May 7, 2021
By Lori Richardson
In order to be a real sales team leader – not just a manager or director – you must be willing to look inward.
Self-awareness is understanding everything about everything that makes you, well, you. It is the ability to evaluate what you’ve said or done and have some “less biased” feedback for yourself.
We are full of biases and opinions that shape our viewpoints about those people and situations around us. Our sales reps need 100% of us, so understanding yourself can be a huge strategy for improvement.
Do you know what your sales management strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to working with others, leading a team, managing obstacles in your team’s way, and serving as a “shield” for your reps from executive fire drills?
This column is part of Channel Futures’ partnership with channelWise and wiseHer, the global expert marketplace that helps business owners and professionals accelerate their careers and businesses.
Were you a top sales rep who was promoted? Perhaps you came in as a sales manager. Even so, you probably were a rep in the past. If the main reason you were promoted was because you closed some big deals, or felt you needed progression in your career, you should know that there are few common skills between “top sales rep” and “top sales leader.”
The top B2B sales leaders have these 21 core sales management competencies (from OMG) under four categories:
The Will to Manage Sales:
Strong desire for sales management success
Strong commitment for sales management success
Sales Management DNA:
No need for approval
Supportive buy cycle
Comfortable talking about money
Systems & Strategies:
Milestone-centric sales process
Embracing sales technology
Do you know your core sales management strengths, or do you think you know them? Do you know your weaknesses or do you think you know them? I’m not talking about personality assessment results or a psychological profile. Would you believe that top sales leaders and poor performing sales leaders have similar personalities?
If at this point you feel like you really don’t know what you excel in and where you come up short in helping your sales team, the fact that you are reading this and thinking about it are great first steps.
Defining a problem or realizing a gap is half the battle. The other great thing is that there are different ways to get answers. The best way I have found in 30 years of selling and sales leadership is by getting outside help where you can get actual data and look at that data, not opinions.
Case in point: A very successful technology company told me they thought they had a leadership issue. They felt the reps were strong but there was a big problem with their front-line managers. I worked with them and we evaluated their reps, managers, pipeline and processes.
Would you believe the data showed that they actually had strong managers, and the issue was that they were not hiring strong sales reps? I presented this data to their COO, VP of sales, and head of sales enablement. All seemed stunned initially, but the data backed it up. Eventually they saw how it made sense and they were able to hire stronger sellers and coach the managers on ways the reps would be even more successful.
Sales and sales manager hires can be tricky compared to other roles in an organization.
Put some benchmarks in place and review those benchmarks annually to see how the reps on your team are growing, and how sales managers are getting better and better — or if they are stagnant, you’ll learn that as well.
Want to Grow Revenue? Lead with Core Values
Pete Gracey, SVP, global sales and GM at Aurea Software, has been building sales teams for 20 years. Pete shares how you can shape your team through common values:
The best sales managers have an unwavering commitment to their core values. Core values are the foundation for what ends up being the personality of your sales team. They help you hire, fire, promote and retain talent. Without them, your team lacks a common identity. Without a common identity, you will close fewer deals.
Look inward. Learn every day. Uncover your sales leadership strengths and build on them, and mind the gap to be able to give your reps what they deserve — an always improving manager.
Lori Richardson is CEO of Score More Sales, a sales strategy firm for leaders of midmarket companies who want to fix sales team issues. She launched Women Sales Pros in 2013, an organization working to get more women into B2B sales and leadership roles. Lori had a 15-year career in tech sales and sales leadership roles with companies like Apple and Thomson Reuters. Learn more about her on her wiseHer profile page and connect with her on LinkedIn.
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