Is there a formula for great sales leadership? Perhaps not, but all great sales leaders share common characteristics that enable them to achieve great sales success.
Over my 25 year corporate career I have had the pleasure of working for (and with) a number of great sales leaders. Highly inspirational people who developed compelling sales strategies and empowered people to succeed. These leaders were able to achieve extraordinary success for their people and for the business. Of course I also encountered less than inspirational sales leaders who struggled to consistently achieve extraordinary success.
Over time I recognized that these great sales leaders possessed similar characteristics. Six personal qualities (6P) that leaders need to “BE” in order to create dynamic sales cultures …. and four core competencies (4C) those leaders need to “DO” in order to drive greater sales growth.
Accordingly, based on these characteristics you could suggest that the winning formula for great sales leadership is:
6P x 4C = 1 Great Sales Leader
Whilst I acknowledge that creating a formula for great sales leadership seems futile, let’s further explore these ideal qualities and competencies to determine their relevance.
Strong sales leaders are imbued with moral principles and ethics that are modeled throughout their daily interactions with their sales people and clients. The ethics of great leadership are widely known – honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trustworthiness, etc – but great sales leaders consistently evaluate their behavior and impact whilst influencing others to also maintain high ethical standards. Good sales people and valued clients are attracted to these leaders.
“Passionate” is widely used to describe powerful leaders but how is this quality best applied when it comes to sales. Passionate sales leaders enthusiastically execute their sales strategy and confidently promote the products/services of the company. More importantly, they are passionate about understanding their team’s motivations and guiding them to achieve corporate and personal success.
A genuine interest in the development of their sales people is essential for success. Great sales leaders consistently praise and coach their team, no matter how experienced, to develop the skills, behaviors and beliefs that promote sales excellence. A “team-first” approach that promotes a collaborative, inclusive and supportive culture.
Great sales leaders instinctively develop highly collaborative and detailed sales plans that outline the what, how and why of sales excellence. They develop key measurables and persistently execute and evaluate the plan on a regular basis.
Behavioral studies denote that we all have a dominant leadership style; however great sales leaders recognize the importance of adopting a flexible approach to leading their sales teams. Typically a learned discipline that enables them to moderate their style to ensure at any time they can energize, enable, agitate or enforce their people to effectively execute their sales plan.
Leading sales people to effectively deliver the goals outlined in the sales plan requires a degree of patience. Protracted results may challenge them or competing management priorities may distract them, but great sales leaders have confidence in their plan and their team to patiently persevere. Of course they are also aware of when to simply replace patience with revised planning and/or better coaching.
Strong sales leaders always provide great clarity. Nothing can be clearer than that (excuse the pun). I fondly recall a great sales leader I once worked for consistently reminding me about the importance of providing clear direction, and he was right. It is essential for sales leaders to provide clarity on the specific growth strategy of the business and resourcing requirements – including roles and responsibilities. Sales teams with clear and specific strategic direction always outperform teams without.
Great sales leaders who invest time in identifying key activities and skills required for success generally create highly confident teams. They meet with their sales people to understanding their expectations and challenge any limiting beliefs that may impact their confidence.
Many sales leaders hold regular weekly sales meetings and/or periodic catch-ups with their salespeople. More often than not there is a limited (or no) agenda and no formal coaching provided, leaving the sales team somewhat uninspired. Great sales leaders formally adopt a consistent coaching cadence – coupling regular performance reviews with quality training – that inspires dynamic sales conversations and greater team success.
MIT professor Edward Schein described culture as the “way you do things”. Every sales business has a culture. Some better than others and the key difference for most organizations is the sales leader’s attention to processes and people.
So is there really a formula for great sales leadership? Perhaps not …. but understanding the key qualities and actions you require to be a great sales leader and achieve extraordinary success is important. Work with your team to understand what they are seeking from their sales leader and take active steps to create your own winning formula.
Article written by Joe Micallef – Sales Strategist & Coach – Grow UP Sales. For sales leadership coaching and guidance contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the webpage www.growupsales.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @growupsales