What Sales Leadership is, why it matters, and how good Sales Leadership can help boost your revenue.
Effective Sales Leaders are essential to the success of any sales team. It’s their job to build a strong sales team while increasing their performance – and your revenue.
In previous articles, I’ve covered topics like sales hiring, management styles, and what characteristics to look for a successful sales leader. Today, I’d like to focus on what the best Sales Leaders are doing today to get outstanding results and set their teams up for future success.
So what does good sales leadership look like in 2023?
Read on to discover the answer…I’m about to reveal some of the most important things you’ll ever learn about how to lead a sales team, no matter what year it is.
What is a sales team leader?
The simplest definition is this: a sales team leader is the person who is responsible for managing a team of salespeople.
Their job is to ensure all members of the team are working towards a common goal – getting qualified prospects to say “yes!” and buy from their employer. It is not their job to be actively selling. Rather, they act in a managerial capacity to ensure the sales team is properly trained, managed, and supported.
An important part of any successful sales leader’s job is to get involved in the day-to-day activities of each of their sales team members. Are they meeting their metrics? Are sales improving? Is their sales process working, or does it need to be updated?
Ultimately, the best Sales Leaders have two main goals: support the sales team and increase revenue for their employer.
What does a sales team leader do?
As the head of the sales department, a sales leader’s primary role is to discover what motivates their team. Then, use that information to build meaningful relationships with their team as they work together to increase sales and revenue.
They will also act as the liaison between the sales team and divisions outside the sales department, such as Operations, Human Resources, Upper Management, and the Marketing Department.
An effective sales leader understands the role of each division within the company and works to ensure their sales team has all the resources they need to effectively perform their jobs.
However, their primary responsibility is to manage and support the sales team. Let’s dive into those responsibilities a bit further…
Sales Leader Responsibilities
The sales team leader is the central figure who keeps the rest of the team focused on making the company successful. They must have a sales plan and are constantly looking for ways to improve it.
Sales team leaders should develop a strategy that:
- Identifies specific sales goals and measurable targets.
- Is dedicated to improving the sales team’s development.
- Establishes weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual development goals for the sales team and reviews them as needed.
- Is transparent about what the business can offer both the sales team and clients.
- Provides coaching, training, mentoring, and accountability to the sales team.
- Effectively utilizes motivational techniques to inspire individual sales team members based on what they find helpful, regardless of the Sales Leader’s leadership style.
- Is flexible! They should be willing to think – and work – “outside the box” for maximum effectiveness.
One of the biggest responsibilities any Sales Leader has is planning for both long and short-term success. The best Sales Team Leaders are great at forecasting sales and can predict which deals will close, and when! This enables the Operations Department to meet demand, the pipeline stays flowing, and your business can deliver on what it promises.
Sales Leadership: Coaching vs. Training
Some might say that coaching is training. I disagree.
Coaching is working directly with someone who is struggling or wants to improve. As a sales leader, you’d “coach” your team on how to succeed in a given situation. Coaching is about taking your salespeople through the self-discovery process of how to reach their goals and overcome their struggles.
The term “training” implies you’re teaching people how to perform a task or learn a certain skill. Training suggests a person doesn’t already know what is being demonstrated. They must learn the new task or skill through practice.
Training is about learning how to do something new and should only be done a few times. Coaching is about discovering how to be the best version of yourself and is an ongoing developmental process.
While both are part of what a successful sales leader does, they are two very different things, and it’s important you don’t confuse the two or treat them as interchangeable.
If you do, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of constantly “training” your sales team…
As an effective Sales Team Leader, you should have a process in place to transition your new sales team hires towards independence as quickly as possible. You don’t want your “training” to turn into a crutch they depend on long term.
It will prevent them from excelling as an independent salesperson, and it hampers your ability to perform the other responsibilities you have as a Sales Leader.
Sales Leadership and Motivation
The most successful sales leaders are experts at knowing what motivates their sales team. They discover what gets each member of their team out of bed in the morning…and it isn’t always money!
That’s why it’s vital to determine what motivates each individual member of a sales team, then create a motivational strategy that is custom-tailored to work for them.
For some, that may mean words of encouragement. For others, it may mean bonuses or a larger base salary. Yet there may be those who get motivation from winning an award or getting named “Salesperson of the Month.”
Whatever it is, it’s up to the sales team leader to discover what will work best for each individual, then make it happen.
Sales Leadership and Accountability
The best sales leaders ensure their sales team is performing at a high level and hold them accountable for delivering results. If you spend 85% of your time training and coaching (like I recommend you do), you’ll have minimal worries when it comes to holding your team accountable: the individual members will be succeeding on their own terms.
But accountability is part of the job, and it’s both the first and last thing you should be doing with your team!
If you set them up to succeed when they’re first hired, you’ll find you have much less micromanaging to do on the backend. Having the right processes in place goes a long way toward establishing expectations and habits that will help your sales team succeed with less intervention.
How to be a good Sales Team Leader
As a sales team leader, your key task is to help the sales team succeed and grow the business’ revenue. So, how can you ensure they’re doing this?
These are the eight most common responsibilities I see successful sales team leaders undertaking for their sales teams:
- Set clear goals and objectives.
- Be upfront about what’s expected of the team.
- Set goals and review frequently.
- Give your team the tools they need to do their jobs (including proper coaching and training).
- Help them understand the expectations at every point of the sales process.
- Properly motivate them.
- Be flexible in what you need to do to achieve your team’s goals. Take the individual into consideration. If they aren’t causing a negative cultural shift within your business, and they aren’t sabotaging your success, can you make certain allowances to help top-tier sales talent thrive?
Your Sales Leaders play a large role in your business’ success. It’s their job to ensure everyone on your sales team feels appreciated, valued, and understood while at the same time working within your organization to ensure the prospect pipeline stays full and moving…and that your clients are satisfied.
It’s a tall order!
To be successful as a sales team leader, they must build relationships with their team members. That’s why clear, effective, and repeatable sales hiring and training processes are so important. To build a solid sales team, you must invest time in setting the appropriate expectations, encouraging excellent performance, and rewarding extraordinary effort.
When your Sales Team Leaders do this, your sales team members will feel confident developing their skills, sharing their ideas, and working towards the goal you have mutually agreed on…increasing your revenue.
Here at Improve Growth, we’re here to help you hire, train and develop only the best sales leaders. Contact us here for your free 30-minute consultation that will reveal how we can help your sales leadership team develop the skills they need to succeed for your business in 2023 and beyond.