Knowledge & Insight

Qualities shared by the best sales leaders

Tue 28 October 2014

The role requirements for sales leadership have evolved significantly over the past 20 years. As the global marketplace has changed, and business culture with it, sales managers and senior executives have had to develop a broad range of skills.

Ability to coach and mentor staff

The ability to coach and mentor staff is an incredibly valuable skill, yet it’s actually quite rare because few sales leaders truly understand what it involves. A good coach or mentor must be able to help sales staff to clearly define their goals, to develop habits that will help deliver those goals, provide guidance and direction, and identify skills gaps so staff can develop and enhance their abilities. Provide support in these key areas and your sales force will become empowered to improve their skills, which in turn leads to high motivation as challenging goals become more achievable.

Informed risk-taking

Risk and reward always go hand in hand in every sector and every industry, so talented sales leaders must be prepared to take risks on occasion. But skilled managers should be able to assess the magnitude and scope of their exposure, to understand what steps they need to take to mitigate the risks identified, and undertake necessary “risky” actions in a controlled manner. Intelligent risk-taking is about minimising the risk and maximising potential return.

Effective delegation

No single person can take responsibility for devising and delivering the sales strategy, which means the ability to delegate effectively is an essential skill for any successful sales manager. And effective delegation is about much more than simply assigning tasks to other people. The key to good delegation is “clarity”. So when you ask someone to do something, you must be 100% clear about the nature of the task, the objectives, who is responsible for delivering it, and when it is to be completed. Remember, delegation is also about sharing responsibility, not shifting it.

Ability to set challenging but realistic targets

Set low expectations and you can virtually guarantee poor sales performance. But setting targets too high can be equally harmful, as even the most talented sales people may become de-motivated in the face of unachievable challenges. So you need to understand what is deliverable, and be able to recognise what good performance looks like. Plus you need to have a deep insight into the abilities of your people so you can utilise their strengths and provide additional support where they are weakest.

A strategic approach

Whether you’re targeting a single prospect or an entire continent, it pays to take a strategic approach. This means carefully considering all available sales channels, evaluating your individual product lines or services, exploring customer requirements and analysing  the competitive marketplace. Only by taking a balanced, strategic approach that takes account of all the variables that impact upon your success can you deliver a strategy that is sure to succeed.

Ability to recruit the best talent

Sales executive search has become a highly specialised field, and no sales leader can be expected to perform this function without the services of sales headhunters. Stone Executive is a respected sales executive search firm with a proven ability to identify, engage and attract the brightest talent in the business. Our recruitment consultants are experienced sales headhunters with a strong track-record in sales executive search, boasting an extensive network of talented sales directors and senior managers.

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