Reconnecting with the Core Purpose of the Sales Manager’s Role

by Marty Nicholas

The sales manager’s role is much harder than it used to be. While helping the sales team hit the number still remains their core purpose, sales managers are now also typically responsible for a broad range of non-sales activities – many of which consume time and effort that could be better spent coaching and mentoring salespeople. When considering the remit of the sales manager, organisations generally take this new set of non-sales responsibilities for granted, having completely lost sight of the core purpose of the role.

What’s behind this change?

Over the last two decades, the imperative to cut costs and enhance shareholder value has seen many organisations undergo considerable downsizing. One of the roles that bore the brunt of this change was the sales manager. Traditionally, the role was supported by various enabling functions. However with these functions largely eliminated, the role of the sales manager is now a case of ‘one head wearing many hats’ – acting at various times as a recruiter, motivator, change manager, compliance officer, administrator, talent manager, project lead – the list goes on. While the role is still known by the title ‘Sales Manager’, often the last thing they are asked to do is ‘manage sales’.

What’s the single overarching purpose of the sales manager’s role?

With a variety of non-sales activities now typically falling upon the shoulders of the sales manager, it’s critical to refocus on their core purpose – to ensure every individual salesperson hits their number! This is far more important than the aggregate team hitting the number. Relying on the team to deliver results, which in most cases means a few high performing salespeople, is not ideal for three main reasons.

Namely it can: 

  • Introduce dependencies and downside risk into your execution if high performers lose form or leave
  • Mask the real potential of total team performance 
  • Do little to fundamentally improve your team’s ability to hit next year’s number

Conclusion – elevate the core purpose of the sales manager’s role

Many organisations have lost sight of the core purpose of the sales manager. Buried by admin, over-burdened by their many masters and bogged down wearing too many ‘hats’, sales managers increasingly find themselves consumed by everything but sales. When you elevate and measure the core purpose of the sales manager – ensuring all salespeople hit the number – you start to set the business up for more sustainable and repeatable outperformance.