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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

3 Things Every Sales Manager Must Do to Become a Sales Leader

3 Things Every Sales Manager Must Do to Become a Sales Leader

As a former sales manager and c-suite executive leader, and now working alongside sales managers to help them grow their teams, I know that a sales management career can really make an impact.

Sales managers are your frontline leaders. They work with their teams to focus on goals and objectives for the organization. Sales managers direct expectations, show people and instruct people in ways to achieve the company goals. Being a sales manager is extremely trackable and measurable. Their job is more about administering the work and ensuring the day-to-day activities are getting done as they should.

If a sales manager aspires to be a sales leader, they should consider the following three easy characteristics to become one. Note the differences between leaders and Sales Managers in these three steps.

9 Sales Leadership Qualities to Look for in Top Performers

1. Leaders create a vision; Sales Managers execute the vision.

In order to create a vision that inspires others to follow, the leader must determine the purpose of an organization and ensure that it’s bigger than any one person in the company. Here are examples of vision statements from recognizable companies:

  • IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people.
  • Amazon: To be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
  • Southwest Airlines: To become the world's most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.

2. Leaders create change; Sales Managers react to change.

Leaders are natural agents of change because the landscape of their company is always evolving. In fact, Leaders cannot succeed without implementing change that inspires and motivates others.

3. Leaders lead people; Sales Managers manage work.

Leadership is about getting people to understand and believe in your vision and to work with you to achieve your goals. Leaders provide direction, motivation, and work collaboratively with others to accomplish organizational goals.


These three characteristics are significantly different from a leader’s perspective versus a sales manager's. However, leaders will embed themselves in the sales teams to build connections with the individuals who are executing the vision of the organization.

These relationships include the frontline salespeople as well as the sales managers. A great sales leader We'll make a point of helping people grow their careers.

In fact, you may have experienced this as well; great leaders seek to work with members of their team that ultimately would love to have their job. Leaders build strong teams; they help them grow their careers, and most importantly, they prepare the organization for tomorrow.

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*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2016 and has since been updated.

Topics: leadership