4 Sales Management Styles You Must Know


Getting the best out of a sales team revolves around two pegs: motivation and style of management. It is no secret that successful managers classify and tackle situations using various methods. After all, there is no one-style-fits-all approach to management. The underlying objective behind these methods is influence.

It is only by influencing the team in positive ways that the ideal sales manager meets various business goals – meeting the targets, aligning with the overall vision of the organization and driving the team forward. Managers who lack the right approach to handle the myriad situations that arise on the floor fail to connect with the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of their team. The biggest challenge for sales managers is therefore to understand and employ the right management styles to influence and direct activities in the desired direction.

To simplify this art, four distinct styles for managing a sales force can be identified. It is important to know which style to use for the situation at hand depending on the aims and outcomes desired.

  • The autocratic manager
    Sometimes, a sales manager needs to become an autocrat. Often seen in negative light, this approach should be identified and used in specific situations that require a one-way channel of communication. Make sure you know what you are saying, and make it specific. Use this approach when dealing with a new team, to provide policy decisions, or when a situation has reached a stonewall stage where someone needs to take a call.
  • The ‘selling’ sales manager
    Selling is a generic concept that works in myriad situations. If you are changing the course of strategy with new ideas or sales techniques, or trying to push the team to overachieve targets, you need to first convince them. The sales manager thus needs to become his own internal salesman. The upside of this is that the team also gets to provide their views and feedback.
  • The participating manager
    The manager need not always occupy the high chair of authority. There are situations that call for them to occupy the next chair and listen. This is needed while taking feedback, during appraisals for suggesting improvements, during mentoring, and while brainstorming. It is obvious that this two-way style will boost morale and show that everyone is considered a contributor.
  • The delegating manager
    A very common concept, delegation can be used successfully in a sales force to build a culture of freedom. It not only allows salespeople to work independently, but also enhances their sense of self-worth. Use this approach to empower and develop successful sales people. In case you feel it is risky, allow yourself to monitor and track the team member without being supervisory.

No style however is isolated. In his blog on SalesforceOpens a new window , David Jacoby explains: “Although each sales management style is separate and distinct from the others, you will find that many situations require more than one style.” As an illustration, he cites how a new idea can be introduced with the selling style, followed by the participatory method to seek feedback. The key therefore is to remain as flexible as you can while leading a team.