Play #043 The Top 5 Traits of Great Sales Leaders
Great Sales Leaders Are NOT Managers
Each week, I bring you battle tests, sales plays, and learning lessons from my experience as a Founder, VP of Sales, and my current role as the VP of Sales at Leadium where we help world-class B2B sales teams drive revenue through our done-for your top-of-funnel services.
When I started my career in sales, I was largely driven by targets and numbers. I believed that sales were a straightforward function of effort and persistence.
However, as I transitioned into a leadership role, I understood that effective sales leadership is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires much more than being good at selling.
Over the years, I have identified five essential qualities that have shaped me as a sales leader and significantly contributed to my team's success. I want to share them with all the new, experienced, or aspiring sales leaders.
I was part of a talented but uncoordinated team early in my career. Deals were slipping through our fingers, not because we weren't capable, but because we weren't communicating effectively. When I became a sales leader, I made it a point to foster open and transparent communication within my team. This approach transformed our dynamics. Goals were articulated, roles were defined, and performance feedback became a constructive ritual. The upshot was a cohesive and motivated team capable of more efficiently overcoming challenges.
One of my most eye-opening experiences was losing a significant client due to a misunderstanding that could have been easily avoided. The incident taught me the irreplaceable value of emotional intelligence in sales. As a leader, being able to read emotional cues, manage interpersonal dynamics, and build genuine relationships has been a game-changer. Not only has it allowed me to serve our clients better, but it has also helped me understand my team members' individual needs and motivations. I've seen that a team that feels understood and valued will go the extra mile without being asked to.
As someone who has always been inclined toward analytics, setting measurable goals and tracking them has come naturally to me. However, what shifted when I took on a leadership role was the collective responsibility for these results. I was no longer accountable for my targets but also my team's. My results-driven approach became a cornerstone of the team's culture. We started analyzing metrics not just to keep score but to identify areas for improvement and celebrate our wins continuously, however small they might be.
In an ever-changing market landscape, adaptability has been a survival skill. I've led teams through market downturns, shifts in consumer behavior, and unexpected competition. What has kept us afloat is not just my ability to adapt but fostering adaptability within the team. We regularly brainstorm potential future scenarios and create contingency plans. This proactive approach ensures that we aren't just reacting to changes but are prepared for them.
Coaching and Development Skills
Lastly, one of the most fulfilling aspects of my role has been developing my team members. I see my position not just as a manager but as a coach. Investing time in my team's professional growth has increased our productivity and built a loyal, committed workforce. When I started focusing on their growth, they reciprocated by exceeding performance expectations.
In conclusion, my journey from a sales representative to a sales leader has been transformative. I’ve learned that leadership in sales is a blend of multiple skills and traits that go beyond just the numbers. It's about building a well-rounded, efficient, emotionally intelligent, adaptable, and continuously evolving team. These five qualities have been the pillars of my effective sales leadership, and I believe they are universally applicable to anyone aspiring to excel in this challenging yet rewarding profession.
Being a great sales leader is a tough gig, and it’s not for everyone. Just because you're a great seller doesn’t mean you’ll make a great leader; I had to lean that hard. Remember these five traits, and be honest and transparent when all fails. We are all human, and no one expects us to be perfect.