Sales success is measured by revenue and closed deals but what does it take to get there? What kinds of people are needed to do the heavy lifting of prospecting, advocating, and facilitating the buyer’s journey? Great sales leaders are able to motivate their teams while producing measurable results that help grow the business and the following five traits are essential to their success:
1. Be Visible This is about being a visible and “present” leader to your team internally and positioning yourself externally as knowledgeable about the customer’s challenges and the solutions to address them. Internally, a great sales leader is an advocate for her team, applies rigorous process to selling, and coaches where needed. Externally, having an online presence on a professional social network like LinkedIn provides the platform to showcase expertise and connect with customers, prospect, and partners.
2. Know the Math Every deal will not close, every meeting does not lead to a next step, and time kills deals so looking at the sales pipeline as a series of conversion percentages and close rates is critical. Great sales leaders know that the number of days an opportunity has been in the pipeline can signal friction in the process or a flawed approach to getting a decision. Large deals that represent a disproportionate share of the overall sales pipeline value should be continually reviewed for their validity and steps needed to close. Large “whale” deals that linger in a pipeline for too long often indicate wishful thinking vs. actionable opportunity.
3. Focus on Meeting “End States” Don’t schedule or take a meeting without knowing exactly where you want to be at the end of it. It could be applying a set of qualification criteria, getting answers to discovery questions, identifying who makes the decision or just identifying the questions to answer to get a commitment to do business together. As a sales leader, you may not need to be in every meeting as your sales development representatives qualify opportunities or a pilot status meeting is conducted. But you should be there to support each meeting be that through a known process with defined stages and end-states or as a participant to help push things forward. Great sales leaders know that proper meeting preparation and follow up can make or break a deal so instilling a discipline in the team to do a quick web search before an outreach email on a person or their company to add context to the communication separates good from great sales leaders. Reviewing draft correspondence or helping to craft meaningful and actionable follow up emails is all part of what great sales leaders do.
4. Share the Wealth Great sales leaders know they must be generous with their time, knowledge and wisdom. Sharing lessons learned from both winning and losing deals across the sales team improves overall performance as these insights are applied to target accounts and current opportunities. Great sales leaders also look outside their function to help inform marketing efforts, improve customer service, and prioritize engineering projects – all driven by what they see and hear across their sales team as they interact with prospects and customers.
5. Be a Leader Having a leadership role or title does not always mean a person is a leader. Great leaders continually work to improve themselves and their teams. Great sales leaders lead by example, focus on setting their teams up for success, and demonstrate a positive attitude no matter the situation or sales plan. They view developing their people as a priority and work to empower the members of their team to bring out their best efforts and creativity.