong people.

    If you are a good leader (read: clear and fair communications/expectations/outcomes), the decision to free someone from perpetual struggle in the wrong-fit role should never be a surprise whatsoever to that person.


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