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.
I searched the internet for one definition of leadership that I thought made sense and I found “his leadership inspired the team”. I really liked this because my sales career has been team oriented and I have always worked collaboratively. This made me think about the different leaders I have worked with and what inspired me the most.
Here is my list:
- Intelligence. The best leaders know their business and are committed to knowing as much as anyone so they can be relied on to be a source of information and support. I have worked for some very bright and gifted people who taught me with patience and compassion.
- Track Record of Sales Success. They have done it! In other words, they have walked in your shoes and “carried the bag”. How can anyone call themselves a sales leader and never have sold? I am fully convinced you need to experience the highs and lows of sales and feel the sting of losing a deal and the total exhilaration of seeing a contract get signed at the end of a long sales campaign! It is a rush and its needs to be lived to be a sales leader!
- Communication Skills. Every great sales leader I have ever know and worked for communicates clearly and with conviction. They are not afraid to be wrong and believe passionately that well-informed sales reps are more productive with facts! They communicate obsessively!
- Empathy. My favorite managers and leaders were very empathetic and caring people who think as much about the human side of the equation as they do the business side and making the “number”. The best sales leaders I have ever known are not afraid to show their human side. They really and truly get the connection between caring and motivation. This is often overlooked and underestimated by leaders who are indifferent and think of themselves as above the fray.
- Humility. Great sales leaders are humble and are not afraid to admit fault and take responsibility for the team. They are great listeners and know that all opinions are valued and should be respected. They donot wave their awards or degrees at you.
- Confidence. Great sales leaders are confident and poised. You are invigorated by their talks and you see clients gravitate to them. You want to be near them and soak in and absorb their words and actions.
- Teachers. The best sales leaders are intently interested coaching and motivating you to be great! They allow you to be the be best you can be and to flourish with the skills you have. They have original thoughts and share openly and graciously.
- Energy. I love a sales leader with high energy and passion. They motivate me and inspire me to do more. Enough said!
This is not an exhaustive list and there is certainly much more I could add. I have had the privilege to work with some great leaders and I have been the grateful recipient of their knowledge. I will add to these thoughts as time passes and I get input from you, the sales community. As always, let me know what you think!