7 Principles for Successful Sales Leadership
One of the perks of my job is the interaction I am privileged to have with so many really great sales leaders around the world. In a recent tour of some of our great customers, I was struck by some common principles that are applied by those sales leaders who are at the top of their game.
1. Lead with Purpose
Your team cares less about the ‘what’ you are telling them to do, but more about the ‘why.’ With a shared understanding of where you are headed, you can more easily collaborate and communicate. If you can articulate a higher purpose than just ‘sell more’—they know they have to do that without you telling them—they will understand the ‘why’ you are taking the direction you are taking, and that is always more powerful than the ‘what’. When ‘why’ is understood, the team has a better chance of figuring out the ‘how’.
2. Hold Everyone Accountable to High Standards
Inspire your team to execute to the best of their ability–every time. Every single internal and external interaction matters. It reflects on your values if you let poor practices develop without instant intervention. Slow response to a customer, casual email communication, bad manners to internal colleagues, poor quality proposals to customers, or arriving late or unprepared to a meeting, all let you (and the whole team) down.
3. Write the Plays–and then Play Them Right
Sales strategy is easy. Consistent execution and discipline is harder, and separate the great from the mediocre. From business development to follow-up after the sale, the overall sales process (or go-to-market strategy) contains milestones, trigger points, best practices, disciplines, and specific tactics. Write the plays, and then ensure that they are rigorously adopted, every day.
4. Be the Role Model
As a sales leader ,you will undoubtedly have other things on your plate distracting from your core task. De-prioritize these time thieves. Spend your time on exhibiting to your team how you are holding yourself accountable to the high standards that you have set. Lead from the front. Execute your plays. Remember, you are in charge.
5. Be Prepared to Rebuild
If you don't have the team you need, you must be prepared to rebuild. Always be recruiting and building a bench. Just like nurturing prospects for future business, the salespeople that you want to hire are probably not immediately available the first time you connect with them. Start the conversation early.
6. Prepare to Win
Winning doesn’t happen by accident. It usually happens when you are better prepared than your competitor. Methodology helps, but systematic planning will equip you to deal with situations that arise without warning. Deal reviews, account plans, sales process refinement, and smart sales software are all tools you might use. Once the game starts the team is usually on their own and it is then too late to help. You need to prepare them in advance to win.
7. Embrace Change Methodically
The business world continues to evolve. Buyers change. New competitors emerge. Economic stability fluctuates. Responding to change is never easy–particularly when things are already going well. When things are going badly you might feel the need to press the restart button. In either case, (1) you need to make this quarter’s number working with what you have today and (2) what you have today will need to change just in time to serve your needs tomorrow.
Next Step: If you to want improve what you do today, it might be easiest to begin with a great sales playbook. Here's a guide.
Donal Daly, 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 Daly and other top sales thought leaders in the new Salesforce Sales Community.
About the Author:
Author of Amazon #1 Best-seller Account Planning in Salesforce, Donal Daly is CEO and Founder of (his fifth global business enterprise) The TAS Group, the global leader in Smart Sales Transformation. Combining his expertise in enterprise software applications, artificial intelligence, and sales methodology, he continues to revolutionize the sales effectiveness industry. Feel free to download The TAS Group's latest publication, Battling the 57%: Deconstructing the Buyer Seller Dance.
For even more sales leadership tips, check out our free e-book by clicking the button below.