Leading a Successful Sales Team

Does a good salesperson make a great team leader?

Many companies will simply promote an existing member of their sales team into the position – then wonder why their sales figures aren’t increasing, their staff turnover soars and morale starts to drop.

Not everyone is able to motivate and lead others.  A good manager needs excellent interpersonal skills – the ability to encourage their team to take direction, be motivated and committed.

Managing a sales team effectively takes dedication, leadership training, experience and clear, shared vision.

If your company is looking to recruit a new sales manager, consider these tips to ensure you choose the best person with the right knowledge, skills and attitude from the outset.  This person after all, will play a key role in driving sales and nurturing team motivation.

We often hear of sales managers who believe they should be solely responsible for sales performance.  In actual fact, a great leader should be aware that excellent results are achieved through leading and developing others.  It’s vital therefore that specific targets, aims and objectives are made clear to the rest of the salesforce.  A team without shared vision and goals is a team without motivation.  Encourage them to take responsibility for their own performance and share both individual and team objectives.

An inconsistent approach will usually lead to uncertainty, a drop in motivation and inter-team conflict.  Trust in the manager is as vital as respect if they are to lead their team effectively.  This calls for consistency in both message and approach, along with honesty, openness and proactive, regular communication.  Together, these will in most instances, result in a team which shares responsibility for vision and actual performance.

Of course, in addition to looking to the future, a salesforce must also be kept aware of where they are with regards to performance, if they are to have a clear idea of what they need to do individually and as a team, to get from A to B.  For this reason, it’s vital that regular meetings are held to review performance and results shared, with strategies amended where necessary.

Being able to adapt their communication style to suit the style of the individual team member is one of the most difficult skills for a sales manager to develop yet is without doubt, the most important.  Adapting styles is how individuals are kept motivated and how they retain buy-in to that shared vision and expected level of performance.  Adopting what might be perceived as an aggressive approach by a more reflective type of person or reversely, communicating in anything less than a positive, confident manner with a dominant individual, is not likely to have a constructive impact on sales performance.

Finally – how many times have you heard the complaint that someone feels they aren’t included in decision making?  What they’re really saying is that they don’t feel valued. Don’t forget that they are the ones who receive direct feedback from customers and those within in the industry, so their contribution could prove very useful.  By seeking their opinion or advice on relevant matters, you’ll also help to develop a culture of belonging, feeling valued and shared ownership for performance.

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