Sales managers are professional business leaders responsible for guiding and directing a team of salespeople in a firm or organization. They typically set sales goals & quotas, build sales plans, analyze data, are involved in the hiring and firing process, and mentor their sales team members. A sales manager’s responsibilities will often vary with the size of the organization they work in. However, most sales managers oversee the distribution of services and goods by assigning sales territories, establishing training programs for an organization’s sales representatives, and setting and monitoring sales goals.
In some industries, sales managers will hire, recruit, and train new sales team members. They advise sales representatives on strategies for improving their sales performance. In large multiproduct firms, they oversee local and regional sales managers and their respective staffs. Sales managers are also responsible for staying in contact with dealers and distributors. They will analyze sales statistics that their team collects to determine the sales potential and inventory requirements of retail outlets and products and monitor customer tendencies.
With so many responsibilities, it is no wonder that sales managers must continue to educate themselves even after pursuing an undergraduate and graduate degree in sales management. Here are some of the best free resources for sales managers that can be used to help them stay at the top of their game.
Connecting with Sales Prospects Course
Northwestern University offers online students a free distance course within its Art of Sales Specialization. This second course of the study is called Connecting with Sales Prospects. CEO and clinical professor Craig Wortmann teaches the free class.
This course teaches business students how to run high-impact gatherings and meetings that create complete separation between the sales professional and everyone else a customer comes into contact with. This four-week course shows students how to anticipate and handle sales objections and covers the importance of asking better questions. Week four examines one of the most potent influence tools that a sales professional has – the ability to tell the right story at the right time for all the right reasons. Stories provide two crucial things that facts do not; emotion and context. The ability to contextualize a venture in one’s selling efforts is vital, just as connecting to emotions influences decision-making. This stellar course is the perfect free tool for sales managers who desire to stay sharp in the field.
Ethical Decision Making: Cultural and Environmental Impact Course
International organizations and companies can trigger significant environmental impacts and cultural shifts. For example, when a foreign corporation sets up a large mineral extraction operation in a developing country, both culture and environment are significantly altered. Ethical concerns arise when unethical marketing techniques mislead foreign customers, especially when they include potentially harmful products.
In the Georgetown University course entitled Ethical Decision Making: Cultural and Environmental Impact, students will consider this kind of global influence’s ethics. Answers to questions like when international marketing practices can be noted for increasing consumers’ choices, instead of being criticized for making dubious claims? What should a foreign corporation’s role play in developing countries’ decisions about economic growth and environmental conservation? In exploring these issues within this free course, students will consider competing viewpoints and apply multiple ethical analysis perspectives. This is just one of Georgetown’s excellent free resources for sales managers.
Hubspot Sales Blog
Some believe that to grow a business, one has to be ruthless. The leaders at Hubspot think that there is a better way to grow. Hubspot adheres to the notion that what’s right for the bottom line can also benefit customers. In the organization’s belief that businesses can succeed with a soul and grow with a conscience, it presents free articles on sales practices through its website. Through its resource center, Hubspot has also created a platform uniting software, community, and education to help businesses grow stronger every day.
Hubspot is founded on the “inbound” principle, which claims that, instead of being interrupted by marketers or harassed by salespeople, people want to be helped. Hubspot writers contribute articles that challenge readers’ notions of what is right for business and sales. Some of the articles found on the company’s site include “The Salesperson’s Guide to the Soft Sale,” “Ten Sales Proposal Templates to Automate the Closing Process,” and “The Ultimate Guide to Sales Qualification.” HubSpot is an excellent resource for professionals wanting a fresh perspective on sales and sales management.
Marketing Analytics Course
To be successful, marketing professionals need to understand and forecast how customers purchase services and products and how they typically respond to marketing initiatives. Columbia University currently offers a free college-level course in marketing called Marketing Analytics for distance learners. This free course allows online students the chance to learn how analytics help organizations drive marketing to optimize return on investment (ROI) and maximize their effectiveness. The course is part of the Business Analytics MicroMasters program.
Columbia professors Asim Ansari and Kamel Jedidi team up to deliver this course. Their intent is for students to discover how to build quantitative models that leverage statistical computation, business data, and machine learning to forecast marketing and sales impact within value creation, customer relationship management, market segmentation, communication, and monetization. The curriculum within this free course also covers probabilistic models and optimization resources to model Lifetime Value, customer demand forecasts, pricing sensitivity, and how to leverage such data to make decisions on designing new strategies, products, and marketing segmentation. Budding sales managers will find this free course from Columbia useful for their academic and professional development.
The Sales Enablement Podcast
Podcasts continue to grow across the nation as more and more consumers rely on them for entertainment, education, personal health, and business growth. The benefit of podcasts for many in sales and sales management is that listeners can flexibly take process information as they work out, go for a walk, wash dishes, or enjoy a daily commute to work.
RingDNA is an entity that currently offers a cohesive revenue acceleration platform specializing in the delivery of powerful and easy-to-use experiences for every sales role. One such resource that RingDNA provides as a free learning tool for sales professionals is The Sales Enablement Podcast. Listeners of this podcast are exposed to some of the best and brightest minds in the world of sales. With many downloads and over 750 episodes of candid, inspiring conversations with business’ most exciting sales leaders, the Sales Enablement Podcast explores crucial insights, perspectives, technologies, and skills that enable excellent sales performance. This podcast is a must for anyone serious about sales.
