Sales managers are one thing, but sales leaders are something else entirely. The latter is ideal, but most people aren’t natural-born leaders. That’s okay. If you put in the work, you can learn leadership skills.
If you work in sales management, your sales team is relying on you. You have a responsibility to serve them to the best of your ability.
Every part of the sales process improves with better leadership. That usually means the benefits will pass on to your clients, too. When you function as a team builder, everyone wins.
As the leader of a sales team, you’re the bridge between your team and senior leadership too. Intermediate-level managers are the glue that holds a company together. When the sales cycle operates smoothly, it’s due in no small part to your actions as a leader.
Unfortunately, that goes both ways. If the sales process is suffering, you’re going to be the one who takes the blame. Part of leading is being held accountable for the actions of everyone for whom you’re responsible. Let this drive you to work harder and be a better servant leader.
If you aren’t satisfied, you don’t have to accept the status quo. A sales coach or leadership workshop can offer you a fresh perspective. With new ideas, you can drive your team forward toward success.
If you are not in a leadership position right now, but you’d like to be, then this article is for you. The leadership skills we’re going to cover are excellent for professional development.
By building these skills, you can fast-track your career. You’ll become a more valuable employee.
7 Daily Sales Leadership Practices
You don’t have the time to learn, let alone put in place to practice every leadership idea in existence. You would never get anything else done if you tried. It’s important to acknowledge that impossibility. However, there are a few foundational elements you can apply every single day.
Over time, your practice will become a habit, and your leadership skills will improve. Even great leaders can benefit from refreshing their training and learning new techniques. The following seven leadership practices are among the most helpful.
Coach Your Team Members Consistently
No one is perfect, but everyone can grow and improve if you give them the opportunity. That’s where you come in. As a sales leader, you can help your team address their weaknesses. You can also reinforce their strengths.
Providing consistent, constructive coaching for your team is one of the best leadership actions you can take. Job satisfaction and performance are likely to be higher across the board when you offer effective coaching.
You can offer coaching in a few different ways. The first and most common is giving feedback during performance reviews. It’s essential that the feedback you offer is constructive. If team members feel baselessly criticized, they’re more likely to give up than they are to work harder.
You can also offer coaching in the field. By this, I mean hopping on a call or attending a meeting with your sales representative. When you do this, you can see your team in action. You’ll get an in-depth understanding of how they operate.
Another popular method of coaching is to do roleplay training scenarios. This way, you and your team can operate in a low-stakes environment. There’s no risk, but they still have an opportunity to practice skills.
Use Your Voice and Take Accountability
Companies are complex and composed of a lot of moving parts. As a leader, you represent your team. You can advocate for them within the organization. You might not always advocate successfully, and that’s okay. Knowing you’re on their side will improve team morale.
Sometimes interdepartmental communication is necessary. If that’s the case, it’s easier to stay organized when your team members go through you. Keeping everyone in the loop means eliminating wasted time and effort.
Your team shouldn’t rely on you to interact with other parts of the company too heavily. If it makes sense, try to help build relationships across departments. Your organization will be stronger for it.
Accountability is part of using your voice as a leader. When your team knows they can trust you to listen to them, everything will operate more smoothly.
Inspire Rather Than Order
There are countless articles, books and training programs available on the differences between managing and leading. In the end, the main difference between the two is how employees view communication with their superiors.
Managers produce results by giving orders. They rely on their authority to achieve obedience. It’s a formulaic process.
For comparison, leaders still outline deliverables and goals, but they inspire their employees. Rather than meeting expectations, employees go above and beyond.
Knowing how to communicate is the number one way you can become a leader rather than a manager. A stunning 91 percent of employees do not think their managers are good communicators.
So, how do you communicate? How can you reach your employees rather than simply instructing them?
If you don’t know what motivates your employees, you won’t communicate successfully with them. Look for the internal and external factors that drive them. Then, use those factors to help your employees engage with their tasks.
Working in sales is challenging. If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it. Part of your job as a sales leader is to be there for your team. Sometimes they need someone to vent to when things are difficult.
You want your employees to feel comfortable approaching you with their problems. When they do, you can usually help solve them. Even if you can’t, your employees will feel more secure in their role and around you.
For the most efficiency, focus primarily on problem-solving rather than complaining. When you remove one issue, your entire team will reap the benefits. Productivity will increase.
It’s essential that you maintain a positive attitude while problem-solving. Your employees will take their cues from you and your behavior. When you’re optimistic, they’ll be optimistic too. Believing something is possible is the first step to accomplishing it.
