How to assess sales manager skills

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For a company to succeed, it needs money, which means it must make sales. The sales manager is the person in charge of this. They guide profits up and down like a wizard. So, it pays to have the best at the helm. But how do you hire a great candidate?

The most effective way to do this is with skill assessments. 

Let’s look at the importance of a sales manager and the sales skills assessments you can use to guarantee the best hire. 

What is a sales manager skills assessment?

A sales manager skills assessment is the closest thing to a guarantee for a recruiter. Instead of hoping for the best after an interview, a skills assessment helps you focus on the candidates with the skills necessary for your sales teams to thrive. 

With many recruiters experiencing better hires after a using a skills assessment, it’s a necessary step for one of the most complex roles in your company.

A sales manager is the person responsible for your sales team. They organize, delegate, manage, and motivate your team. 

Their duties include: 

  • Delegating tasks 

  • Monitoring and managing the team

  • Creating sales goals

  • Monitoring sales goals

  • Client facing communication 

  • Hiring and training recruits

  • Finding and nurturing talent within the team

explanation of sales manager main duties

With complex and varied duties like these, it’s clear that sales managers must have a very robust skill set. If you want your sales teams to do well and improve over the long term, you must invest in a sales manager who can build and maintain a successful sales team. 

However, a challenge is finding a sales manager who can manage all the complicated aspects of this role, be hot or cold when the situation demands, and push sales beyond your targets. 

A skills assessment is a helpful tool for finding the ideal sales manager. By identifying candidates with the specific qualities you are looking for, you can use interviews, experience, and intuition to narrow your choices further.

Why are sales manager skills important?

Sales managers are directly responsible for the one thing a company cannot do without – customers.

The sales manager directly contacts clients, employees, and new recruits. This requires charm and good people management skills. The sales manager is also responsible for the numbers and motivating employees to make more sales.

A good sales manager creates a team that makes more sales, brings in more clients, and recruits new employees that meet this standard. 

Without this combination of people skills and goal-oriented thinking, your sales team won’t hit their targets, and the company will struggle to reach its short or long-term goals. 

What skills and traits are important for sales managers?

With so much to oversee and such a complex role in the company, the sales manager needs various skills and traits. Below, we’ve gathered some of the most important characteristics to consider when hiring your sales manager

Of course, you don’t need to hire a sales manager with every one of these skills. 

But if you know what your company needs, you’ll know what  to look for. Highlight the skills you think will improve your organization’s sales team, get your candidates to do a skills assessment, and compare the results. 

You’ll then know which candidates to call in for interviews. Here are the essential skills and traits to keep an eye out for:

graphic showing what skills and traits are important for sales managers

Strong leadership

The sales manager heads the sales team, some handling as many as 40 people. You need a sales manager with strong leadership skills to deal with a team of any size.

But strong leadership isn’t just about managing egos. Only 48% of employees say their company has strong leadership. More than half of employees feel they lack guidance, support, and a role model at work.

pie chart showing there is room to improve leadership in organizations

When employees can depend on and look up to their leader, it increases their engagement and productivity. And what comes with increased productivity from a sales team? More sales and more revenue. 

Effective communication

A sales manager spends most of their time with people – listening to their needs, inspiring their teams, and dealing with any workplace frictions.

If you want a manager that can do this, you need someone with excellent communication skills. They need to know how to use written, verbal, and non-verbal communication to benefit the company. 

Effective communication is also crucial for employee trust. Suppose employees don’t feel like they can talk to their leader, bring up criticism, or communicate their needs. In that case, they’ll suffer in silence and resent their management. Productivity will slow down, and your sales will plummet.

Active listening

Another part of communication is active listening. Unlike passive listening, active listening is the ability to consciously engage in what you’re hearing. This means being present for the conversation, absorbing the information, retaining it, and thinking it over. 

A sales manager who has active listening skills manages a healthier, more productive team. 

Employees know they can bring issues to their leader, who does their best to resolve them. They know they have someone who will genuinely listen to their concerns.

Active listening is also a sign of appreciation. If employees know their words are taken seriously, they feel valued. And as we know, a valued employee goes the extra mile for their company. 

Motivation 

Sales teams are competitive environments. However, this competitive nature can become demoralizing or toxic if not managed well. Conversely, healthy competition can increase sales and camaraderie and give employees a sense of purpose. 

To foster healthy competition, a sales manager has to motivate the team. They need to use skills like leadership and communication to bring out the best in their group and its selling capabilities. 

Critical thinking 

Critical thinking uses logic and research to analyze a problem and create a well-thought-out solution. In a sales manager, this skill leads to good judgment calls. 

Whether the sales manager needs to make a hiring choice, create a sales plan, or deal with an unhappy client, they must employ critical thinking skills to make the most of the situation. 

If a sales manager cannot objectively contemplate a situation, they’ll be swayed by others and be inconsistent in their results. 

