Are You A Sales Leader Or A Sales Loser: 4 Traits of Bad Sales Leadership And How You Can Change Them
At the center of every profitable business is a high-performing sales team. And at the center of every high-performing sales team is a competent and confident leader who enables his/her employees by providing ongoing training, great tools, and a positive work environment. Sadly, however, most companies lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from high turnovers and low sales that can be directly attributed to the ineffectiveness of their sales leaders. A bad boss in any job can make going to work seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but it is especially difficult in sales – where your Sales Manager can literally be the difference between dining on caviar or eating cat food. Finding great sales talent is as difficult as finding your husband or wife and if your sales leaders aren’t creating the right environment for your sales people to flourish then nobody will “marry your company”. Here are four traits to help you determine if the sales leaders in your company are truly leaders or losers and five ways to keep your sales team from breaking up with you.
1. Poor Communication: Sales people are natural born communicators and expect the same from their leaders. Sales Losers often manage teams with a “because I said so” philosophy. It is important to understand that your sales team is often the face of your company to the outside world. The confusion and dissatisfaction will soon expose itself to your customers and tank your company’s reputation. High Performing Sales Leaders make certain that their teams understand things like changes in policies and give their teams a forum to discuss issues.
Sales LeaderTIP: Distill information early and often to your sales team. Set up a time each month where you can talk to your team and they can talk to you about more than just what deals are closing this week.
2. Lack of Focus & Stability: As Sales Leaders we must realize that the sales people who follow our lead have a lot of “skin in the game” and are trusting us to provide them with a focus of mission that will allow them to sell and make enough commission to lead a high quality of life. True Sales Leaders lead their team in only one direction all year – and that’s forward toward pre-established goals. Sales Losers are the managers with dog like attention spans who spend each month directing their team to chase after a new car.
Sales LeaderTIP: Understand your market! Who are your customers and who are your competitors? Establish realistic monthly sales goals for your team and effectively manage their pipelines and activities. Sure there are times when the market dictates you need to change course, but be certain you truly need to do such a thing. Create your sales goals and sales campaigns well in advance and don’t deviate from them unless absolutely necessary.
3. Being a Fault Finder: If you look hard enough you can find the flaw in even the most beautiful of masterpieces. As a Sales Leader it often doesn’t take a fine toothed comb to find things you wish your sales people did better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your main job is constantly highlighting faults or creating faults where none actually exist. Sales Losers use their one on one time with sales people to point fingers and admonish sales reps. Great Sales Leaders use these interactions as teachable moments for both the leader and the sales person. Instead of saying “You did this wrong” Sales Leaders say “Help me understand why you did it this way”.
Sales LeaderTIP: The difference between a sales superstar and your next fired employee can be as simple as the confidence you’ve instilled in them. We all make mistakes but it’s in how you address them that will come to shape the nature of your relationship with your sales team. Don’t be known as the boss everyone hates to see and is afraid to speak to because you’re always finding fault in everyone’s work. Instead, become the Sales Leader who everyone loves to come to with issues and exciting problems because you don’t condemn and learn as much as you teach in each situation!
4. Lack of Development: I once asked a friend of my who spent a few seasons playing professional basketball what he thought was the difference between college and the NBA. His answer? “Making it in college basketball takes talent. Playing in the NBA takes skill“. This is true too of the sales profession. Sure you have some on your team who are naturally talented communicators or naturally confident and genuinely persuasive but without consistent training your sales people will not possess the skill needed to sell in a difficult economy. Strong Sales Leaders ensure that their sales teams are not just highly talented but also high skilled sales professionals.
Sales LeaderTIP: Training should be an ongoing expectation within your sales culture. Identify areas of weakness and set time each month for company wide training sessions. Also remember, good sales leaders make sure to train their teams but great Sales Leaders also make sure to train themselves. Seek out opportunities to tune up your own skills through sales seminars, videos, and sales management networking
As Sales Leaders it is our duty to ensure that each of our sales reps have all the best possible tools to flourish. Yet the tool we most often overlook is ourselves. If properly calibrated, a Sales Leader has the ability to facilitate sales growth through their excellent training, positive attitude and expert problem solving. If not, a Sales Loser has the ability to kill morale, stunt sales development, and keep the best talent from joining your organization.