This is a guest post by Monika Götzmann, the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global sales training and customer experience company. Monika enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership development training.
Businesses invest significant sums into sales managers training, but the question of exactly what makes a great leader is quite complicated, because leadership can be assessed in different ways.
Essentially, a truly great leader needs to oversee strong business performance, build solid relationships, maintain staff morale and much more.
To help get you started, here are five of the most essential ingredients for successful leadership within the sales world.
1. Providing the Right Tools.
First and foremost, successful leaders must provide their team with the appropriate tools to do their job effectively. At a very basic level, this means providing tools that allow core sales activities and processes to take place, but it also means aligning processes with customer expectations and making activities efficient.
Leaders should have a continuous dialogue with their customers, so they can accurately gauge expectations and understand buying habits.
Where possible, leaders should then embrace technologies or strategies, which not only make sales easier for staff to achieve, but also make the entire buying process easier for customers.
2. Rewarding Good Performance.
Although staff members are motivated by different things, generally speaking, good performance requires appropriate compensation.
A successful sales leader will, therefore, pay staff members fairly, be willing to pay enough to attract the best sales professionals and offer rewards for truly excellent performance.
Of course, rewards do not need have to be financial only. An effective leader will identify strong performers within the business and provide them with opportunities for career progression, while some leaders advocate ’employee of the month’ type awards.
Ultimately, whatever the reward is, it should provide compensation for hard work.
3. Being ‘Real’ or Authentic.
When leading a sales team, it is absolutely essential to have credibility and command respect. It is for this reason that management and sales training must advocate authenticity.
This means telling the truth, following through on promises, owning up to personal mistakes, taking responsibility and doing the things you believe are right.
“In leadership, authenticity quite simply means unique or original,” says Steve Rush, an author and leadership expert writing for Forefront Magazine. “One of the easiest ways to mess up is by trying to sound or behave like somebody else. If you say and do what you genuinely believe, you are authentic.”
4. Communicating Effectively.
When you look at leaders in any field, perhaps the most important quality they all possess is the ability to communicate effectively.
Therefore, when developing leaders, a huge amount of attention must be paid to improving communication skills and highlighting exactly how a leader should talk to people.
Good communicators are able to engage listeners and articulate their points clearly. However, they are also aware that communication consists of more than what is said. Research shows that more than 50 percent of what we communicate comes from our gestures and body language, while tone also accounts for more than a third.
5. Developing and Utilising Key Metrics.
Last, but by no means least, effective sales leadership requires the development of genuinely useful metrics, which can then be utilised to steer performance and outline success.
To do this, it is important to define key predictive indicators and clearly identify exactly what constitutes success in each of the different sales roles.
Once you can define exactly what greatness is, you can work towards achieving it. Use your metrics to pick out areas where performance is lagging, and collaborate with staff to set goals based on improving these metrics. Similarly, you can identify areas of strong performance and look at ways to replicate it across other areas.
What does successful sales leadership mean to you?