As a sales manager, you have a big impact on the success of each member of your team, and your team knows it. Research has shown that 69% of salespeople who exceed quota rate their sales manager as ‘excellent’ or ‘above average’. While it’s great to be recognized, ultimate sales leaders don’t do it for the glory, they live to inspire their team to achieve greatness and know how to push all the right buttons to help them succeed.
While most good sales leaders have high-achieving teams, they have a lot more in common. Here are some of the sales leader traits that make the difference between being good and being an ultimate sales leader.
Lead for the long-term
No sales team is successful based on one deal. A good sales team requires a long-term and strategic approach and it’s up to their sales leader to provide the big picture. Great sales leaders develop a sales playbook with vision and makes sure there team follows it to achieve their end goal. The playbook looks at every aspect of the sales process, from prospecting to closing and communicates a clear plan on how they will achieve it.
While any manager can write a playbook, what separates great leaders is their ability to set the vision, communicate it and follow through. They don’t chop and change their mind or confuse their team. They communicate the plan clearly and make sure everyone understands what it means for them and for their customers. They also define clear development plans for their people and deliver on them.
After all, sales are only successful if the customer wins, and ultimate sales leaders know this and make sure the customer is front and center of their vision.
Be motivated by the end goal
Sales is a numbers game and the best sales leaders never allow their team to take their eye off the prize – achieving target. To achieve the sales leader may have to put themselves in a position where they absorb any noise, distractions, and negativity that may bring their team down. They’re good listeners and know how to remove roadblocks or just lend an ear when a salesperson needs to vent.
What sets an ultimate sales leader apart is their ability to know when to step in and fix something, and when to let it go. This requires good judgment and an understanding of what things can actually make a difference to sales results, and what are just irritations that are having minimal impact.
Hire the right people
Nothing wastes more time than hiring the wrong salesperson.That’s why good sales leaders take the time to recruit the right people and onboard them properly. There’s no time for bad recruits or sales reps that are struggling to ramp up in a high-achieving sales organization.
Hiring the right people is a skill. You can’t just look at someone’s CV and know they’re perfect for the job. It takes good judgment and instinct to know whether someone has the skill to build strong relationships and help customers find the right solution. Great sales leaders know how to spot someone who can close a deal or know when to fold and move on to better opportunities.
They can also identify potential where others may not notice. This means they don’t spend countless hours, weeks and months trying to get a salesperson to quota when they just don’t have the capability to make it. They can then devote their energies to other tasks that will make a difference when it comes to helping their salespeople achieve success.
Coach with passion
Salespeople are hungry to sell and have a thirst for anything that will help them do it better. Ultimate sales leaders not only know this, but they know how to tap into this desire and help their salespeople channel it. One of the best ways to improve how reps sell is to take them on a journey of discovery and learning about their profession through mentoring and coaching. In fact, dynamic coaching can improve win rates by up to 27.6%.
Structured coaching helps salespeople improve how they approach customers, manage their sales funnel and close deals. But to really make a difference, sales leaders need to customize their coaching programs to meet the individual needs of each sales rep. After all, different reps need different types of coaching. An astute sales leader will determine the best approach for the individual and adapt their coaching plan for it, whether it’s going out to sales calls with them or scenario-based coaching.
Ultimate sales leaders know that coaching is good for their team, but they also are passionate about it. They embrace the opportunity to tap into the needs of each rep and build a cadence for sales coaching. This allows ultimate sales leaders to build momentum and ensure their sales team grows and prospers.
Empower everyone through accountability
75% of high-performing sales managers hold their salespeople accountable for their quota, compared to 58% of underperforming managers. But it takes a lot more than tracking your sales reps quotas to make them accountable.
Great sales leaders strive to achieve consistency in all aspects of the sales team, from following process to the message that customers hear. They do this by empowering their team through data and process.
Research shows that 43% of high-performing sales managers have a sales process that’s closely monitored, strictly enforced, or automated, compared to 29% of underperforming sales managers.
The key to keeping a sales team accountable is in the data. They set transparent performance criteria and use this to monitor and assess their team. There are no surprises, but there’s also no room for ambiguity.
Ultimate sales leaders don’t focus on lagging reports, they’re driven by data that shows them what their reps are doing today and how they can improve tomorrow. This information can then be used to both improve and inspire reps by identifying knowledge and skill gaps before they become problems and rewarding achievements straight away.
Empowering and rewarding reps is important for accountability. It keeps high performers accountable for their achievements, gives them control over their own development, and puts a fire in the belly of the laggards who also want their peers to see their name in lights.
Listen and communicate with care
Last but certainly not least, a true leader cares about the welfare of their charges. They don’t want to take the glory for themselves, they want each individual to learn, improve and for them to succeed together. By demonstrating that they care about their team, ultimate sales leaders gain the respect and trust of their reps. This helps them open up and be honest about their concerns and fears. With this knowledge, sales leaders can then help their reps become even better at selling.
The reality is that ultimate sales leaders don’t spend their time sitting behind a desk and watching the sales come in. They’re part of the team and in the trenches with their salespeople. Whenever a shot is fired they’re there – leading the way and giving them the support they need to win each and every battle.