How to be an Effective Sales Leader

The reality of sales is that there are effective salespeople, and ineffective salespeople. The same goes for sales leadership – there are effective leaders, and not so effective leaders. 

So how does a sales leader stand out from the crowd? What traits and habits do they have that make them a great sales leader? What do they do that makes their sales team want to work hard for the greater good? 

Apart from bringing energy and passion into their everyday workplace, here are some must-haves for any great sales leader.

COACH YOUR TEAM

Effective and consistent coaching for every member of your team should be the number one priority for all frontline sales managers. 

Through coaching, you address your team’s weaknesses and help enhance their strengths, and by doing this you drive the entire team’s productivity, job satisfaction and growth.

The best part about coaching is that it’s personally rewarding in terms of gaining intimate insight into their team. Through coaching a leader gets to understand what their team can do and where there’s room for tweaks to enhance their performance. A good leader can pinpoint warning signs for issues that may arise relating to deals that are underway.

There are different types of coaching to consider when it comes to your team. Mixing it up can assist in improving individual skills and keeping things interesting for the team:

  • Observational coaching or sales meeting coaching – this is done through “observing” your salespeople in actual sales environments – jumping on sales calls and attending client visits.

  • Strategic coaching or account-based sales coaching – a leader will look at the metrics, figures and performance data and follow up with a discussion around the data and strategy to influence sales behaviour.

  • General sales coaching – personal one-on-one coaching where you discuss what’s going well – personal, work situations and processes etc, delve into any blockers, and talk about other performance-related necessities.

  • Motivational coaching – bringing the team together to motivate them around shared goals, talk through personal motivating factors and energy. 

SPEAK UP FOR YOUR TEAM

It takes a true leader to stand up and take accountability and become the voice of their team. 

A great leadership quality to have is being a good listener, so tune into your team and be available to talk about concerns or issues they have that need to be discussed with other areas of the organisation.  

The best sales leaders will listen, say what needs to be said, and have necessary conversations regarding issues and concerns that really matter to their team – even if it’s not popular with other areas of the business. It’s human nature to want to feel supported and that someone’s “got your back”; speaking up for your team will earn you respect even if you don’t win every battle for them.

INSPIRE YOUR TEAM

Easier said than done, right? Your challenge as a sales leader is to ensure your team performs at the highest standard all the time.  

Part of this is hiring the right people and moving ineffective team members on. It’s impossible to achieve top results if you don’t have the talent to drive your team to success.

Inspiring even the best people can be challenging – even those considered “top talent” are known to operate within their comfort zone when they can. 

Challenging your team in the right way will raise the bar over time, creating a cycle of continuous improvement and a sense of progression and success. 

OFFER AN OPEN DOOR

Sales is a tough gig. You need to be thick skinned, and even if you are, the intensity of the job can take its toll. 

Giving your salespeople an open door to vent about their problems, frustrations and feedback can certainly help gain their trust and allow them to see you as a person, not just a boss.

Being available to your team also allows you to get to know them better and gives you insights into the roadblocks that obstruct their success.

If you work to remove just one roadblock that your team is struggling with, you’ll often see whole team improvement in terms of performance, productivity and results.

It’s always important to keep an open, positive mind during information gathering and feedback, so these conversations don’t become complaint sessions.

BE OPEN AND TRANSPARENT

Salespeople will naturally respond best to coaching from a leader who has their best interests at heart, with genuine concern for their success.

Openness, transparency and honesty are essential for building a strong team. When your team knows you’ve got their back, they’ll take your words of inspiration seriously, rather than simply writing them off as leadership waffle.

If you’re open and honest with your team, your salespeople are far more likely to be open and honest with you. This helps build positive team culture – and presents you as a leader who has gained the respect and trust of your team.