Sales managers wear a number of hats as a part of their work. They have a hand in incentive compensation management (ICM), aligning sales and business goals, hiring, coaching and everything in between. While some managers may be adept at one or two things, they have to at least be able to do it all effectively. If managers don't have the skillset for the job, they probably shouldn't have been promoted to that position in the first place.

Of particular importance is sales managers' ability to coach and better the performance of their agents. Some leaders tend to be "firefighersof sorts, running between different problem areas and trying to put out fires. They are always looking at the next reporting period and applying bandages to current problems, rather than taking the time to actually fix them.

Sales managers need to be involved with their agents, helping them to identify weaknesses in their performances and finding skills they could capitalize on. Without a strong manager presence, bad habits will proliferate and end up costing businesses in terms of revenue and overall production.

"If your managers don't know how to coach (or are simply not making time for it), you're almost certainly cultivating discontent among your reps," Selling Power explains. "So perhaps it’s no surprise that research from Oracle (quoted by Chuck Penfield at the most recent Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference in San Francisco) has indicated that 89 percent of sales reps want more coaching from their managers."

Many sales teams hire third-party experts to help with sales coaching initiatives. After all, if business leaders have a full plate of matters to deal with, they may need some assistance in helping to train their lead agents. At the same time, it's also up to these leaders to work with agents to ensure this coaching is reinforced afterward.

PI Worldwide president Nancy Martini, has noted the role sales managers play in successful sales coaching. She claims leaders who aren't invested in the process will miss out on the full potential that sales coaching can bring to the table. Companies looking to build effective and productive sales teams also need to have managers who are involved with the coaching process.