Looking back at it, businesses were almost too simple. Designers create products, marketers decide strategy and sales execute the numbers. And because numbers ultimately did the talking, the sales director’s role was what everyone coveted.
What a difference a few years makes. Times are tough; the rules have changed, sales heads must now ‘make things happen.’ And it is much more than just a plain numbers game. It is much more nuanced than that. “What are the qualities ones needs to look for in an ideal sales leader?” is a question often asked, but rarely dealt with. Over here, we take a look at what you should keep an eye out for when looking for a sales leader or what skills you should look to imbibe if you are looking to be one
One might be the master of his thoughts, but is still a slave to his emotions. Sales leaders are arm-chair psychologists. They need to be able to connect with people and understand what makes them tick. They must inspire their team members and give positive feedback that motivates them to learn more. It’s difficult to find and hire people who have emotional intelligence already. It’s even more challenging to try to teach it.
Two: Talent Magnet
They should have the ability to see the gold that does not glitter very often. Find sales leaders whom people will fight to work with again. They must be a talent magnet who can bring on board the best crew to sail your sinking sales ship across continents. Those who fit this description are those leaders who focus on the success of the business and the team first. Not on their own success. Because when everyone is moving forward success takes care of itself.
Famed life coach Tony Robbins once said, “ it is not the lack of resources that cause failure. Its lack of resourcefulness that does.” A big part of a sales leader’s job is building internal and external relationships. This should be considered one of their primary responsibilities. Those who are the most successful are good at this. Especially when it comes to leveraging these relationships to get stuff done. And to remove any blockers along the way.
Four: Strategic AND Tactical
There needs to be a good balance between a sales leader’s tactical and strategic qualities. Some leaders are very good at talking vision, but not rolling up their sleeves, and vice versa. The best leaders know how to build and articulate a framework around how they want to run the business. At the same time they are also not being afraid to get into the trenches to make it happen. All sales leaders are battlefield commanders who must devise the company’s sales strategy to defeat the competition. This requires plotting the best course of action so that sales can be maximized using the most cost-effective sales model. The best sales leaders possess the knowledge to deploy field or inside salespeople, to segment the market into verticals and to specialize in sales teams by product or customer types when necessary.
Five: Operationally Minded
I loved it when Will Smith nailed that interview scene in the movie ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’. His dialogue was phenomenal. He said that I am the type of person, if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, I am gonna tell you that I don’t know. But I bet you what. I know how to find the answer and I will find the answer. *The line that followed was more hilarious though. * The point is that be it about working on marketing budgets or coordinating recruiting efforts, building business cases, managing headcount, or collaborating with finance — it’s all in the details for the best sales leaders. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” occasionally, but they better be able to quickly learn the answer.
Six: A Proven Playbook
This comes down to having a point of view around the sales process — how performance is managed, how hiring is done, sales enablement, event management, and more. They don’t need to be the best salesperson. What they do need is the ability to articulate and coach your playbook better than anyone else. And then you got it all.
The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to find pearls. When hiring for sales leadership roles, you have to think well beyond promoting an experienced account executive who can drive opportunities.