I believe that a career in sales can be one of the most rewarding professions and I am often asked what it takes to be a great leader in the sales function. With this in mind, I decided to write about what I think it takes to succeed and have a hardworking, high performing sales force.
In my experience, there are four key cornerstones that any great sales manager will adhere to:
- Great sales managers enjoy and revel in the success of others more than any success of their own. I often refer to this as the selfless versus the selfish. Great sales people are often selfish; great sales managers are always selfless.
- Great sales managers love what they do, and you can tell. Ever worked for a great sales manager who lacked passion and enthusiasm? I don’t think so!
- Leading by example and doing the right thing is not an option, it is a prerequisite of success for any great sales manager – ask Steve Smith, former Australian cricket captain. Sales managers are often placed in compromising situations; great sales managers have no difficulty in taking the right path.
- Sales people don’t quit companies, they quit poor managers. Great sales managers have incredible success at retaining their best sales people.
As well as these cornerstones, I believe that to be a great sales manager you need to have the following characteristics, so you can lead from the front:
Below are the ten characteristics that I look for in great sales managers:
- They are a little bit scary
- People respect great sales managers so much, they don’t want to let them down
- They fearlessly confront issues and have difficult conversations
- They don’t rant and rave, they express genuine disappointment – they have an edge!
- They are passionate and proud
- They take pride in everything they do
- They set the standards and expect others to follow
- They are always positive
- This does not mean they are laughing all the time; they are always upbeat
- In difficult situations they will look for solutions and not ponder on the problem
- When they feel a little downbeat, they find the time and space to reflect before they respond or burden others with negative feelings
- They know their numbers
- They know their numbers better than anyone else
- Even more importantly, they know what the numbers mean and what action to take to improve them
- They are great at spotting the early signs of success or failure
- They are a technology leader
- This is more important today than at any point in the past. They understand the importance of technology and embrace it wherever possible to make the sales process more efficient
- They make sure they understand new technology before asking others to use it
- They are technology leaders, not followers
- They make others successful
- They strive day in and day out to make others successful – it is their mission
- When members of their team are underperforming, they will do everything they can (and often more) to help boost their performance
- They are not precious about their own success and they understand that this will eventually come from the success of others
- Importantly, they are always on the lookout for new talent – recruitment is proactive, not reactive
- They monitor, discuss and manage performance
- They make absolutely sure that everyone in their team knows exactly what is expected of them
- They meet regularly with their team members to discuss performance in an open and transparent way
- They look for opportunities to say thank you and well done
- They are never afraid to discuss and manage underperformance and this is always delivered in a fair and firm way
- They observe carefully
- They make time to frequently observe people doing their job – this is not a chore. It’s a great opportunity to help improve performance
- When they see good things, they note exactly what they have seen and say well done as soon as possible
- When they see less good things, they note exactly what they have seen and address any issues arising as soon as possible
- They have great temperament
- They are consistent in all their dealings – there is no roller coaster of emotions here
- They are naturally kind and giving but this is never to be confused with weakness or complacency
- You always know where you stand with them
- They have fun
- They are great at celebrating success
- They can make you laugh even when you least expect it
- They understand that a happy working environment is almost always a successful environment
I can help you with your sales development. Contact me for a free consultation.