Leadership in sales is a very different skill from day-to-day management. This is because leadership is focused on the business whereas management is devoted to solving problems that arise in the business.
Not all sales managers are sales leaders, but I believe all sales managers can learn to be sales leaders. To scale the success of your team in a way that supports ongoing, aggressive growth, leadership is a non-negotiable requirement.
When people are engaged and motivated, they feel they're part of something larger than themselves—that is to say when they are happy—they are more productive.
The book, Scaling Sales Success, outlines the “rules all the road” for leaders who are ready to make the journey necessary to transform a team of disengaged or marginally engaged salespeople into a cohesive, committed team capable of generating scalable revenue growth.
Think of them as operating principles.
- Lead with Integrity. Know what you stand for—and communicate accordingly.
- Don't Get Caught Emotionally Involved. Disengage from the drama.
- Check Your Own Pipeline First. Keep an eye out for talent; avoid the most common onboarding mistakes.
- Model And Coach Excellence with Private Meetings. Use one-on-one discussions to support growth and development.
- Tap Into the Why. Find out what drives people on a personal level.
- Begin With Their Point of View. Understand and respect behavioral style and perspective.
- Be Strategically Inquisitive. Ask questions that clarify all the important issues.
- Respect Their Truth. Accept that yours is not the only point of view and that people are just as passionate about their opinion.
- Build Tomorrow’s Leaders. Set people up for success.
- Make Accountability the Norm. Create a culture of accountability.
- Create Team Ownership of Ideas and Solutions. Leverage the wisdom and creativity of the team; give others the credit.
- Don’t Wimp Out. Set priorities that push you beyond your comfort zone.
- Develop the Right Processes and the Tools That Support Them. Create and implement playbooks.
- Macro-Manage. Let people do their jobs.
- Become a Learning Team. Commit to personal and professional development.
- Be Ready for Anything. Plan, prepare, and then be flexible.
These are the building blocks of effective leadership. If you commit to making them part of who you are, then you have what it takes to be a true sales leader, not just a sales manager.