Characteristics of Good Sales Leaders—A Quick List
Sales people are hard to manage and lead. Period.
Sales leaders deal with big egos, driven mindsets, and strong personalities that are just hard to coach. So, sales leadership is hard. It takes a special person to be really good at it. That’s why you will find more talent in the sales organization than just about any other functional area. If you think about it, it's very true.
Here is a list of characteristics you want to strive for. It’s a good reminder for all of us and hopefully a quick easy read.
Good sales leaders have a clear vision of where they want to take their group or organization, and they communicate this vision to their team. They are able to think strategically and are not afraid to take calculated risks to achieve their goals. Think about where you want to go with your team—what you want to achieve—what you want to look like when you are really executing well. Then tell them.
Good sales leaders are able to make difficult decisions quickly and effectively. They are not afraid to take responsibility for their actions, and they are able to make decisions based on the best interests of the organization. Then, if you make a mistake or bad decision, be able to admit it like good leaders do.
Good sales leaders are genuine and authentic in their interactions with others. They are honest and transparent in their communication, and they build trust with their team by being true to their word. Be a good person that people want to work with.
Good sales leaders are able to put themselves in their team members' shoes and understand their perspectives. They build strong relationships with their team by showing empathy and understanding. Empathy is not weakness—it’s strength.
Good sales leaders are able to adapt to changing circumstances and are able to pivot when necessary. They are able to think on their feet and are not afraid to try new approaches when the situation calls for it. Listen to your team for ideas and adjustments needed. Then make the best decision you can. Don’t be afraid to change, but don’t be afraid to stick to your guns when you really feel it in your gut. Just explain the “why” you are making adjustments to your team. Very important.
Good sales leaders inspire and motivate their team, and they are able to create a positive and productive work environment. They lead by example and set the tone for the organization. I talk more about being positive below.
Good sales leaders are able to work effectively with others, and they are able to build strong teams. They are able to bring people together to achieve a common goal, and they are able to manage conflicts effectively. Managing conflicts means listening to all sides and then making a decision. Just explain your reasoning. Everyone may not agree. But that’s okay—that’s your job as leader. Explaining the “why” in your reasoning goes a long way. This is one thing people do compliment me on—being collaborative—getting everyone’s view before making critical decisions. I may suck at some other things on this list—but this one I am proud of.
Good sales leaders are able to communicate effectively, both verbally and non-verbally. They are able to convey their message clearly and concisely, and they are able to listen actively to their team members. And, for God sakes, work and improve your presentation skills constantly. Be someone your team wants to emulate. This is just so fundamental to impacting change through communication in sales—internally or externally.
Wow! Quite a list! You’re thinking “Damn Pete, that looks easy! For an f----ing Superhero!
Are you good at all these things? Hell no!! But that confession is healthy. Good leadership means you are constantly growing and improving. You are never done getting better. The best leaders I’ve ever seen are curious and constantly learning, growing, and finding new ways to inspire their teams.
There are no shortcuts. Good leadership is essential for the success of any organization—but especially sales. Sales leaders who demonstrate these things truly inspire and motivate their teams, lead by example, and make difficult decisions quickly and effectively. They make a huge, positive impact on their teams and put them on the path to success and making their numbers.
Let me add one more… Positivity!
No one likes being around negative people. It’s just a drain. So, stay positive when working with your people. Sales is hard enough—don’t make it harder by being a “Negative Nelly.” Find the good and focus on it. Work hard to be positive if you are not naturally inclined. Stay positive if you are. Find a way and it will pay off big time.
That’s it for now. Hope you have your best year ever!