3 Sales Leadership Barriers to Success
Salesperson vs. Sales Leader
Some sales leadership barriers to success certainly exist, but why do so many salespeople seem to lose all their common sense and sales expertise when they are promoted to sales leadership? Presumably they received the promotion because they excelled as an effective solution seller. Company leaders then assumed they would be able to translate their individual success to the success of their sales team.
Individual Sales Performance Does Not Always Equate to Sales Leadership Success
But one role doesn’t necessarily nourish the other. Yes, you want a sales manager who has “been there done that,” but you also need a sales leader who has the skills to motivate a team and deliver team results, not just individual results.
The Role of a Sales Leader
The responsibility of leading a sales team is a very demanding one. The sales manager is the person who must lead the sales team to generate predictable and repeatable revenue, margins, win-rates, portfolio mix and customer satisfaction for the company. Company leaders judge sales leaders ultimately by the numbers they deliver quarter-by-quarter.
Yet your sales team judges you by much more…your integrity, your decision-making skills, your ability to communicate, your problem-solving, and so on.
Three Sales Leadership Barriers to Success
Our own experience over almost thirty years helping clients effectively bridge the gap between the two roles has taught us that there are three major sales leadership barriers to success as a sales manager:
1. Bossing over Coaching
Remember that sales manager who just told you what to do without explaining why or asking for your input? The “bossy” attitude just created frustration, anxiety and most often anger.
The best sales managers understand that their job is to encourage higher sales performance by coaching and developing their team members. A coach is non-judgmental and guides their team members through a process of self-evaluation and steps toward self-improvement. Then there is a plan for accountability and follow-up. This is how to grow a sales team and earn their trust.
It is very easy to lose the respect of your sales team by treating members unfairly. The best sales managers are even-handed. Their expectations of the job and the roles each sales team member plays are crystal clear and agreed to by all. They do not excuse high performers from following the same rules or behavioral norms as lower performers.
Establish the “rules of the game” with the active help of your sales team. Make sure they understand that the sales methodology you decide to follow is in their own personal best interest as well as in the best interest of the team as a whole. Insist upon high levels of transparency and accountability.
Then, with the team’s buy-in and a transparent sharing of results, you should have their willing commitment and cooperation.
3. Prioritizing Numbers Over Activities
It is your job as a sales leader to know just what critical few sales activities are most likely to result in meeting or exceeding performance targets. Figure out what these activities are (they vary from business to business, team to team) and then make sure your sales team understands how they should most productively spend their time.
Yes, the numbers matter; but in the long run, you want to build the right business with the right target clients based on the right relationships. You are looking for sustainable partnerships, not random deals.
The Bottom Line
Transitioning from sales team individual contributor to sales manager requires a shift in attitude, additional responsibility and thoughtful focus. Beware the three main sales leadership barriers to success and good luck!
To learn more about successful sales leadership, download our Sales Leadership Toolkit now.