What is true leadership? Thousand of books have been written on the topic. Probably tens of thousands of speeches made. The topic of leadership is ubiquitous and is always a lively and passionate topic for discussion. To that end, what make a great sales leader? I do not claim to have the definitive answer, but I have devoted part of my professional career to trying to learn and understand what makes a sales leader effective. I am not sure there is one answer, but I want share some of my thinking with you now.
The ability to listen effectively is an acquired skill. It takes time to get it right and when you do, I believe a salespersons a career can and will really take off. Why do I suggest this to the sales community? Simple-its true.
Thought leaders earn respect. Sales professionals who distinguish themselves as being a thought leader are more likely to earn respect AND get the deal closed. I believe this passionately and completely. Sales professionals as thought leaders? Is that an oxymoron? No! You heard it here first!
Selling is an Art. It is a complex, challenging, and for many, a very rewarding profession. Like an artist, becoming an accomplished sales professional takes time and experience. It is no different from any other profession. Yes, I am essentially saying that we are artists in our own right. Art takes many forms. I find artistic the ability and confidences to make that cold call and do it well. It takes skill and experience to make a complex sale happen. It is an amazing talent to understand how to weave together all of the parts and moving pieces of a sale. It is art to understand the challenging nature of understanding all of the people involved in a sale who are required to be in agreement or “on the same page” to make deals happen. A professional salesperson is practicing an art that is part skill, talent and a bit of luck as well. Your canvass in your sales opportunity. Your paint is the solution.
Leadership and communication are intertwined and dependent upon each other. Good leaders communicate well and good communication skills are essential to be a good leader. The purpose of this week’s column is not to define what a leader is (we will do that in my blog) but rather to communicate my belief that as a sales professionals and sales leader we must communicate obsessively. This means that we must communicate obsessively with our clients, our partners, peers, management and anyone who is part of our virtual team!
Many of you who know me personally know that I am an aviation junkie. I love airplanes and follow aviation trends and new announcements in the industry pretty closely. Yesterday was a big day for people like me. Boeing unveiled their newest airliner, the 787. I have watched the development of this new plane for years and as I watched the launch web cast, I started to think and reflect about how companies transform themselves. I then started to think about how salespeople can transform themselves.
So, you’ve gotten totally clear on your career goals, prepared your complete “executive portfolio” of self-marketing documents, and developed a detailed strategy for your search.
Reward and Recognition. The big “R&R” of sales. As a sales manager and individual contributor for many years, I am very motivated by the prospect of being rewarded and recognized. I love getting my sales commissions; we all do. It’s the best possible barometer of our success. As important to me as commissions are, being recognized in front of my peers and my managers has had an equally intoxicating effect as the dollars in motivating me. Recognition for a sale or some other more objective contribution, like doing a good job training or motivating, is very powerful and motivating. It is like filling up the gas tank!
Virtual teams are one powerful way that successful sales professionals are bridging the gap from being tactical sales pros to more consultative sales pros, and closing bigger deals in the process!
Some years ago, I was asked to write a short paper and give a talk about my observations and ideas on what might be keeping salespeople from closing more business when they have all the tools to do the job. At the time I thought long and hard about it and came up with a few basic things. Hopefully you find this helpful in some small way.