The success of a sales team is linked to the effectiveness of its leader. Let’s take a look at the key qualities that are vital to success.
Sales Leader Qualities
There are as many sales leadership styles as there are individual leaders. While some sales leaders prefer a hands-on approach, others choose to give their teams control and as it were, watch from the sidelines.
I personally love coaching my team here at PipelineDeals. They are a great group. They love to learn and be better at what they do. We dive into good sales reads each quarter too and discuss it in book club style. Last quarter we read The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon.
Regardless of the choice of leadership style that you may have, there are a number of traits that can make leadership much easier and more effective.
In this post, I’ll analyze the most vital qualities of a sales leader that could mark the difference between a good leader and a great one.
1. Leading by Example
One of the most important qualities of a sales leader is the ability to practice what one preaches. It is easy to speak about the importance of respect and trust. But it is much harder to earn them.
A great leader will not strive to make herself look good. Rather, she will focus on doing what she needs to do to equip her team for success. Similarly, she will not hesitate to sacrifice her time and energy for the sake of the team.
She will also continue to interact with customers so as to be in a position to lead by experience. As she continues to sell, she can effectively show team members how to overcome obstacles and how to articulate the value of products and services.
Sales leaders are managers at the core and should take time to empathize with the unique circumstances of each team member. They will treat salespeople as more than just a stream of revenue.
Taking time to comprehend and empathize with reports will show that a leader cares. By striving to understand the motivation, life goals and current situation in the lives of team members, they will gain trust. In turn, this will drive productivity.
3. Coaching Skills
A lot of the qualities of sales leaders are comparable to those of professional coaches. A great sales leader strives to build on the strengths of team members while improving their weaknesses.
They will first learn more about the salesperson and then try to implement a sales strategy that suits them. By fully exploiting their strengths and downplaying weaknesses, they will contribute significantly to building individual abilities and talents.
This will not only drive productivity but will also accelerate growth and job satisfaction. It will also help the leader to forecast sales accurately and detect deals that could have problems in the sales pipeline.
A great sales leader acknowledges that there are no hard and fast rules for effective sales. Realizing that salespeople can use a variety of selling styles and succeed will help them adapt their approach to suit individuals rather than using a one-size-fits-all model.
There could be some seasoned salespeople on a team as well as ambitious novices who are just getting started. Effective sales managers will adapt their style to motivate everyone under their charge regardless of background and experience.
Accountability is among the most important yet most challenging qualities of a sales leader. Great leaders are the voice of the team and take accountability for every facet of their team’s performance.
For instance, reps often approach a sales manager when they have issues with other departments in an organization. While it may be less tasking to have them forge direct relationships to reduce reliance, it might not always be practical.
Being ready to speak for your team will earn you their respect and trust as you are always ready to champion their cause, even at personal inconvenience.
6. Target and Control Orientation
High-performing sales leaders work with targets in mind and seek to control daily activities to ensure they reach and exceed their quotas. They are success-driven and set priorities to rule out failure.
Oftentimes, they operate with a sense of urgency and seek to eliminate distractions that could keep them from attaining their objective.
Similarly, they closely monitor the sales process and automate it using CRM tools so as to enforce the required measures to meet targets. A leader who continuously bolsters technological tools using detailed sales management processes is more likely to experience growth than one who remains in their comfort zone.
7. Talent Magnets
The quality of talent in a sales team determines their chances of success or failure. Effective sales managers take this to heart and seek to hire quality talent. More often than not, they speak highly of their teams, unlike underperforming managers who tend to blame their teams.
Their motivation for attracting top talent has to do with the fact that they are growth-directed. As such, they use every means at their disposal to hunt for, vet and secure talented sales reps.
Hanging on to ineffective team members longer than necessary is a sure recipe for failure. This means that top-notch sales leaders do not shy off from letting go of underperforming reps.
8. Emotional Intelligence
Of all the qualities of a sales leader, this is one of the most critical. Everyone in sales has to deal with potentially charged situations, overcoming objections and handling disputes. Emotional intelligence comes in pretty handy in both situations.
It is how a leader knows when to support, encourage, console, motivate or reign in on the team or individual reps to optimize performance.
9. Ability to Inspire and Motivate
Part of a sales leader’s job involves ensuring that every team member operates at optimal levels. It is a natural human tendency to operate in one’s comfort zone. But if a sales leader can challenge, inspire and motivate the team, they will raise the bar.
Such a leader will then be able to create a virtuous cycle of progression and improvement, no matter their abilities. Being motivating also means a leader will guide team members towards the right path and inspire them to take it.
In order to do this, they need to take time to enforce the value of hard work and offer feedback in brutal honesty to individual reps. At the same time, they need to recognize top performers and reward them.
Bringing people together and getting them to collaborate and cooperate is one of the most daunting tasks of a sales leader. The ability to bring down silos within an organization and to build bridges between warring factions is among the most useful qualities of a sales leader.
10. A Uniting Force
In most organizations, the sales and marketing departments do not see eye to eye. And from time to time, there might be tensions between individual reps.
Alignment is crucial both within and beyond the sales team as it helps to get things moving. A sales leader who can foster a collaborative spirit is an asset to any organization. It might take some innovation to build bridges but it is well worth the effort.
11. Listening Skills
Being a manager involves building and maintaining relationships with individuals on your team. Part of this entails giving reps the opportunity to talk about their frustrations and challenges. Active listening as team members vent builds trust and makes the leader more human and approachable, as opposed to simply being the boss.
It also gives a leader the chance to know reps better and to find out what hurdles are blocking their way to success. Remember to keep a positive outlook and an open mind during such sessions and think of ways to help.
Future-Proofing Your Sales Leadership Career
The sales department differs from all others in an organization. Great managers have these unique qualities of a sales leader to keep reps on track and implement winning strategies. Though every sales leader has their own unique set of attributes and leadership style, adhering to these characteristics works to enhance their potential for success.
Leaders who embody these qualities are more inclined to be effective in the current business landscape and remain relevant as it keeps evolving. Developing and integrating them into your leadership style can make a world of difference in both the performance of a team and the overall satisfaction of its members.
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