Sales Leadership 101: 8 Practices to Become an Effective Leader
Running a business without effective sales leadership is like captaining a ship without a motor: If the force that powers your business forward isn’t there, then you’ll just float into the open ocean.
Moreover, a business doesn’t exist without sales, so how far do you think you’ll get without great sales leaders to power the business forward?
If you’re a sales leader, then stepping up to the plate isn’t just a matter of running a smooth sales department, but pushing an entire business forward!
To help you become the most successful sales leader version of yourself, I’m sharing 8 practices you can integrate into your routine to help you become a better leader.
Unless you fully step-up as a leader:
- Overall sales performance will suffer;
- You’ll see a drop in your bottom line; and
- Eventually overall business performance will suffer.
If you’re not the kind of person who would captain a ship without a motor, then you’re certainly not the kind of sales professional who would run a business without effective sales leadership!
What Are the Benefits of Sales Leadership?
Like I said above, sales is at the heart of all business. So, effective sales leadership is beneficial because it’s like having a captain for the entire business.
To break it down a little further, sales leadership is beneficial for few key reasons, including:
- Having a common vision to work towards
- Creating specific sales methodologies
- Fostering an ideal sales culture
First off, a business exists for the purpose of manifesting a vision. And, the way that you manifest a vision is by making sales.
Therefore, sales leadership aligns salespeople under the common mission of manifesting that vision by making more sales!
Second, sales leadership helps outline how sales teams can manage their sales processes. Without leadership, sales reps would be a mess not knowing what they need to do to make more sales in less time.
Lastly, effective sales leadership helps foster an ideal sales culture. More specifically, it gets all the team members motivated to improve themselves for the sake of improving the sales process. More specifically, leadership helps foster a growth mindset culture!
These three benefits all improve the sales machine as a whole. And when the sales side of business is sharp, the entire business is sharp!
How Do You Develop Sales Leadership Skills?
Rather than developing new sales leadership skills, you should focus on developing sales leadership habits.
Becoming an effective sales leader isn’t about taking a basic sales training course to expand your skill set and call yourself a sales manager! Rather, it's about developing specific leadership habits and then applying them to everyday sales scenarios.
At the end of the day, skills don’t matter all that much. However, habits are EVERYTHING.
Because habits are what really make a difference in the health of your sales department, because they’re applied on a consistent basis.
On the other hand, possessing a skill is meaningless, especially when you don’t know how to apply it.
From here on out, rather than thinking of leadership development as a matter of learning a new skill set, start focusing on developing new sales-related habits. That’s exactly what the 8 practices below are precisely about!
Here Are 8 Practices to Become a More Effective Sales Leader
The success of your entire business depends on YOU stepping up to be the best sales leader version of yourself. To help you do just that, here are 8 simple practices that you can integrate into your daily life.
These regular practices help you form strong leadership habits. And, as you already know, consistent habits are what ultimately manifest solid results!
If you’re ready to power not just your sales department but your entire business forward, then you’re at the right place.
1. Stop Demanding Perfection
To begin with, how often do you set specific sales goals and then absolutely demand that you and your sales team achieve them in the exact way that you want them achieved?
If you’re like most sales professionals, then that probably resonates with you on a deep level...
Here’s the thing though- When you demand that you accomplish your specific sales goals in the exact way you want them accomplished, what you’re really doing is closing yourself off to other, potentially better, possibilities.
By that, I mean that you could close yourself off to possibilities that are potentially better than your existing goals!
That said, instead of putting the horse blinders on, stop demanding perfection so that you stay open to all the possibilities.
From now on, continue to set sales goals, but don’t let them close you off to what might be even better opportunities. Moreover, from now on say to yourself, “These are my goals, but I’m open to something that could be better!”.
2. Have a Weekly Team Member Huddle
Every Monday morning, gather with your entire sales team for a weekly huddle.
During that huddle, focus on motivating the entire group for the week ahead by:
- Having everybody say a win that they accomplished during the previous week
- Addressing challenges or other communication-related issues
- Centering everyone’s focus on the goals that need to be checked
Most importantly, use the huddle as an opportunity to discuss any problems with team members before the week starts.
At the end of the day, 99% of business and sales problems are people problems. That said, address those people problems before they have the chance to go up in flames.
3. Create a Straightforward Sales Playbook
Do your team members regularly have to come to you for guidance on what they’re supposed to be working on? Doesn’t it only end up wasting everybody’s time?
Many sales teams function in a constant state of chaos, in which they don’t know what they need to be doing and when they need to be doing it. Ultimately, this brings productivity of the entire team down.