Critical thinking is also a must for sales and market strategizing. The sales manager must know how to combine market needs and employee capabilities into an effective sales strategy. 

Recruiting and mentoring

A sales manager is in charge of recruiting and mentoring new sales agents. While managing their current team is the bulk of their responsibility, they must also search for new talent to continue the upward trajectory.

To find the best new talent, a sales manager needs to have had experience in the industry as a sales representative themselves. They also need to know what their team needs and how they can improve the candidate’s skills. 

But this is only half the job. After hiring the perfect candidate, the sales manager must help with training the recruit so they can easily adapt to the role. They should also know how to include the candidate to make them part of the team and its goals. 

Task delegation

Not all sales reps have the same jobs or the same goals. A sales team must also manage more than just sales, including client-facing and upper-management communications. It’s a complicated job with a to-do list to match. 

A sales manager needs to be able to delegate tasks well, both for themselves and their team. They must understand and optimize their own time management skills to organize their teams. 

Task delegation also includes the ability to assign tasks where they fit the best. A great workplace leader knows their team, strengths and weaknesses, and how to manage company goals accordingly. 

Goal and performance management

Sales managers are in charge of sales goals. They need to monitor teams and compare their results with the company goals. They need to reward where necessary and motivate where it’s needed. They also need to keep a close eye on employee and team performance. 

Besides individual management, a sales manager also needs to grow the team. They also need to understand market insights, read and create sales forecasts, and develop sales strategies that are clear and actionable.

7 Sales manager skills and traits tests

The following seven skill assessments help you find the best sales manager for your sales team. 

1. Sales Management test

This test evaluates how well a candidate will perform as a sales manager.

The Sales Management test examines all the sales manager criteria. It evaluates critical sales management areas, including: 

  • Leadership capabilities

  • Sales strategies

  • Sale incentives

  • Territory management

All of these concepts are essential for a sales manager who will effectively manage their team and grow the company. 

Candidates who do well with the Sales Management test will know how to build and maintain top-tier teams and how to plan for and achieve business goals. 

2. Leadership And People Management test

This test determines how candidates influence and guide subordinates.

The Leadership and People Management test is based on the work of Blanchard and Hersey. Its foundation is the Situational Leadership theory that says there’s no one authentic way to lead. Instead, leaders need to adapt their leadership style to the situation. 

The test puts candidates through real-life scenarios where they have to decide the appropriate response to the situation. Should they tell, sell, delegate, or participate? 

Their answers tell us whether they have a good grasp of key management concepts. 

  • Task delegation, responsibility, and management

  • Feedback and feedback timeframes

  • Employee guidance

  • Employee development 

  • Project planning and selling

The test has proven to be an easy and effective way to find leaders with agility and good judgment. It reveals the candidates with the drive and the ability to take their teams to the highest level. 

3. Time Management test

This test establishes how well a candidate can organize their time. 

Sales managers are in charge of many tasks, which can quickly become overwhelming if they don’t manage their time well. This test helps you find a sales manager who knows how to manage their time without losing the quality of their work. A sales manager who is good at this can also better control the team’s time. 

The Time Management test provides candidates with real-life, time-critical scenarios. The test requires them to juggle various deadlines, people, and priorities. 

If the candidate can manage their time well, they know how to: 

  • Plan around people and deadlines

  • Prioritize work 

  • Plan for time constraints

  • Reflect on the work

  • Communicate key information

  • Monitor outcomes

Candidates who do well with this test know how to incorporate priorities, personal goals, and company goals into their thinking. They also know how to translate this thinking into clear, actionable steps that maximize their time while meeting their goals. 

4. 16 Personalities test

This test established how the candidate processes information and makes decisions. 

The 16 Personalities test is based on Carl Yung’s work on human perception and judgment. The model helps us see how our biases influence how we absorb information. It also reveals how we use this information to inform our decisions. 

The test evaluates candidates on a spectrum, which is divided into the following categories:

  • Introversion (I) versus extroversion (E)

  • Intuition (N) versus sensing (S)

  • Feeling (F) versus thinking (T)

  • Judging (J) versus perceiving (P)

Depending on where you fall on the spectrum, the test combines your traits into a cohesive personality overview. They’re known as the 16 personality types. Here’s a quick overview of each personality type:

The analysts are:

  • INTJ: They are known for being creative, strategic, and reserved and are always ready with a plan.

  • INTP: They thirst for knowledge and are characterized by their innovative, curious, and intelligent nature.

  • ENTJ: This person is confident, persistent, and effective in reaching their objectives.

  • ENTP: They are interested, charming, and witty individuals who enjoy engaging in intellectual debates and challenges.

The diplomats are:

  • INFJ: They are quiet, optimistic, and caring, intending to inspire others. 

  • INFP: This person is characterized by their kindness, creativity, and romantic nature. They have a desire to assist others. 

  • ENFJ: They are enigmatic, confident, and well-spoken individuals who aspire to become inspiring leaders.

