Being a great sales leader is hard work. Keeping your salespeople motivated and inspired, while chasing the number is not for the faint of heart! It requires passion, dedication, and tons of energy. Last but not least, it requires you to see your salespeople as human beings. Beyond human connection, there are a few additional things that your sales team needs from you to be successful.
After all, being a good sales leader goes way beyond your sales team completing training and the annual sales kickoff meeting. The core responsibilities an accomplished sales leader must encompass can be summed up into a short list, which we have compiled below. Here are the 7 things your sales team undoubtedly needs from you:
1) Establish trust and credibility.
Your salespeople must believe that you want to help them, you can help them and will help them. You must earn their trust, but more importantly, you must trust them. I learned this the hard way as a sales manager. There is a difference between holding people accountable to results, and micromanaging their every move to get to that result.
2) Make them fall in love with your “why”.
You can throw money at people, but that is not going to light the fire. Your salespeople must understand and truly believe your company’s “why”. Why do customers buy from us? Why is it important? How do our customers win by doing business with us?
3) Be transparent and recognize real obstacles.
It is a common practice to protect salespeople from bad news or glaze over things that might impede their success. Yes, salespeople have a tendency to blame other factors for lack of sales. While you never want to focus on the negative or give excuses for poor performance, ignoring real obstacles will ruin your trust and credibility with your team and cost you sales.
Each year, put 3 charts up on the wall for your team and cover them as a group:
a) Things we can control
b) Things we can influence
c) Things we must accept
Focus on what you are going to do about the things under your control and influence and make a pact to stop whining about the “c” list.
4) Establish clear and achievable goals that make sense.
I once worked for a company that handed out sales goals without rhyme or reason. There is nothing more demoralizing than chasing down a number that someone pulled out of their you know where and you as an experienced sales professional know is totally unachievable. There begins the “why bother” mentality and the job search.
Use market research, data, pipeline and close ratios, combined with your experienced salespeople’s input to establish goals.
Annual goals should be tracked monthly and quarterly, and the activity needed to establish that pipeline to support that goal must be broken down to daily and weekly.
5) Provide learning and growth opportunities.
Sales is a skill, and salespeople must hone their craft. Even the most experienced salespeople need development and training, or they will stay content within their comfort zone. Find multiple ways of learning – articles, books, TedTalks, and trainings. Gather your team to practice their skills at least once a quarter. Assign sales reps to teach or reinforce skills with their peers.
6) Encourage proactivity and offer flexibility.
My “non-negotiable” traits of salespeople (who are fabulous at hunting down business) is that they be smart and proactively wired. What do you do with smart, proactive people? You give them goals, establish guidelines, offer help, then you let them go get it on their terms. You may have to offer help to keep them on track with activities required to build the pipeline, but it is not your job to micromanage their day. That is exhausting for you and them. Been there, done that, never again!
7) Offer rewards, let them choose.
Too many times… the golfing trip, or the annual let’s get drunk all day at a resort where we are stuck with the people we see all day and their spouses for 5 days…not my jam. Offer a variety of rewards, but let your people pick and choose. Understand that your salespeople are different and have different motivating needs. Ask them about their favorite things and rewards! It will go a long way.
Being a great leader isn’t always easy, and it’s no surprise, no matter how seasons you are you still won’t be perfect. Give and accept grace! Be a human. If you put your people first, show them that you care about them as human beings, and dive in to help them with passion, they will be forgiving of you when you have bad days!