The simple solution is to create simple, straightforward sales playbooks. By playbooks, I’m talking about an outlined sales strategy and sales process.
With reliable playbooks, team members will have the tools and guidance they need to make the most out of each day.
4. Block Off Your Time
How often do you wake up in the morning, decide what projects you need to work on, but then only end up spending the day putting out fires instead of actually getting legitimate work done?
For example, you decide that you really need to hunker down on your sales strategy, but then spend half the day answering messages and the other half jumping between email and social media.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Too many sales leaders spend too much time (if not all of their time), putting out fires instead of actually pounding the pavement.
Unfortunately, this creates a ripple effect... Because sales leaders set an example of the status quo in their business, eventually their team members start caving into the same time traps. As a result, overall sales productivity turns to trash.
Perhaps the best way to make effective use of your time while setting a good example for team members is time blocking.
Every evening, decide what are the most important tasks you’ll need to get done the following day. Then, chunk out blocks in your schedule for the next day and designate only specific tasks to work on during those blocks.
For example, block off 9:00 am 10:00 am to focus strictly on organizing your CRM. Then, immediately block off 10:01 to 11:00 am for a call with your sales coach.
The idea is to get extremely strict with your time, so that you can focus on getting the real work done instead of just putting out fires all day.
5. Set Solid Expectations
One leadership quality that only high-performing sales leaders have is directness. Instead of beating around the bush, they say what needs to be said when it needs to be said for the sake of the entire sales team’s benefit.
Because they are direct, top-tier sales leaders set firm expectations with their team.
For example, they set expectations regarding:
- Sales goals
- Regular assessments
Like I mentioned above, most sales-related problems are people problems stemming from communication errors.
Perhaps the best way to prevent those problems altogether is by setting and sticking to firm expectations. While the straightforwardness might feel a little off-putting at first, it only ends up making the entire team better.
6. Get Regular Feedback
There’s a bit of a Catch 22 when it comes to being a sales leader: On one hand, leaders often have extensive sales experience, which gives them the wisdom to overcome many sales-related challenges. However, at the same time, having a lot of sales experience can also work against a sales leader, as it sometimes closes their mind off to new, innovative ideas.
When experience is working against a leader, it often causes them to block out the opinions of others. In many cases, there isn’t anybody there to call them out for their behavior.
That said, in order to keep your mind open and get the feedback you need, block out one hour per week to work with a sales or CEO coach.
During that hour, allow your coach to give you unfiltered feedback. While it might sting to get any criticism at first, it’s all for helping you become a better leader.
7. Delegate Delegate Delegate
Do you know what the primary role of a sales leader is?
Believe it or not, but the primary role of a sales leader is to LEAD.
Despite that fact, instead of leading their team, many leaders get caught-up in the day-to-day chaos of sales. Why? Because, they have a difficult time giving up control of certain tasks and situations.
That said, make it a habit to delegate as many tasks as necessary so that you can focus on leadership!
If you’re not focused on leading the team then who will?
Moreover, let team members focus on the day-to-day tasks; don’t be afraid to surrender your perceived power over to somebody else.
From now on, if you ever get that feeling like you’re being pulled into the weeds instead of leading, simply take a step back and start delegating!
8. Show Genuine Gratitude
Do you ever take a step back to reflect on how far you’ve come and give thanks to all the help you’ve received along the way?
If not, then you’re missing out on one of the simplest opportunities to renew your enthusiasm for sales!
The next time the selling process has you feeling down, take a moment to give gratitude to the moment, your resources, and all the people around you. Then, go out and tell people that you’re thankful for them being in the picture!
The sad truth is that we often don’t take enough time to simply thank the people around us, including our team members and customers, for their contributions. And despite how small of a gesture it is, giving thanks can actually make the biggest, most positive impact.
Everyday, take just ten minutes to make a list of the things that you’re feeling the most thankful for. If that list includes certain people, go out and genuinely give thanks to them!
Like I said, gratitude is the smallest gesture that will make the biggest, most positive impact. Just try it and you’ll see!
Final Thoughts on Practices to Become an Effective Sales Leader
No more trying to drive your ship forward without having a powerful motor behind you! It’s time to put these leadership practices to work so that you can finally become the leader who your sales team, customers, and entire business need.
Remember, a business can’t exist without a top notch sales department. So, you can avoid stepping up as a sales leader all you want, but the fact still remains: Business success depends on YOU and your leadership!
How much longer will you wait to become the best sales leader version of yourself?
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