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What Manager Qualities Matter Most for Building Elite Sales Teams?

16:49 15 May in Research Hub

Key Takeaways

  1. Elite sales teams have managers who are strong at coaching their teams to get a prospect’s commitment to make a decision, believe coaching is important, and have a passion for coaching
  2. When a manager has all three of these attributes, their team has 80% more elite salespeople than the team of a manager who lacks these qualities
  3. Unfortunately, just 9% of sales managers are strong on all three qualities


In our earlier posts we discussed how to lay the foundation for a coachable sales team, and how frequently managers should provide coaching. So, your managers have built trust and they’re coaching daily – what next? Almost every day, a client will ask us “What do managers of top performing teams do differently? Which manager qualities matter the most for building a highly effective sales team?”

To answer this, we have examined the Sales Evaluations of 44,493 salespeople and their managers with a specific focus on which management coaching elements are associated with elite sales teams.

First, we identified the top 10% of salespeople, ranked by OMG’s Sales Percentile. Then we ran their managers’ evaluations through a predictive decision tree analysis to see which management competencies lead to the greatest increase in high performing salespeople on a team. This is what we learned.

High performing teams have sales managers who are strong coaches on how to get a prospect’s commitment to make a decision

Managers who are effective at helping their salespeople get prospects to commit to a decision have 40% more top performers than managers who are ineffective at coaching on decision making. Why is this so predictive of success?

If your managers are helping their team to regularly get commitment, then they’re probably coaching on several supporting skills also. Getting a prospect to agree to a decision means the salesperson has uncovered a compelling reason to buy, thoroughly qualified the opportunity, and presented a need and cost appropriate solution at the right time. This takes active listening, many insightful and challenging questions, and the ability to pushback appropriately on potential stall tactics.

These skills aren’t intuitive. They need to be drilled through repeat practice with a manager the salesperson trusts.

High performing teams also have managers with strong supportive beliefs relating to coaching

What are supportive beliefs? They are the assertions that sales managers consciously or unconsciously bring to their work. Strong managers believe that coaching is important. They might believe that they’re responsible for their team’s daily activities. They understand the different motivational styles on their team and flex appropriately. They believe it’s important to debrief sales calls and help the salesperson understand what went well or poorly.

A manager’s belief system is so important that sales teams with managers who coach on prospect commitment and have supportive coaching beliefs have 70% more top performing salespeople than managers who don’t have supportive coaching beliefs.

Finally, high performing sales teams have managers who have a passion for coaching

Sales teams with managers who help their teams get commitment and believe coaching is important and have a passion for coaching have 80% more top salespeople than managers who don’t have a passion for coaching. A manager can coach for the right skills (prospect commitment) and believe that coaching matters, but still not love coaching. What does passion for coaching look like?

Simply put, it’s where the manager wants to spend their discretionary time. Think about a team where the manager is responsible for several salespeople and their own quota. When they have 15 free minutes does they use it to develop their own clients or to help their team practice their skills? Both are good options – but electing to spend extra time coaching shows a passion that can help the entire team reach their full potential.

Sales managers who do all three are a diamond in the rough

As important as these manager competencies are, they’re still too rare. Only 9% of sales managers in OMG’s database of millions of salespeople are strong at getting commitments, improving beliefs, and coaching with passion. A manager who is strong in all three is a diamond in the rough. How do you know if your organization has that diamond?

Fortunately, OMG can help you measure these qualities. Ask an OMG Partner for a sales manager evaluation or sales manager candidate assessment to find out if anyone on your staff has these skills or the potential to develop them.

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