What defines great leader? What I learned over time is basically three characteristics:
- Showing the direction (vision & purpose) and set the culture
- Challenge their team to get out of their comfort zone
- Showing by example by challenging status quo
No more no less.
But what usually happens in these roles that best operational individauls are promoted to these roles where you sometimes have to believe in them more they believe in themselves.
Sales world is not exception, and there is big crisis around what sales leadership really means.
There are many bad signs of sales “leaders” a.k.a admins and these are some of them.
First, many of them are still looking at the reports, dashboards and creating a bunch of Excels just to prove their existence. From my experience, these reports can be easily automated. In seconds.
Reports won’t give you answers, you won’t find something new and they are just the result of the sales team performing or not. It should be used as a diagnostic tool, and not as a tool to blame the sales team.
Second, deal reviews. And questions like:
- What you will close this quarter?
- How much you have in the pipeline?
- How much do you work on new logos?
- Why we lost this opportunity?
Low quality questions that help nobody, and these kind of questions should be discarded from the sales world.
Third, looking on training, practicing and coaching as the cost. Sales should do activities and sell in the end? Right?
No! The goal of sales shouldn’t be counting activities, but check the outcomes of activities. For example, if you do low-quality discovery meetings, the outcomes of that will wait for you at the end of the quarter (usually deal in the mud). Instead of focusing on quantity, the focus should be on quality and integrity. Quality can come only from training, practising, applying and improving over time.
How does modern sales leadership look like?
Modern sales leaders are like football managers. They set the strategy, motivate and inspire their team, set the drills (training) and expect excellence. Football managers don’t play matches, don’t create reports, speak more with fans than their team and don’t criticize them.
Modern sales leaders set the expectations and the culture of selling and show that by example. If sales leader says that value selling is the way they were selling, will sales reps do product pitches? Of course, they won’t, because they won’t be part of the tribe anymore.
Food for thought
- How much time (in percentage) do you spend coaching people?
- How much time do you spend creating reports?
- Have I made the expectations from the whole team (including myself)
- Are my deal review oriented towards the company or customers?
- When my team is not performing, am I blaming myself or my team?