It can be challenging to strike a balance between professionalism and working interpersonal relationships. People in leadership positions often find this particularly difficult.
The strength of a working relationship can make or break a team, but where’s the line? When you are a leader, you are not just a boss. You’re a confidante, a manager, a friend, a source of inspiration and so much more. You’re also a giver of constructive criticism and a disciplinarian when the situation calls for it.
In short, you fill a range of vital roles. When you perform them each authentically, it helps build trust with your team. That doesn’t mean doing so is easy, but it’s worth it.
You can’t ask your team to be open and honest with you if you don’t return the favor. You want your team to believe what you say, not regard it as management babble. A leader who interacts with their team authentically will win their loyalty. You’ll also improve engagement.
Authenticity is another skill that will likely transfer to interactions with customers. Unfortunately, we’ve all had experiences with workers who clearly didn’t care about their role. We’ve also all known hard-working, dedicated employees that took service and made it an experience. Clients can tell, and they’ll appreciate working with someone who wants to work with them.
Turn Visions Into Reality
Every company has values and vision it wants to achieve. True leaders represent these values and make these visions a reality. It’s more complicated than you might think.
Most organizations have a value statement outlining their priorities. It’s usually just a sentence or two, though, so there’s room for interpretation. There’s also room for error.
Once again, clear communication is necessary. You must also lead by example. Lower-level employees aren’t always invested in anything beyond their paycheck. However, if your sales team members see that you’re passionate about the company’s values, they will be too.
Part of setting an example for your team means being willing to embrace changes. Embracing change might be one of the most challenging aspects of being a leader. It’s human nature to get comfortable and settle for what works. If you want your team to thrive, though, change has to happen.
That’s not to say that you should go with the flow and encourage your team to do the same. Every action you take should be well-thought-out and have a clear purpose. A value statement gives you direction. The rest is up to you.
Reframe Failures As Learning Opportunities
Success is never a guarantee. However, failure doesn’t have to spell the end of things. Instead, reframe failures as learning opportunities.
No one likes to fail, of course, but it happens. When it does, try to fail forward. Failing forward, in addition to failing fast and often, is a central tenet of the Silicon Valley mentality. It’s not a perfect philosophy. It does highlight the importance of failure as a learning opportunity, though.
When I say failing forward, I mean focusing on why you failed, not just how. Knowing how you failed is simple. In most cases, you didn’t meet a goal or deadline.
Knowing why you failed is much more complicated. Often, there are a variety of factors that contributed. When you identify them, you can avoid them in the future.
Avoiding past mistakes is no guarantee that you won’t make new ones, but that’s what progress is. Eventually, you’ll achieve your goal and be a better employee, leader and person for it.
Learning from failure also builds resilience. It can be tempting to give up when you don’t get something right the first time. When you look at a failure as a lesson, though, you give it purpose. It’s not a waste of time, it’s an opportunity.
This way, you show your team that failures are learning opportunities. They’ll be less afraid of failure. When your team isn’t scared to fail, innovation thrives. Trying new things doesn’t always work, but you won’t know unless you try. When you succeed, you can transform an entire industry.
The Truth About Making Sales Leadership Effective
If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking that none of these skills are new. If you’ve read a book or taken a class on leadership, you’ve heard of them. That’s because they work. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel, after all.
Despite how well-known these skills are, many people struggle to build and apply them. That’s why there’s still a market for leadership training and will be for years to come.
With enough effort, anyone can become an effective sales leader. Pick a goal and work toward it. Start implementing one of these suggestions. Add more as you grow more confident and successful. Eventually, you’ll unconsciously incorporate them all into your daily routine.
The Value of a Sales Leader
In one study, 69 percent of salespeople who exceeded their yearly quota said their manager was above average. Correlation doesn’t equal causation by any means, but that’s a definite sign that there’s a connection there. Leaders who perform well have teams that follow their example.
Effective leadership at all levels is the backbone of every organization. Without it, productivity decreases, and conflicts arise.
Managers who successfully become leaders often incorporate servant leadership characteristics into their leadership style. Servant leaders focus on serving their employees and clients alike. This strategy often leads to more success than a results-oriented leadership approach.
Sales are how your company makes money. That means sales effectiveness is essential to your long-term success. Sales leaders are valuable for precisely this reason.
Born from the chaos resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Selling Revolution’s goal is to drive long-term success for you. With customizable services and more than 40 years of experience, we can help you achieve exponential growth.
You’re already successful, but we want to help take your business to the next level. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for sales training or strategy aid, media buying, advertising or other aspects of sales. You can book a call with Selling Revolution today, and we’ll help your business thrive.