10 Traits of a Great Sales Leader
What’s the difference between a boss and a leader?
There’s a definite line that separates those who are leaders from those who simply happen to be in leadership or management positions. A boss issues commands and demands obedience, while a leader provides resources and manages their team in a way that helps everyone to meet their goals and flourish.
Each type of industry requires different skills from its leaders. Here are some of the top traits that should be apparent in the actions of a sales leader.
#1 - Great Sales Leaders Love Data
Sales leaders look for ways to continually improve their processes, and digging into data is one of the best ways to find opportunities for improvement. Leaders in these roles analyze information to find ways to tweak processes, offer coaching, and connect with prospects.
And, they find ways to use data to connect with prospects as well. Sixty-nine percent of buyers want to see relevant primary research data as part of their decision-making processes; the best sales leaders find ways to incorporate this information into the content they provide and the conversations they have with their prospects.
#2 - Great Sales Leaders Provide Feedback and Guidance
Great sales leaders don’t expect their employees and team members to read their minds regarding expectations for success. Instead, they take time to implement training resources and programs that help their team members succeed.
The best leaders and organizations see benefits from the training they provide as well; according to research, high-performing sales groups are twice as likely to provide ongoing training as those with lower success rates.
Organizations and leaders that value feedback, guidance, and training will also put additional team members in place to make coaching a priority. They’ll ensure trainers are available to take the insights they’ve found, relay them back to team members, coach them, and improve their opportunities for success.
#3 - Great Sales Leaders Think Strategically
Sales leaders who think strategically garner more success because they’re using their resources in the most efficient way. For example, outstanding sales leaders martial together their resources and make sure they’re purposefully managing every part of the client relationship.
Rather than taking an ad hoc strategy and focusing only on avenues like cold calling or cold emails (which alone generate dismal response rates), a strategic sales leader will encourage an account-based strategy.
In this scenario, sales leaders will encourage their team members to work together. They’ll arm themselves with useful data, focusing on quality over quantity in their efforts.
#4 - Great Sales Leaders Listen
Buyers care more about listening than anything else in the sales process; 69% of buyers listed “listening to their needs” as the top way salespeople can create a positive experience for them during the buying process.
Great sales leaders listen to feedback. And, what’s more, they figure out ways to implement the feedback into their processes, whether it’s on the client side or the employee side.
#5 - Great Sales Leaders Patiently Nurture
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and sales success isn’t created that quickly either. The best sales leaders understand that most sales aren’t instantaneous but are instead the product of careful, diligent relationship building.
They recognize and promote the value of nurturing sales prospects, because nurtured prospects spend more and cost less to maintain. And, nurturing with targeted content leads to a 20% increase in overall sales opportunities.
#6 - Great Sales Leaders Are Problem Solvers
What causes a prospect to begin their buyers journey? It’s not just happenstance that they show interest in a product and choose to sign a contract with you.
Instead, most buyers (70% to be precise) begin the shopping process because they are seeking to solve a problem. The best sales leaders take a look at pain points and trends (again, because they love data), find ways to highlight the problem-solving benefits of their product, and personalize the sales experience to the prospect’s needs.
#7 - Great Sales Leaders Value Relationships
The best sales leaders know that relationships matter, whether they’re building them with clients, prospects, or employees. One of the biggest ways relationships can make a difference for sales professionals is through referrals.
According to research, sales team members who request and seek out referrals typically earn 4 to 5 times the sales of those who don’t. Considering the fact that 83% of customers say they’d be pleased to provide a referral after a positive experience, the opportunities are there for diligent sales leaders who choose to take advantage of them.
#8 - Great Sales Leaders Are Not Afraid to Try New Things
Sales leaders are successful when they take on leadership in other areas, too.
For example, sales leaders who take the lead in building online relationships have been shown to generate better results. These leaders leverage the benefits of new ways to create relationships, particularly through social media.
Sales leaders with more than 5,000 connections on LinkedIn are likely to meet their sales goals for the month (98% of them in 1 study did). By creating these connections, they’re not just sending a friend/connecting request, then forgetting about them. They’re constantly using the platform to nurture the relationships, provide useful content, and position themselves as leaders in their field/industry.
#9 - Great Sales Leaders Understand the Impact of Technology
The best sales leaders put their money where their mouth is and invest in technology to continue building sales success. A few examples of technology options that sales leaders have used to move the needle forward on success include:
- Sales chat, which helps them connect with prospects on their terms (44% of consumers list it as an important means of connecting with a business), gauge their interest, and begin addressing their needs.
- Marketing automation platforms, which, when used properly, can lead to a 451% increase in qualified leads.
- Video conferencing, which is more affordable than a traditional face-to-face meeting and can help seal the deal up to 20% faster.
#10 - Great Sales Leaders Have Thick Skin
The best salespeople realize that it takes persistence and initiative to pursue sales success. They know that prospects won’t always say yes the first time they encounter a product, and they don’t let rejection, or the fear of rejection, get under their skin.
Ninety-two percent of salespeople give up after four “no’s,” but 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they say “yes. The remaining 8% who are willing to stick it out and be persistent reap the benefits of building a long-lasting relationship and closing the deal.
Great Is Hard to Come by for a Reason
The best sales leaders bring a lot to the table, and it can be challenging to find a professional salesperson who embodies all this and more. That’s one reason that working with an outsourced sales team can be a particularly effective way to grow your sales success.
An outsourced sales team gives you access to a group of knowledgeable sales leaders, each with a distinct focus, whether it’s developing business, training team members, writing effective content, or managing relationships.
By working with a team, you get the benefit of each of these sales leaders filling a role on your team without the overhead. It’s the best of both worlds, giving you seasoned sales leaders who can generate great ideas and work toward positive results.
What traits do you think are most important in a sales leader? Feel free to share in the comments below:
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