Why Leadership Must Be a Part of Your Sales Process
“Sales is Leadership / Leadership is Sales." For the past ten years, I’ve been sharing this phrase with nearly every audience I’ve spoken to. Why? It’s simple.
The phrase is much more than six words. It’s the foundation from which to create a sustainable and scalable position. Without leadership in the sales process, there is little hope of being able to stand out from the blur of the marketplace.
Customers have more options than ever, and at the same time, they have more information available to them from which to make a purchase decision. This blur of the marketplace has resulted in customers assuming everything is nothing more than a commodity. Unfortunately, far too many products, services, and even salespeople play into the idea they’re nothing more than a commodity. There are countless salespeople believing they bring nothing new to the marketplace.
When we are content to follow, it means we’re content to be seen as a commodity and be subject to the limits that are inherent with being a follower. Putting it into simpler terms, it means we’re willing to employ a “follow someone, following anyone” strategy. Is it any wonder that companies and salespeople struggle?
It all starts with a failure to stand out in the marketplace. I’m not saying it’s imperative to be a freak of nature. No, what I’m saying is following is simply not a path to success. The only path to success is being seen as the leader and doing everything expected of a leader. Thus the phrase, “Sales is Leadership / Leadership is Sales.”
The challenge is it’s far easier to be a follower and be content at managing the process. Leadership requires moving from being tactical to being strategic. Instead of simply “managing the process,” a better goal is to move past the traditional objective of selling benefits to focus instead on outcomes. More specifically, leaders focus on outcomes the customer did not think were possible.
Moving Beyond Outcomes
To make the move to being focused on outcomes, we have to be seen as the one who brings to the conversation insights nobody else brings. Customers aren’t capable of embracing what they can’t see. It’s simply impossible until the sales leader helps the customer expand their vision on what is possible. Unfortunately, few salespeople and sales organizations are capable of doing this, because they lack the most basic quality required to be a leader and that is confidence.
Being seen as a sales leader in the eyes of the customer moves us to a different place in the buying process. At this point, we’re no longer a commodity, but rather we’re the one who is focused on a much bigger picture.
Sales leadership, however, is even more than the way salespeople interface with their customers. It’s also about the style the entire sales leadership team uses. Notice, I did not use the words “sales management team.” If our goal is to not be seen as a commodity, then we must shift not only the frontline salesperson, but also the entire organization to be sales leaders.
A sales leadership team is focused on the outcome rather than the activity. Does this mean they don’t care how something is done? No, they still care how something is done, but the objective is the outcome rather than simply going through the motions of connecting dots in a process.
Manager vs. Leader
One way to look at the difference between a sales manager and a sales leader is the manager manages today based on what happened yesterday. The sales leader leads today based on the goals for tomorrow. If your expectation is to be average, then there is no need to shift from a managing model to a leadership model.
"Sales is Leadership / Leadership is Sales” comes down to believing that “average” is not acceptable and following the marketplace is never good enough. Success comes when we create the marketplace by leading our customers to achieve outcomes they didn’t think were possible and when we lead today based on our goals for tomorrow.
Mark Hunter, one of the sales world's most prominent thought leaders is now a Salesforce Sales Community contributor. This community is a new collaborative networking group for sales executives sharing best practices and innovations in sales leadership. We encourage all salesforce.com customers to join Hunter and other top sales thought leaders in the new Salesforce Sales Community.
About the author
Mark Hunter, “The Sales Hunter,” is author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price. He is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability. He was named one of the Top 50 Influencers in Sales by Top Sales World. To receive a free weekly sales tip and read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit www.TheSalesHunter.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, on Facebook and on Linkedin.
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