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5 Questions Every Sales Manager Needs to Answer

By Andrea McOwen

Are your sales flat or trending down? Are your sales managers equipped with the skills to effectively lead their direct reports to success? Does your company put strong effort into hiring and training their sales managers? In this video, Andrea McOwen, President of Strategic Enhancement Group, and Performance Consultant Bo Smith discuss the impact sales managers can have on improving sales performance.

Andrea McOwen: 00:01 Hi. I'm Andrea McOwen, President of Strategic Enhancement Group, and today I'm joined by Performance Consultant Bo Smith.

Bo Smith: 00:17 Andrea, it's good to be with you.

Andrea McOwen: 00:20 Our topic today is the impact sales managers can have on performance. Wilson Learning quantified, with research, the important role sales managers play in growing sales. In a number of carefully documented case studies, research has shown that a well-trained sales manager can increase sales by an average of 29%, and that is independent of the skills their salespeople have. Unfortunately, many companies don't equip their sales managers with the skills to effectively lead their direct reports to success, and they don't put enough effort into hiring and training their sales managers. Today, we'll provide some tips to assist by looking at a sales manager's role in a different way – as a sales leader manager. Bo, what are some symptoms that could indicate a manager needs help?

Bo Smith: 01:07 Andrea, red flags could be that sales are flat or they're trending down. Employees aren't fully engaged and empowered. There's a lack of clarity about direction of the company and goals, and difficulty attracting and retaining talent.

Andrea McOwen: 01:22 Those are definitely signs of trouble, Bo. Organizations expect sales managers to get results, but long-term performance requires a focus on more than just results. Research has shown that performance isn't sustainable unless it's accompanied by a high degree of fulfillment. To implement strategy and create business results, sales managers must create an environment of performance with fulfillment for their salespeople. These skills require integrating the inspiration of leadership with the skill of management. That requires more than a sales manager. It requires a sales leader manager.

Andrea McOwen: 01:59 We expect a lot from our sales managers today. The business environment is so different, and it's more challenging than it was just a few years ago. This has increased the need for internal change to grow profitability. Bo, tell us more about the leader manager role.

Bo Smith: 02:15 A sales leader manager has a dual role. Not only does the sales manager have to manage the numbers, but he or she also has to lead and inspire the salespeople to achieve these goals. We call it the sales manager's dilemma. That's why we describe the person as a sales leader manager. He or she has learned both the insight and the skills for the most important thing that leaders do – creating an environment that enables people to perform at their best.

Andrea McOwen: 02:43 Right, Bo. Research has shown that there are five questions salespeople want answered that have a high impact on their job satisfaction. If you're to be a successful sales manager, it's important to learn these practices and address them. Bo, what are some of those questions?

Bo Smith: 03:00 Andrea, something important I've learned at SEG is to always look at things from the other person's point of view. So if I put myself in the salesperson's shoes, one question I'd have has to do with the direction of the company. Salespeople want to know, "Where are we going?" A successful sales career, it's about more than making money. Compensation is important, but that's only part of the picture. Today, more than ever, employees want to be part of a company that stands for something, that has a vision they can relate to.

Bo Smith: 03:30 When I sold newspaper advertising, something that made the work meaningful for me was I was taught that we brought in the bulk of the revenue so that reporters and editors could provide that quality news content. That was important to me. Salespeople appreciate sales leader managers who communicate the company's direction, motivate them to see how they can contribute, and spur them to action. Andrea, what's another question salespeople often have?

Andrea McOwen: 03:55 They want to know, "What's expected of us?" – what the goals are, and have them communicated with clarity. If you're striving to be a sales leader manager, you want to have a discussion about the goals, not a one-way presentation. Explain the importance of them in a motivating way, and inspire your team to achieve them.

Bo Smith: 04:12 Then, as a salesperson, I wanted to know, "How are we doing?" I expected my sales manager to keep me informed on where we stood versus our goals and to provide feedback. Feedback's a two-way street. Giving and receiving feedback won't be successful without true openness and receptivity on both sides. Andrea, what's another typical question salespeople have?

Andrea McOwen: 04:34 Well, this one isn't going to surprise you. "What's in it for us?" Salespeople are competitive. Sales leader managers know this and use recognition to inspire their teams. They survey their people to determine individual recognition preferences, whether tangible or intangible. Then they create a recognition plan and act accordingly. Bo, what's one more question that salespeople tend to have?

Bo Smith: 04:58 Andrea, the final question has to do with support. Both within sales teams and also at connecting points, such as other departments. "Where do we go for help?" The sales leader manager's role is to provide resources and remove obstacles to performance with fulfillment. This means the sales leader manager is often providing direct support to the sales team or obtaining support from other connecting points in the company, and often coaching the salesperson on how to obtain help and support from connecting points directly.

Andrea McOwen: 05:30 When sales managers use intentional practices to prepare for these questions, salespeople can reach their full sales potential. This leads to more revenue, higher salesperson satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and long-term profitability.

Andrea McOwen: 05:45 So to wrap up, in today's business climate, research shows that the sales manager plays a unique role in achieving goals, independent of the skills of the salesperson. To enable a sales team to perform at its best, a sales manager needs to both manage the numbers and lead the team by creating an environment encouraging performance with fulfillment. They need to be answering the five questions every employee wants answers to.

Bo Smith: 06:12 Where are we going? What's expected of us? How are we doing? What's in it for us? Where do we go for help? To learn more ways to tackle today's sales issues, please visit

Published: January 5, 2024

Are sales flat or trending down? Is your sales team fully engaged and empowered? Is there a lack of clarity about direction of the company and goals?

We can help your sales manager both manage the numbers and lead the team by creating an environment encouraging performance with fulfillment.

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Andrea McOwen


Andrea McOwen has over 30 years of business experience and has been with Strategic Enhancement Group for 28 years. As the President of Strategic Enhancement Group she is leading the day to day and future direction of the company. Andrea manages the business relationships with Strategic Enhancement Group’s international business partners and coordinates the appropriate resources needed around the world to meet our global clients’ needs. Andrea has managed large global implementations for many diverse global clients and is experienced managing projects in 36 countries in every region of the world. Andrea has a strong foundation in sales, service and management. Andrea’s ability to quickly demonstrate an understanding of organizational issues, needs and priorities has gained her the confidence and trust of customers and employees alike. Andrea graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.S. degree in fashion merchandising/interior design with a minor in business administration. Prior to joining SEG she worked with a merchandise wholesaler in sales and marketing and was a General Manager in retail.

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