5 Essential Skills of a Great Sales Leader

5 Essential Skills of a Great Sales Leader

The role of a sales leader can be challenging – managing teams, projecting sales, enabling and sustaining a stable (and hopefully successful) sales process, and more! The job description is clear. Your role is defined. But, what skills really set the great sales leaders apart from the rest of the pack?

1. Strategic

Every great sales leader must be strategic. In a position where you are constantly reviewing data, plotting an approach and predicting an outcome, it’s crucial to be not only analytical but also investigative. It requires the ability to recognize patterns, tune into trends, and seek out the necessary insights.

Data is central to these points, and thus, must be readily available to you. CRM systems can provide some of the data you need, but in most cases, sales leaders are also pulling data from alternate teams/ resources, as well as anecdotal insights from their sales team members that never made it into the CRM system! If there is a problem to be solved, a hurdle in your team’s pathway, you’re the leader to figure it out. Devising the how-to plan isn’t even possible unless you have the most efficient tools to do so. A leader recognizes this challenge and will approach a solution strategically.

2. Innovative

According to GE’s 2012 Global Innovation Barometer, 92% of senior executives agree that “innovation is the main lever to create a more competitive economy” (Inc.com). The ability to innovate is a vital skill. In an industry that’s about as old as they come, it can be hard to think outside the box and reinvent a new and better way.

Great sales leaders are always looking for a new way to do things better. By nature, they are receptive and open to untried methods that may afford them greater efficiencies and growth – that competitive edge.

CRM has been a cornerstone tool in just about every sales organization. With new technologies abound, maybe it’s time to think outside of the software box. SalesWise is an innovative Business Relationship Intelligence platform that provides sales leaders with real-time data synchronized across all their systems to provide a full 360-view of customer interactions.

3. Communicative

Having a strong, innovative plan is great and all, but if you can’t effectively communicate it with your team, you go nowhere. Communication is essential in any managerial role, but to a much larger extent in a sales leadership role. Relationships both inside and outside of the organization carry great weight. Insight into customer interactions is important, but so are insights into inter-departmental interactions. 80% of line-of-business leaders in sales, HR, procurement and more say problems arise due to different internal systems/ applications that do not talk to each other (IDC). It’s clear siloed structures are a challenge.

Collaboration is the brother to effective communication. 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures (Salesforce). It’s fundamental to a sales leader’s role. Successful sales models employ not only a smooth process, but also equal collaboration between both sales and non-sales team members alike. Data limited to CRM licensed users and/ or an individual’s inbox makes collaboration an uphill, time-consuming, and costly battle. That’s why SalesWise believes in democratizing your data to facilitate communication and office-wide collaboration.

4. Effective

In a personality test, top sales managers scored 27% higher in the priority-focused facet than underperforming sales managers. To be effective, sales leaders must be good at identifying and tackling the priorities. They’re impactful – seeing the big picture and discovering the one solution that can make it better. In fact, high-performing sales leaders are 51% more effective, on average, in meeting their quota goals than their underperforming counterparts (Harvard Business Review).

So, how is this possible if, sales team members only spend about 1/3 of their time selling? What else could they be doing? The rest of the time is spent on administrative tasks (e.g., CRM data entry), meetings, and research. What if you could increase sales productivity by reducing the need for data entry, catch-up meetings, and customer insight research?

SalesWise’s proprietary Cross Application Relationship Data (CARD) platform enables visibility into every vital conversation with prospects and customers, meetings occurred or upcoming, documents exchange, and every person involved in a sales relationship. Everything aggregated into one simple, always up-to-date view. By just checking the CARD, sales leaders and their teams can share real-time critical intelligence across the enterprise while more effectively managing their sales relationships. Talk about impact!

5. Motivational

Lastly, every great sales leader must be a motivator! As the late and great Muhammad Ali once said, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” A sales leader’s job is to minimize the pebbles for his team.

Coaching is the number one sales management duty that drives sales performance. 69% of salespeople who exceed their annual quota rate their sales manager as being excellent or above average (Harvard Business Review). A great sales leader is a great coach who inspires his team to reach their greatest potential. Challenges to a sales team’s productivity, data accessibility, and integration are all pebbles in the sales process. To motivate, great sales leaders must eliminate these stones.

Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Behind every great sales leader is a team of great sales people. Together, you are stronger. The right tools can help to set you apart. To learn more how SalesWise’s Business Relationship Intelligence platform can enable sales leaders, visit www.saleswise.com/the-platform/.

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