Great sales leaders do these 8 things everyday
What makes a great sales leader?
Is it their personality and charisma? Is it the results they have achieved? Is it their team leadership abilities? Or is it their vision and unique sales methodology?
In truth, no one characteristic defines success, every sales leader is different.
However, there are some key sales leadership qualities that top sales leaders share, and these characteristics make all the difference when it comes to ensuring their team ascends to higher levels, and that their business achieves long-term sustainable growth and success.
So, what are the characteristics of a great sales leader? What are the key sales leader skills and qualities?
A great sales leader:
Is a mentor and a coach
Long gone are the days of the authoritative boss–employee dynamic, especially now that we are all operating in the new hybrid working era. The term “lead by example” couldn’t be more important than it is right now.
Every single person in a sales team influences its ultimate success. It is a myth in business that people simply do what you tell them to do. Now more than ever sales leaders need to be able to motivate and inspire hybrid teams to achieve a shared goal.
In reality, people do what they want to do, and a great sales leader should be capable of helping them and empowering them to make the right decisions and take the right course of action.
Each individual in a team will be handling multiple accounts, will have their own prospect pipeline, and will be juggling many individual needs, their job, therefore, requires them to drive their own priorities.
Sales coaching and mentoring is cited as the most important role that frontline managers play, according to 74% of leading companies. Companies with dynamic sales coaching programs achieve 28% higher win rates.
The best sales leaders have a coaching mind-set and understand that a vital part of their role is mentoring. They understand the DNA of their team, everyone’s personality, sales approach and goals. They know how to get the best out of them, and what tools and training they need to do their job autonomously and remotely. Equally as important they can pick up quickly when a team member is underperforming.
Salespeople are naturally failure averse and their own worst critics. Most sales cycles tend to be annual. During that time there will be a lot of ups and downs – failed deals, missed targets, missed opportunities and increased pressure.
A good hybrid sales leader needs to recognise this and know how to support each team member and provide encouragement and patience as they go through a rough patch.
Frontline technologies, like FullCircl, are playing a great facilitating role. Arming sales leaders with greater insight and understanding of how sales teams are behaving and performing, as well as modelling how performance could be improved.
Armed with this deeper level insight, sales leaders can then coach each member of the team to define or refine their goals and strategies, facilitate a change in behaviour or the development of new habits and advise on alternative ways to maximise leads or engage with customers.
They can motivate and empower self-improvement and self-direction and help them get the best out of the tools and training at their disposal. Tools like FullCircl help hybrid sales leaders ensure that wherever reps are, they remain empowered and focused on accelerating customer acquisition with clarity and speed.
Is focussed on team success, not on their own success
Sales leaders start as salespeople and on their way to the top they will have overperformed, smashed targets, and contributed in a measurable way to the success of the company, but now their role has evolved into something else.
A great hybrid sales leader knows when to stay hands off, and equally when to pitch in and get involved, without taking all the glory. There is nothing more demotivating for a sales team than a sales leader who misses selling and starts competing with their team to prove ‘they’ve still got it – a sales leader with a sales target is a bad situation.
Micro-management is the default setting of any sales leader who has inadequate performance with their people. Instead, great hybrid sales leaders harness tools for KPI management and insight into what each salesperson has been doing, their prospect pipeline, sales behaviours, and activities to equip those in their team to be potentially better than them, not to crack the whip because their own success is on the line.
A good sales leader must recognise their role is to lead, set a strategy and vision and provide guidance and support for the team to get there.
A great sales leader gets a buzz from seeing someone they’ve developed get a sale.
Hybrid sales leaders using FullCircl have an extra tool at their disposal. They can ensure each member of their team achieves their potential by providing them with the rich, contextualised company information they need to always make the right decisions about who to sell to and how. Helping them act with conviction and beat the competition (even if that also means they beat the sales leaders own record).
Is focussed on collaboration
One of the biggest hurdles affecting hybrid sales teams is effective collaboration.
