Many small B2B operations are the brainchild of a brilliant salesperson who saw a way to fill a gap in the market.

Having a sales manager can seem like an unnecessary expense. Too many sales managers are nothing more than sales team members who take on one or two additional responsibilities. They often know little about management or sales.

Almost any manager today can talk the language of managing in terms such as planning, directing, and controlling. But the test of being an effective manager is really to understand managing well enough to practice it in day-to-day responsibilities.

What are the responsibilities of a Sales Manager?

The effectiveness of any marketing campaign is dependent on the sales manager and their ability to motivate sales personnel.

Sales managers are responsible for hiring, training, motivating, and directing sales personnel, who in turn persuade customers to buy. This latter job of persuading customers is a challenging one and one that many sales managers did before stepping into the role of management. For this reason, many sales managers find it difficult to move away from sales and step into actual management roles.

Sales managers are responsible for procedures such as hiring, forecasting, and budgeting, training, and motivating. They are also expected to work closely with marketing to increase their functional knowledge of marketing, personnel, accounting, engineering, production, or other essential functions of your business.

A sales manager must certainly understand the sales and marketing process. It is their job to communicate between sales and marketing to establish what is working well and what is not being received by customers. It is an important role that too many sales managers do not perform, as they often focus on the competition of sales.

Do You Need a Sales Manager on Your Team?

Most sales managers have difficulty deciding which activities are managing, and which are “doing.” For example, which of the following would you classify as “doing” activities?

  • Calling an account holder with one of your sales team to tell a customer that company management is interested in the account.
  • Making a sales presentation to a prospective customer to show one of your sales team how to do it.
  • Calling the acquisitions officer of a large account to cement customer relationships and promote business.

These are only a few examples of ways that sales managers are often too involved in sales and not enough in management and delegation.

If you have a small business, you likely do not need a sales manager, as a competent marketing manager is more adept at training your sales team and communicating the right information. All the sales stats that you need to analyze can be pulled from databases, so again, a sales manager is superfluous for most organizations.

What you might need is a team leader. A salesperson who other team members can turn to for fast answers.

Before you decide if your company need to appoint a sales manager, ask yourself:

  • What do you want a sales manager to change/fix in your organization? What is it that you are missing?
  • Do you not already have the in-house expertise that would help you address the current issues?

This yes/no questions might help clarify if you really need a new team member or just an internal reshuffle.

Does your sales team understand your company vision?
Does your sales team understand your marketing goals?
Are your sales team driven and focused?
Is your marketing team supportive of your sales team?
Is your marketing manager capable of maintaining the strategic focus across both departments?
Do you know who your competitors are and the specifics of their product/s?
Do you have an established feedback loop between marketing and sales?
Do you always rely on evidence when making a decision?
Do you validate your assumptions prior to making decisions?
Do you have a groomed and prioritized product backlog?
Do you know why past sales failures have occurred and how to mitigate them in the future?
Are you comfortable saying ‘no’ to stakeholders and explaining your decisions?


Managing can be defined as planning, directing, and controlling the activities of other people in the same organization in order to achieve or exceed desired objectives. Some people confuse selling with managing because one who sells is expected to get sales results through customers and prospects.

However, the essential difference is that a person in a managerial position has authority and responsibility to get a job done through others in the same organization, while a salesperson is expected to perform the set tasks and achieve sales targets.

If you think you need a sales manager, be sure that you know what it is you want them to achieve. Many people who are capable of being sales managers are not ready to stop being salespeople. They love the thrill of the sale, the manipulation, and controlling of others. They are often very bad managers who are focused on competition. Often, a marketing manager is better able to take on the role, overseeing both sales and marketing to ensure a cohesive approach to sales, motivate people in non-threatening ways and remove themselves from the often cutthroat world of sales.