Sales organizations talk about the changes in buyer behavior and the evolution of sales processes in general over the years, but the changing role of sales leaders isn’t often discussed.
Sales leaders have an important role in carrying the responsibility for the success or failure of their sales teams. In this competitive industry where new technology surfaces every day, it can be challenging to keep up with new trends while also maintaining a sales process that works for your team.
Successful sales leaders are competitive, energetic, driven, passionate, communicative, inspiring, etc. Great sales leaders take these traits and combine it with their knowledge of the current sales scene as they integrate new technologies for modern selling. These leaders who are ready to take on this challenge are what high-growth startups need today.
1. Analytical and process-driven
Modern sales are data-driven. Sales leaders need insight and clear data to see which strategies are working and which ones aren’t. This allows them to identify which part of the sales process needs improvement and helps them to create a more effective coaching strategy for their team. But utilizing technologies that collect necessary data is one thing, analyzing and generating an action plan out of the data collected is another.
2. Innovative and Strategic
The sales team’s goals must be aligned with the company’s growth strategy so that it’s easier to achieve their objectives. Sales leaders should visualize their team’s success together with their company’s growth. They seek out new and innovative ways to achieve maximum results through efficient methods and by using less resources.
3. Good listener
Modern sales leaders know how to listen. It’s how they uncover their customer’s problems, which they need in order to formulate a better, more personalized sales pitch. Aside from that, they’re also keen to their team’s challenges. They don’t just hear what their sales reps talk about during 1:1s, they’re also aware of what’s happening outside of their sales meetings when it comes to their team’s performance.
When one of the team members is underperforming, a leader’s approach is to look at the stats and formulate an action plan based on the data in front of him. They also look beyond just the numbers. They determine the underlying issues that might be affecting a sales rep’s performance.
4. Effective delegator
Leaders don’t become effective by doing everything on their own. They delegate tasks and assign responsibilities to each member of the team. Distributing the workload to the entire team allows them to focus on more important tasks. But delegating isn’t simply assigning random tasks to whoever’s available. Good leaders know the strengths and skills of each team member. They designate certain tasks according to the abilities of each member of the team.
5. Firm and Decisive
Moving into a leadership role means larger responsibilities. Sales leaders do a lot of decision-making and the team needs to know they can rely on their leader’s judgment, especially when going through huge transitions. A good sales leader knows how to ask for the team’s opinions and ideas but at the end of the day, the final decision is still up to him/her.
6. Organized and resourceful
In today’s sales landscape, managing a team of salespeople is such a complex task that it’s an extra challenge to keep up with the activities inside and outside work. It can get overwhelming more often than expected but a good sales leader never falls behind. They’re always on top of everything. But you don’t expect them to have superpowers. They just know what needs to be done and put the tools at their disposal to good use.
7. Excellent motivator
Sometimes, reps don’t hit their quotas no matter how much effort they put in. And stress and anxiety often arise at the end of the month. This is why they say sales is not for the faint-hearted. But even the tough ones do feel discouraged at times. It is during these moments that a leader needs to step up and motivate the team.
8. Coach-like mindset
Good leaders not only have the ability to coach, but they enjoy doing so. They don’t resort to an authoritative dynamic towards their employees. Authoritative leaders assume their team members respond well to straightforward instructions. This approach is too one-sided and it doesn’t foster a mutually beneficial relationship between the manager and direct report. Coaching is more about developing each member of your team to take on increasing levels of responsibility. They’re not just managing people to be excellent sellers, they’re also shaping them up to be future sales leaders.
9. An eye for sales talent
Sales leaders can identify potential a-players from miles away. But more than that, a good sales leader looks past the credentials and focuses more on a candidate’s desire to learn and succeed. It’s true that while a lot of successful salespeople have innate selling skills, nothing can beat one’s determination to learn, improve, and excel. Some candidates may lack experience in the field but a good sales leader will be able to guide them to succeed.
Sales leadership is undoubtedly a challenging undertaking, especially in this ever-changing industry. High-growth companies need sales leaders who embody these qualities and care enough for their team and their company’s overall growth.