WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE THE BEST?
By Marty D. Blake, Chief Operating Officer, Optimé International Inc.
As a sales leader, one of your biggest challenges is to maneuver the different personalities on your team. Not only do you need to make sure your sales reps are doing their jobs, you need to inspire them to exceed the goals set for them. But there is always a very fine balance. Too friendly – and giving constructive feedback will be difficult. Too distant – and you will struggle to gain their respect.
As challenging as it seems, becoming a great sales leader isn’t difficult if you strengthen a few key traits.
Strong and effective sales processes are only possible with a clear vision from the leader. Your team will be more likely to succeed when your goals – and the reasons for those goals – are strong and well communicated. But you also need to turn those big ideas into achievable plans. As leadership expert Peter Drucker says, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” It’s your job to know what the right things are, so you can effectively guide your team. A clear vision comes from asking yourself “What does success look like?” and “What will it take to get there?”
2. High Expectations
If you don’t expect greatness from your team, you won’t get it. As the leader of a sales team, you need to set the bar high because your organization’s sales are your responsibility. Need some ideas for how to do that? Have your team engage in setting those lofty goals – and documenting what role they will play. Those that are engaged in the process, are far more likely to work to achieve them. And always make sure they have access to the tools that they will need to do it, such as coaching and training.
You need to push and challenge your reps if you want hard work from them, but you also need to understand each of their situations. People will make mistakes. You need to expect greatness, but to also try to be understanding when you don’t always receive it. Instead of calling out your employees when they have problems, help them find solutions to improve and avoid future mistakes. Make sure you are supporting them when they are struggling to perform and help them build a plan to get out of that slump.
I’ve talked about this a few times in my blog posts. The best sales managers I know own the responsibility for their team’s sales success openly. When a new hire messes up, it’s to be expected because they’re gaining experience and it’s a great learning opportunity. But when more experienced sales professionals screw up, you need to take responsibility. Are they making the mistake because you haven’t made your expectations clear? If so, take responsibility to provide better communications and training for your employees. Are they making the same mistake over and over again? If so, you need to take responsibility that you may have an employee that isn’t a good fit for your team. Whatever the situation – you need to immediately look for the root problem and implement solutions that will drive you forward.
You can’t be a great leader without commitment. When you create a vision for your team, you have to understand that it’s not a straight path forward. Even when you or your team are in a slump, you have to lead your team in commitment to the long-term goals for which you are striving. Showing your own high level of commitment – will help them keep theirs.
Sales management is an art. You need to motivate your team and give them a high-level vision, while also providing them with tactical sales tips and coaching to help them succeed. The complexity can make good sales leadership feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you focus on developing these five traits – you’ll be well on your way to greatness.
Check out our tools for helping you and your team succeed at www.optime.com
Good luck and good selling!