8 Traits of a Great Sales Leader

What makes a great sales leader?

I have interviewed lots of sales leaders across the IT channel, and once in a while I meet someone who really stands out!

You can tell, in an instant, that they simply think, act, and lead differently than most and, in turn, are in huge demand from companies.

Lots of traits come out while interviewing, but these 8 are a common theme with those who are truly successful.

They instill confidence.

The key characteristic great managers must learn is to help people change their self-images by using their individual needs to be comfortable. Salespeople lack confidence because they are afraid and don’t know what is going to happen to them. A manager’s job is not only to instill confidence but also to improve the way salespeople look at themselves. You see, self-image is a mirror reflection of who you think you are; it may not be who you really are. The goal is to develop the team, to get them to grow far beyond their wildest dreams and it starts with how they see themselves

They Coach & Develop The Team

A huge part of a sales manager’s time should be spent coaching, either in groups or individually, and any sales manager who says their workload doesn’t allow that kind of time, needs to examine how their day is being spent and ditch or delegate any activity that doesn’t affect making their team better.

Selling has become a team game, and great managers realise that they need to drive team success. The very first thing I find in a great manager is a total commitment to building a team that functions in unison to reach their goals. Any team is made up of individuals that have different beliefs, values, and ideals, but they all have to function in a collaborative environment for the benefit of the company and each other.

Constant Improvement & Honest Feedback

Every sales professional wants to improve: to be more skilled, more polished, and more successful. That’s why we all need constructive feedback.

Because they care about their employees, not just as workers but as people, outstanding managers instinctively go to the person struggling and look to help. Even if it’s uncomfortable to give honest feedback on how to improve, it will give the individual the best possible chance of being successful.

They Listen & Communicate

You can’t be a good manager or motivator if you’re not a good communicator, and you can’t continuously learn, lead from the front, or demonstrate loyalty without being a good listener. Business is filled with what: what to execute, what to implement, what to say, and sometimes even what to feel.

What’s often missing is the why. Average managers stipulate, outstanding managers explain. And then they listen – because the most effective communication involves way more listening than talking.

They Praise & Encourage

No one gets enough praise, especially in IT sales, so truly outstanding managers see expressing thanks, giving praise, and providing recognition as one gift that can never be given often enough.

Praise is natural to a truly outstanding manager: automatic, frequent, and most of all, genuine and sincere.

They Take Responsibility

We all make bad decisions. What matters is what we do after we make those mistakes. Great sales managers are the first to say, “I was wrong, and we need to change direction.”

Outstanding leaders admit their mistakes because they desperately want to build a culture where mistakes are simply challenges to overcome, not opportunities to point fingers and assign blame.

They Challenge

Most leaders implement their ideas by enforcing processes and procedures that support those ideas. For employees, engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. I care a lot more when it’s mine: my idea, my process, and my responsibility. I care the most when I feel I am depended on and given the authority to make important decisions and do what’s right.

Outstanding sales managers create broad standards and guidelines and then challenge their employees by giving them the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. They allow employees to turn “yours” into “ours,” transforming work into an outward expression of each person’s unique skills, talents, and experiences. That’s a challenge every employee wants to face and one that outstanding leaders instinctively provide.

Recruiting, Training & Retaining

They are great at recruiting, training, and retaining top people. That is a great sales manager’s main specialty! If you can duplicate yourself and the concepts you used as an IT sales professional, that’s how can keep your top performers

So what traits do you look for in a sales leader?… I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in working with them.  Marc@robertson-sumner.com

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