I’ve been around the sales industry for quite a while now, and I’ve had the chance to work with a number of people who have all been … shall we say, unique. Also though, throughout the years, I started to observe certain typological similarities in sales leaders. Naturally, every sales manager is different, as much as every individual person is. However, the unique personalities together with the unified workspace and workload tend to uncover certain patterns in leadership behavior. Let’s have a look at my observations, and see if you find yourself in them.
1. The Egoist
They’re all over the place, but not in a good way. Usually, they possess a charming personality with excellent selling skills, but also little to no ability to be a good teacher and team leader. These kinds of managers are self-centered overachievers, who expect their team’s output to be at least as good as their own, but without any contribution from their side. High expectations of excellency together with the self-driven orientation to achieve the best results will not make them the most popular manager in the room.
2. The Frontliner
The frontliner is the antithesis of the egoist — they’re excellent sellers, but excellent leaders as well. They strive to get their team’s numbers up by being right there with them and closing sales like there’s no tomorrow, giving a direct example by doing. They tend to have excellent motivating skills, know how to appreciate their individual team members and have a great relationship with them by not secluding themselves and just giving out orders and expecting results, but instead jump in and pull with the team. The frontliners tend to put the best interest of their team before their own personal comforts, which makes them very popular, at the expense of making their own job harder.
3. The Mentor
In other words, the teacher and trainer. Mentors tend not to get involved in the sales process, but rather stay in the background while mingling with their staff and giving advice when needed. They know exactly what the strongest and the weakest side is of each and every one of their salespeople. A mentor’s main goal is to work with everyone on an individual level, to get the best out of them and to make them become the most efficient part of the team. They possess the business insights and know-how to know how to succeed in sales, but believe that learning by doing is a much better approach than teaching by doing.
4. The Administrator
This kind of manager is usually to be found in their office, absorbed in sales reports, market researches and mappings, and when you see them, it’s usually above your own report, talking about whether you’re filling the criteria for the quarter or not. They’re extremely punctual and detail-oriented, and have a strong sense of responsibility to their company. Their main goal that they keep passing on to their team is achieving better revenue goals than in the last period. Contrary to the stereotype, administrators are usually pleasant and polite, but also reserved and tend to keep their distance. Fill your quota first. Then we’ll see.
5. The Beginner
The beginner doesn’t necessarily have to be a freshly hired or promoted sales manager with no previous experience, but most of the time it is the case. The beginner may also be a manager with rich experience in a different area and different industry, who is not yet fully accustomed to their new chair, new market, new products and new people. This archetype has two possible life stages: either the manager finds their way around the job and eventually settles down in a comfortable management style, or they don’t and the whole sales department and consequentially the whole company suffers from the incompetence. This is a sad outcome, but it does happen every now and then.
6. All-In-One – The Shapeshifter
I call this type an “all-in-one”, because that’s what it really is. And truth be told, 99% of the sales managers I’ve ever met have been shapeshifters, with one of the above described types being more prominent than the others, but all (or most) of the others present. So don’t worry if you don’t fit one of the categories a hundred percent – it would quite frankly be weird if you did.
Variety is the spice of life, and if you’ve found a little bit of everything in yourself, you’re probably doing a great job as a sales manager.