23rd Oct, 2018
, , Designation
“Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example”
This simple sentence carries the essence of what people spend years and may be even truck-loads of money in trying to master – the art of effective leadership. It is true, leaders are not born, they are made – with hard work, skillful nurturing and correct guidance.
Now what’s the difference in the traits for a leader and a sales leader as such? Actually none! Sales, as a professional domain involves a lot of amount of convincing psychology (well, apart from the product/service value proposition) – convincing someone to place their money on your solutions/ services or word of advice, if in a consulting business.
Isn’t the case similar in rest of the professions too, where one knowingly or unknowingly works as per the same convincing psychology – at times with self, with the team, with board members, with clients and so on and so forth.
In a nutshell, we are all salespeople in some way or the other and when it comes to sales domain, this pliable yet resilient human element becomes even stronger.
So, what is it that distinguishes a leader from a great leader or in most of the scenarios, a boss from a leader? Let’s look at 5 essential traits which demarcate the two breeds clearly and see how many you can tick for yourself:
They Don’t Just Talk, But Lead Transformation
Smooth, convincing talkers or mere strategists are not what we are talking about here. We are talking about the real changemakers. We are aware of the dynamic times we live in and how technological advancements are changing the structure of traditional sales strategies.
In such times, leaders are the fulcrum of change. Their strength of ideas as well as confidence of landing those ideas is what converts into the actual output showcased by the team.
It’s good to have amazing ideas but that alone is not enough – it is important to take those ideas further and lead the way to transformation. After all, your being the best orator or a life coach won’t land your organisation those great deals but your actions succeeding your ideas would.
They Are Hardwired for Innovation
One thing that divides people from being ordinary and extra ordinary is their belief system. Because that is what they base rest everything upon. A great sales leader is aware of the pace of change around us and is still an ardent believer of a better future. This belief system automatically makes him/ her a perfect hatch-ground for innovation.
They believe in following processes and are not rouge yet they never compromise on the scope of innovation and betterment in those processes. They are well-networked, and they leverage the same for knowing more and more about what’s happening around them.
Taking cues from there, they love to introspect and then inspire innovation in every possible manner in their home base. Faced with challenges, for example, if automation is giving a downplay to sales revenue, they chose to take that as a springboard and innovate a way to leverage automation for even better revenues.
They Are Empathetic Yet A Stickler of Quality
They are compassionate yet stern, flexible yet practice non-negotiable integrity and this unusual but balanced mix of empathy and strength is the charm a great sales leader exudes. You’re not a sole runner when in the position of a leader. You have a whole team, an organisation behind you and with you.
Hence every action of yours trickles down to the last hierarchical level and therefore, it matters. Empathy is all about being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes (it’s a great trick to prevent yourself from being unknowingly judgemental also) and no, it’s not same as its sister – sympathy.
But that doesn’t mean you are all the goody-goody boss because there comes a time when you need to exercise strict actions as well and the empathy of a great leader never comes in way of doing that. Being non-compromising when it comes to quality and integrity, come what may, is setting a big example that you do the right thing and for the right reason and you won’t accept a callous attitude in this regard from anyone including yourself.
They Are Effective Communicators
Both the words are equally important here – effective as well as communicator. Great sales leaders are marvelous listeners. They have a sharp acumen to pick up even what’s unsaid in a conversation. Strategy formations don’t always happen inside those boardrooms, instead, the mind of a sales leader is quite adept to listen and sieve the conversations and bring out the actionable from therein, right at that moment.
Hence, they are effective when they are in the listening mode and they are further impactful, when they are communicating/ sharing their ideas with the rest. Also, they know the pulse of communication. Being in sales already teaches them the art to wear several hats as per the occasion (or to say, the customers) and they apply the same rules even when dealing with internal audience.
What will click with a batch of senior managers, or what is it that tickles those partners or what exactly is the must-be-addressed point for the line of managers – they are perfectly aware of. After all, in sales or not, there’s never a one-size-fits-all, especially when it comes to effective communication.
They Believe in Constant Coaching – For Self and Others
Sales is way much more about mentorship in comparison to any other profession. A great sales leader is never boastful of himself or herself, rather, they are a firm believer of lifelong learning and an ardent advocate of – Nobody knows it all!
Leadership has a lot to do with proficiency and that’s why you’d see many leaders who are constantly investing in themselves to keep up the competence level. Again, the same becomes a critical factor in sales because the word of caution infamous in the domain is ‘stagnation’ and good leaders are aware how to steer clear from that black-hole.
But that doesn’t mean they are all self-absorbed all the time, in fact, they have perfected the art of moving from learning to performance – a knowledge which they apply generously onto their teams. With a sharp eye to identify a breakthrough potential – in a deal or in an individual, they know how to value effort – which may or may not be accompanied by immediate results.
They don’t exaggerate successes or failures but are quick to acknowledge a positive step and similarly, quicker to reach out, support and course correct a lost track.
Of course, for the people who are already in such hierarchical ranks, it becomes a serious matter of choice – whether they choose to lead or to just enjoy the position. In any of the cases, the latter doesn’t last long and for the first option – the hustle is constant.
While these traits are nothing new to be quoted and we all may be aware of these things deep down inside but then who said that it’s only the ground-breaking stuff which works.
Just remember, a great sales leader is like the captain of a ship and the waves of transformation we are witnessing today, the captain can either steer the ship back towards the port or win over the waves and carry out the momentous journey (and in worst case, sink the ship). So, there’s always a choice and a great leader always makes a wise one.
What do you think goes into the making of a brilliant sales leader? Do share with us your views in the comments section below.