You have a sales manager — or maybe it's you — who manages sales. But what's that job all about?

First off, it's misnamed. He (or she) doesn't manage sales so much as manage people. In a nutshell, the sales manager interviews, evaluates, hires, and then trains the fledgling salesperson while upgrading the skills of those who have been in the job for longer periods and handling the grizzled veteran.

Personal profiles, for hiring purposes, can vastly improve performance of all these tasks.

HEART OF THE JOB A sales manager must have a job description that clearly defines his management responsibilities. Weekly, monthly, and annual performance goals have to be established, and the veteran sales manager participates in creating these.

A major responsibility is grading each salesperson's performance in the key aspects of that job. Reps should be ranked on sit/presentation and close rate against leads issued, estimating and pricing the job efficiently, net retention rate, and referrals generated.

Within these categories are subsets, all of which can be graded 1 through 5. That lets management determine how to help salespeople overcome stumbling blocks.

An efficient sales manager does “ride alongs” with salespeople, measuring the proficiency of each step in the presentation. To not do so seriously impairs sales management.

INSPIRE AND LEAD In small-to-midsize companies, the sales manager takes responsibility for “rehash” leads. And a bonus or reduced commission rate is provided to contribute to the sales manager's income. This also acts as a motivator for weaker salespeople to close the deal before the lead is turned in for rehash.

An effective sales manager leads the team and serves as a mentor to those he manages. In today's changing marketplace, the selection and growth of the sales manager is crucial.

—Dave Yoho is president of the oldest, largest, and most successful consulting group serving the home improvement industry;; 703.591.2490.