Effective sales management requires leadership by example. What qualities make great leaders? These qualities could be put into two categories, "general" and "personal."

General qualities include:

· Decision ability

· Knowledge

· A creative imagination

· Personal dynamic

The personal qualities are:

· Self-confidence

· Ambition

· Reliability

· Integrity

· Intestinal fortitude


Now let's look at each of these qualities.

Decision ability. The power to make a decision may seem like a given, but I have seen a few sales managers who have been procrastinators.

A good decision maker will get all the facts, make an evaluation of them and then make a decision. There is no procrastination, vacillation or indecision on the part of such sales managers. Once a decision is made, they implement a plan to match their decision.

Knowledge. Product knowledge is a requirement in every industry, though I would not say it is above any other requirement of a job. Knowing people and people skills are of equal importance and probably are necessary for any sales manager to succeed. In survey after survey, the biggest reason sales managers failed were their inability to work with their subordinates. They had no personal leadership.

Creative imagination. I don't mean daydreaming or having fantasies about the job. Being creative is the ability to be given a set of circumstances and come up with a new way to meet the objective. It is a gift for some and learned by experience for others, but it is essential in sales management. In the mature markets we are in today, creative marketing is necessary to be profitable.

Personal dynamic. Sales managers must have a personality their staffs like and respect. It is difficult to lead salespeople without their respect. The people in the sales department must want to follow because they believe in the person leading. This may not be the "one big happy family" approach, but it must be a team approach. It is trusting that managers will lead them to the place where they will be successful. Managers will take the blame, but not the glory.

Self-confidence. Self-confidence is having a healthy attitude about your capabilities. There is a thin line between self-confidence and bragging. Self-confidence is not being a snob. It is not being an egotist. It is having the assurance you have the capability and capacity to meet challenges and succeed. Successful salespeople must have an air of self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment when they do a good job. Good, self-confident sales managers surround themselves with self-confident salespeople.

Ambition. Ambition is essential for sales managers. Ambition is the drive needed to make sales promotions work. It allows the sales manager to set goals that are meaningful. It is the sign of a healthy, aggressive person. Ambition should never be destructive, but used only in a constructive way.

Reliability. For reliable people, their word is their bond. They are trusting and keep promises. They live up to their commitments and people can count on them. They can be counted on to stand up for their people. Upper-management can count on them to carry out their demands and policies while keeping a close relationship with the salespeople.

Integrity. The manager must be honest, upright and trusting in every aspect of his or her job. Selling requires trust and honesty; it all starts with the sales manager.

Intestinal fortitude. This is sometimes called "guts." Managers have to have the conviction to do what is right and what they believe in.

Sincerity. Everything you do must come from deep within and be genuine. This is no job for a phony!

Humility. Humility allows a person to feel good about the production of the people who work with him or her without bragging. Humility is positive and keeps everything in prospective.