  • ENFP: They are friendly, empathetic, and enthusiastic, maintaining an optimistic outlook even in challenging situations.

The sentinels are:

  • ISTJ: They are trustworthy because they are practical, factual, and honest.

  • ISFJ: These defenders are known for being kind and dedicated individuals with a strong sense of justice.

  • ESTJ: They are capable of effectively managing both tasks and people, displaying traits of organization, practicality, and calmness.

  • ESFJ: They are charming, social, and caring individuals who enjoy assisting others.

The explorers are:

  • ISTP: They are experimental, bold, and practical, and they have a quick learning abilities.

  • ISFP: This person is artistic, adaptable, and amiable. They are open to embracing new things. 

  • ESTP: They are discerning, wise, and intelligent individuals who enjoy living on the edge.

  • ESFP: This person is full of enthusiasm, energy, and friendliness, which makes the office a lively place.

5. Critical Thinking test

This test evaluates a candidate’s analytical abilities. 

For a sales manager, critical thinking is a necessity. Being in charge of financial accounts, a sales manager needs to make a lot of decisions that require research and analytical ability. With this skill, the company may avoid financial losses and have consistent results. 

The Critical Thinking test evaluates the candidate’s inductive and deductive reasoning skills. It tests their ability to gather information and make logical decisions. 

The test questions determine how the candidates: 

  • Interpret sequences and arrangements

  • Interpret cause and effect

  • Recognize assumptions

  • Make decisions based on the given and gathered information

The candidates who do well with this test don’t rely on guesswork to make crucial decisions. They know how to research a topic and make choices that benefit the company and their team. 

6. Communication test

This test establishes how well the candidate can communicate. 

Whether verbal or non-verbal, communication is essential for company and client-facing communication. A sales manager must communicate well with team members, upper management, clients, and suppliers. 

The Communication test evaluates: 

  • Understanding of written communication

  • Active listening skills

  • Grasp on non-verbal communication cues

  • Grasp and use professional language 

  • How they summarize and convey requirements, next steps, plans, etc. 

The candidates who do well on this test know how to interpret information, convey intent, and manage professional situations. They’ll also confidently navigate their peers and clients without unnecessary misunderstandings. To measure their skills in real-time, assess their communication competency during an interview.

Because how we see the world dramatically influences how we go about life, the Enneagram Personality  test is a great way to see how your sales manager will work and lead. For example, if they struggle with  limiting beliefs, it might be hard for them to bring the best out of your sales team. 

Developed by Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, the Enneagram Personality test uses a 9-point model to showcase the candidate’s core beliefs. 

The nine types are as follows: 

  1. Type One – Improver: Type One focuses on getting things done. They have a strong sense of justice and work hard to maintain high standards.

  2. Type Two – Giver: Type Two is generous and warm. They value harmony, teamwork, and satisfying interpersonal relationships above all else. 

  3. Type Three – Go-getter: The Go-getter focuses on success. Known for their pragmatic, ambitious, and status-conscious nature, they make charming and adaptable leaders. 

  4. Type Four – Contemplator: The Contemplator is a bit of a loner. They’re the quiet kid in the back of the class that loves to draw. As leaders, they are self-aware and emotionally intelligent.  

  5. Type Five – Pioneer: The Pioneer is who you go to for creative problem-solving. They’re insightful and curious innovators who thrive on building their knowledge and solving complex puzzles. 

  6. Type Six – Devoted: Type Six is dependable and known as a team player. They create secure environments where they promote hard work, trust, pragmatism, and reliability. 

  7. Type Seven – Cheerleader: The Cheerleader is chatty, upbeat, and optimistic. They bring positive energy into the workplace, develop practical and fun solutions to complex problems, and put love into their work. 

  8. Type Eight – Master: The Master is confident, ambitious, and decisive. They are born to challenge limiting beliefs and profit margins. They’re also powerful motivators. 

  9. Type Nine – Agreeable: The Aggreable provides a stable and calming presence in the office. They’re creative, trusting, and supportive. They’re also known for being easy to talk to. 

Most people have one primary type and a few lesser types. The test explores the relationship between the results, providing an in-depth overview of how these core beliefs affect each other. 

This test is beneficial if you know what type of sales manager your company needs.

One thing to keep in mind – you should never base your hiring decisions on the results of a personality test. They are designed to give more insight into a candidate’s personality traits, preferred working style, their worldview, and how they may deal with certain situations.

How we can help you find the best sales manager

For a business to succeed, it needs an excellent and comitted sales manager. A great sales manager uses communication, task delegation, active listening, time management, and sales strategies to motivate their team and increase sales. 

Use our candidate screening tests to find the sales manager that meets this criteria. These tests help you find the sales manager with the potential and the drive to improve your sales teams and increase profit margins.

Sign up for your free plan with us and get immediate, full access to 10 of our most popular skills tests (including all the personality tests in our library) for free.

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