How to be a Successful Sales Manager

January 7, 2014 | Admin

Sales Manager

In order to understand what it takes to be a successful sales manager, we sat down with three successful sales experts who currently have a hand in generating sales and managing a team within their company. Here is a look into what it takes, in their experienced opinion, to make it as a sales manager. First up, we spoke with our own sales manager, Katie King.

Name: Katie King

Company: Kevy

Title: Sales Lead

Dog person or cat person? Dog

Favorite book? Mark of the Lion by Francine Rivers

What’s the worst job you have ever had? I was 12 years old working in a horse barn mucking out stalls.

Funniest moment you’ve experienced in sales? On the first cold call I ever made, the person answered and I froze and hung up the phone immediately.

Tell us a little about yourself and in what capacity you lead sales.

My background has always been in sales, starting when I was 15 years old. I have a passion for sales – its is one of those things that you’re either good at it or not, and because it’s a numbers game, it’s really easy to see if you’re good at it or not. Working in sales from a young age, I have moved up through the ranks and luckily, I’ve had the opportunity at Kevy to move into management.

Currently our team consists of two sales reps. We are adding two more this month and are projected to add one per quarter through the rest of 2014. We’re just going to continue to grow and hopefully expand even further in 2015.

What’s another word you would use to accurately describe what a sales manger does? 


What are the biggest challenges you face in managing a sales team?

Everybody’s different and everybody sells differently than I do. The biggest challenge is remembering that everyone is a little different than me and its gonna work differently for each person. What works for me may not work for one of my guys and vice versa. That’s one of the biggest challenges because it is hard in the beginning to know if a unique sales behavior is just unique to the person or something that may need to be corrected.

What does an average day look like?

The average day is a lot of encouragement and staying on top of the team; finding out where their deals are and providing back up for them in any way. That may look like creating PDFs or sitting in on demos or even pulling the “management card”  to special approve something. The average day is really a lot of administrative work for the team and right now, lots of planning for Q1 and for the rest of the year.

What are the biggest surprises you have found being a start-up sales manager?

I don’t know if its a big surprise, but something that’s a lot different in start-up sales than a regular sales job is that you’ve got to be able to adapt to change quickly. Our product and key functionality may be very different week after week. The ability to stay on top of all of the changes is key.

What do you think is the difference between a successful and unsuccessful sales manager?

I had a sales manager one time that was completely smothering. He wanted to do my job and everyone else’s for them, from writing every single email for us to commenting on every sentence I made during a call. Really the difference is in extreme micromanagement versus training and equipping your team and trusting your sales reps to succeed.

Where do you draw leadership inspiration/find resource to better lead?

We are blessed with such great leadership within the company (Ed Trimble and David Cummings). For general leadership I look to them, and for sales management I look to the past sales managers I’ve had that have really influenced me.

How do you set personal and professional goals?

If my sales goal is 30, I set an expectation for myself of 40. I just want to hit above and beyond. When I set higher expectations, a lot of times I land right where I should.

Personally, I write my goals out. My personal life goals are more general than my highly specific professional goals. My life goals often take the form of “This year I want to accomplish…,” or “Within five years I want to be at this place in my life…”

How do you balance being a boss and a friend?

To be a friend, I try to be there for big life things but ultimately, at the end of the day its a balance of remembering that work stays at work, home stays at home. When we’re at work its about the numbers – thats what sales is.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a new sales manager?

You’re not going to be able to help everyone. You’re not going to be able to make everyone successful. Either people have the sales gene or they don’t. After you train  and equip them not everyone is going to make it, but it’s my job to make sure they have everything they need to do their best.

Katie King Headshot

Thank you, Katie! Contact Katie at or connect with her on LinkedIn.

This is part one of a three-part blog series on what it takes to be a successful sales manager. Stay tuned for more insight into what it truly takes to be a successful sales manager.