The best results are achieved when everyone feels like they have contributed to the process. The team itself might be diverse in terms of the individuals involved, their approach, personality, and individual responsibilities, but each person brings to the table different areas of expertise, different experiences, and different views.
Great hybrid collaboration requires effective leadership. A great hybrid sales leader is able to pull the team together regardless of their location, draw on the skills of everyone and guide them to collaborate, share ideas and focus on the collective goals, as well as the individual ones.
Likewise, they promote cross-functional collaboration across the entire business – no small task in the hybrid environment.
A great sales leader takes a macro-level view, working out how sales can collaborate with marketing, business development, customer success, R&D, and product development teams to build an eco-system focussed on combined goals and shared vision. An environment where each team helps each to collectively do Better Business, Faster.
Technology once again can help. For a business to collaborate and have shared goals it must have a shared understanding. FullCircl’s Business Information Graph (B.I.G)™ ingests billions of data points every day from a multitude of official and third-party sources, then matches and enriches this information to unlock the most accurate and contextualised view of every business in the UK and Ireland – A single 360° view up-to-the-minute view of what you everyone within an organisation (from frontline to back office) from which hybrid collaboration can grow, synergies in skill sets can be exploited, opportunities can be the evaluated, and roadmaps are drawn up for teams and individuals to add value at every stage of the journey.
Smart use of technology can not only bring hybrid sales teams together but also facilitate cross-functional teams collaboration for the long-term success of the company.
Is a believer in encouraging curiosity and creativity
Curiosity is perhaps the most important trait any seller can have. Curious people seek to understand the world around them from every angle, they tend to be the ones that are keen to push boundaries, find new reasons to get excited, suggest new ideas, and uncover new ways to solve problems.
Curiosity, when nurtured and channelled in the right way, delivers what companies and customers ultimately aspire to from their sales teams, i.e., customer-centric engagement, strong relationships, and solutions that achieve goals and solve problems.
Likewise, the ability to jump on new ideas and opportunities for improved outcomes and competitive advantage.
Great hybrid sales leaders encouraging a curious methodology see amazing results. By giving people space and time, as well as access to the intelligence and insight tools they need to indulge their curiosity they are rewarded with an engaged team.
An engaged and curious team goes out to ask questions and seek answers, share ideas, solve problems, predict needs, identify opportunities, and uncover new ways to innovate and differentiate and drive the business forward.
FullCircl makes it easier for sales leaders and their teams to get ahead of their customers with journeys that excite, delight, and inspire loyalty. With FullCircl, reps can dig deeper and segment the market based on dozens of filters, and create watchlists and alerts based on the information they are most curious to learn more about. Whilst real-time intelligence eliminates reliance on manual research, giving reps enriched account data that can help them get more creative with solutions.
Is a visionary, a great communicator and gives people meaning to their work
Salespeople are more motivated by having an overarching vision. People and companies can be inspiring, but what really drives a great sales team is the ‘why’ behind the business.
Research has found that when employees find their work to be meaningful, their performance improves by 33%, they are 75% more committed to their organization, and are 49% less likely to leave.
More and more people want to do meaningful work. 90% of people are willing to earn less money to do work they find meaningful, and for many, the move towards meaningfulness has only accelerated because of the pandemic.
It’s the ’why’ that provides a reason for getting out of bed in the morning and gives salespeople the focus they need to achieve fantastic results. Today’s salespeople crave more than “just a job.”
A great hybrid sales leader is both a visionary big thinker and a tactician. They are also capable of communicating the big ideas and connecting this vision to the team by explaining the strategies and tactics to be employed, the behavioural/cultural changes needed etc.
A great sales leader can turn vision into reality, taking the big ideas and turning them into executable plans that inspire and drive the team forward.
It is also important to give the team the tools needed to do their job to the best of their abilities. Sales leaders need to be alive to advances in technology that helps reps get more creative and spend more time doing what they love, and what they do best.