Sales Force Management Course
Sales force management is an essential topic for sales managers. Building and maintaining a team of sales personnel are significant parts of what leaders in this position are responsible for. West Virginia University currently offers a five-part course within its Sales Operations/Management Specialization. Course Two of this five-part series is entitled Sales Force Management. Instructors Michael F. Walsh, Emily C. Tanner, and Suzanne C. Bal team up to guide students through this university’s free course.
Sales Force Management exposes students to the various aspects of personnel administration and hiring. Students will also learn about job design and recruitment processes, the role of training in salesforce development, recruitment tools, and how to motivate salespeople to perform the tasks needed to ensure an organization’s success. This four-week course features between nine and eleven videos each week with several quizzes that help students retain course content. This course from West Virginia is a top-shelf course for sales managers and is entirely free.
Salesman.org Video Sales Training
Imagine a six-week online program that sales representatives and managers could use to learn more about their craft. Now imagine a resource like that being 100% free. Enter salesman.org. This online resource is a six-week online program that includes free worksheets, sales skill assessments, scenario practice tools, and access to a community of sales professionals and experts.
The website shows students how to crush their sales quotas from scratch. Salesman.org is for new and experienced salespeople who sell B2B services and products. The free program works for all salespeople, regardless of their previous experience or knowledge. The Salesman.org platform is 100% online and includes all kinds of resources that business students and working professionals will find easy to use and helpful. Program participants complete tasks online, on their own time. Since salesman.org is an online program, it enjoys a rolling start date. Students can complete it on their personal timetable and work through it as slow or as fast as they wish. Students also get lifetime access to this free resource for salespeople and sales managers.
Selling Power Magazine Webinars
While print magazines and newspapers continue to go the way of the horse and buggy, some publications have adapted to the fact that subscribers are much more prone to read an article on their phone than on the printed page. Selling Power is one such magazine that has gotten with the times and now publishes resources online for today’s modern salespeople and sales managers. In addition to the digital magazine, Personal Selling Power Inc. is the umbrella company that also produces Daily Boost of Positivity e-newsletters and Sales Management Digest. Selling Power has been the nation’s leading digital magazine for sales VPs and sales managers for nearly forty years.
The webinars available on the magazine’s website include titles like Six Steps to Transition to Buyer-Centric Selling, The Three Control Levers to Customer-Centric Sales Success, and Transform Your Team into Top Performing Virtual Sellers: What They Must Do to Win. These webinars are an excellent free resource for anyone interested in a career in sales.
Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills Course
All people negotiate daily. Personally, we negotiate with family, friends, landlords, employers, car dealers, and many more. Negotiation is the key to business success. No business can stay successful without profitable contracts. Within an organization, negotiation skills can lead to career advancement. With some of these concepts in mind, and many others available to enrolled students, the University of Michigan provides a free online course for sales managers and sales professionals called Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills.
This four-week course includes between two and ten videos each week and will take students approximately thirty minutes to just over two hours to complete each lesson. Section titles include Welcome to Successful Negotiation, Prepare: Plan Your Negotiation Strategy, Negotiate: Use Key Tactics for Success, and Close: Create a Contract. Professor of Business Law George Siedel teaches this free course to online students interested in learning more about how negotiation affects sales and sales management.
Victor Antonio’s YouTube Channel
Victor Antonio is a business keynote speaker who happens to be living proof that the American success story is alive and well. This sales conference speaker maintains a proven track record of delivering motivation and content to salespeople all over the country. His poor upbringing in inner-city Chicago didn’t stop Victor from pursuing a BS in Electrical Engineering and then an MBA before building a twenty-year career as a top executive of a multimillion-dollar high-tech organization.
It makes perfect sense that Victor Antoni would offer sales managers and sales professionals the chance to glean information from him within the context of a YouTube channel called Sales & Motivation. This business channel enjoys a following of over 190,000 subscribers. The site has been viewed by over sixteen million consumers who want to know how to get to the top in a sales position. Video titles include Influencing Decision Makers, The Risky Business of Hiring Sales Stars, and When to Send Emails. This free YouTube channel is a must for sales professionals.
One of the most significant ways to become a successful sales manager is to find ways to stand out from the competition and become your employer’s natural choice for promotion. Besides pursuing degrees like an undergraduate program in sales or an MBA in sales management, it is essential to understand that learning and growing are responsibilities for business management. These free resources for sales managers help them to stay on top of their game. Here are a few steps that potential sales managers need to take to become marketable and component in the role:
Know Yourself and Address Your Attitude
Too often, top-performing salespeople start believing the hype about their performance or position. Thinking you are the most essential member of your team is a pitfall that can make promotion difficult. Keeping a healthy perspective means focusing on the two aspects of your attitude, which are committing to be a team player and working to stay positive. Working in sales is a challenge with pressure to perform and quotas that need to be met. Employers want sales managers who have the organization’s best interests at heart and who can rise above circumstances to improve team morale.
Master the Art of Giving and Receiving Quality Feedback
Sales managers need to be able to inspire and motivate so that sales personnel will perform. By taking emotion out of the equation, good coworkers can take criticism constructively and objectively. Once a team member learns the art of welcoming feedback without feeling threatened, she will be more likely to share feedback positively.
Look for a Mentor
There is no such thing as a “self-made business professional.” Everyone at one time or another needs support and at least the opportunity to prove their value. Potential sales managers who lack a mentor have to work twice as hard to obtain the role. A mentor who possesses a decision-making role within an organization and has accomplished a solid education like an MBA in sales management will prove to be a real asset and great support.
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