FullCircl not only eliminates research time but stops reps from wasting a vast amount of time chasing companies who are a poor fit or aren’t yet in the market for your solution.
Hence the next point…
Is able to maximise productivity without limiting creativity
It’s an issue (and a fine balancing act) that all hybrid sales leaders face, how to maximise productivity without limiting creativity. The board, shareholders, banks, and investors all want a better bottom line, and expect sales teams to be ever more efficient and productive even when working remotely.
But to compete and meet expectations reps need to spend more time being creative, something which is difficult when they spend a significant proportion of their day undertaking administrative tasks.
Utilising advanced sales technologies like FullCircl to automate key activities such as customer information gathering, uncovering new prospects, understanding buying behaviours, sentiments and trends, and due diligence leaves reps free to undertake more strategic decision-making and human-touch relationship-building tasks with an even greater level of clarity.
According to the Raconteur Report, between 70-85% of businesses say AI is making their organisation more creative, helping them make better management decisions, and furnishing them with more time to think creatively about the challenges their customers face.
Take BT Local Business for example. BT Local Businesses were finding that their ability to uncover new opportunities was hampered by highly manual, time consuming sales processes (i.e. trawling the internet to uncover potential new opportunities and gain a deeper understanding of customers).
By adopting FullCircl Engage to harness real-time news, social media, and people insights, they uncovered new prospects, gained a deeper understanding of leads, were able to act quickly on opportunities, and engage proactively in more sophisticated ways based on a real-time understanding of trends, sentiments and needs.
BT Local Businesses have generated 4,316 new opportunities in the last 12 months alone with a pipeline value of £29.5 million directly attributable to the insights delivered by FullCircl. Board and shareholders were satisfied, productivity improved, and a team of sellers was freed from the burden of busy work and focussed on doing what they do best. Perhaps most importantly of all happier customers achieving superior results thanks to improved creativity – win, win, win.
Is a believer in the value of training and development
It has also been reported that sales training reaps a staggering 353% ROI for the average company. No wonder high-growth companies are twice as likely to provide customised training to their employees.
But it’s not just when hiring new members or implementing new ways of working (such as hybrid working) that training is vital. All too often, a seasoned salesperson will simply rely on outdated selling techniques that don’t cut it with today’s demanding buyers or accelerated digital environment.
The truth is that everyone – regardless of experience or age – needs a refresher course every now and then. Sales skills are always evolving and require constant refinement. Continuous training is said to result in 50% higher net sales per sales rep.
A great hybrid sales leader realises sales training is time and money well spent. And invests time in understanding the development needs of their team.
Take a quick look at FullCircl’s upcoming training courses and start unlocking the potential for reps to engage with the right business customers, accelerate onboarding and keep them for life.
Is able to accurately reward and incentivise
A great hybrid sales leader is able to develop a strong reward and recognition program, one that is timely and relevant. Motivating sales teams is about providing the right incentives to the right people is essential.
There is little point in incentives and rewards if they don’t instil a sense of purpose and are not related to anything – i.e. they either happen or they don’t and sellers don’t really believe or understand that they can influence the process.
A great sales leader invests in their sales teams’ development and rewards individuals based on contribution and drive, not on age or time served. Of course, if you can integrate your performance tracking tool with your compensation system you can ensure that people are accurately rewarded for their achievements and incentivised in meaningful ways to continue to raise the bar.
Of course, I could go on all day, and there’s no doubt many more leadership qualities that great hybrid sales leaders have in common. So over to you…
Do you know an inspiring sales leader? What do you think makes a great sales leader? What tools do you think sales leaders need to get the best out of themselves and their teams?
We would love to hear your thoughts…. And while you’re at it why not put us to the intelligence test?
We love a challenge. In fact, we love it so much we guarantee we can help hybrid sales leaders and their teams do Better Business, Faster. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to review our product suite, API and web applications, and to set up your structured pilot.