Great sales leaders have a high level of influence. Measure where you stand.

Sales Management | Sales Leadership

One of the driving forces of sales leadership is influence – the ability to affect the motivations, actions, and behaviors of your sales team. Your positive influence on your team gets things started, builds momentum, and motivates your salespeople to produce great sales results, even when the going gets rough.

Without a high level of influence, you’ll never be a great sales leader.

Management Style and Motivation

There are two primary methods to influence your salespeople, as individuals and collectively as a team: your management style and motivation.

Your management style (see here) is the approach you use in different situations to achieve desired results through your salespeople. For example, sometimes your approach must be directive and forceful to achieve sales results. At other times, you need to be supportive, for example, when a salesperson shows progress. The challenge is to select the right style for each situation. Flexibility is key. Knowing what style is most appropriate in each situation is the essence of leadership and effective influence. Different styles appeal to different people; likewise, various styles are needed for distinct situations.

Motivation (see here) is a combination of strong needs that causes a person to act in specific ways. Because many motivations are internal, you, as a leader, don’t control other people’s motivations. However, you can satisfy one or more individual motivations by creating a climate in which those needs can be met. That means you must be perceptive in understanding both team and individual needs.

Assess Your Influence

How do you gauge your overall level of influence with your team?

Here are ten sales leadership skills/behaviors statements that will help you self-assess yourself against behaviors relating to influencing your sales team.

  1. I have a flexible “style,” ranging from supportive to directive to participatory, as needed.
  2. I regularly provide each sales team member recognition, reinforcement, and encouragement.
  3. I am persuasive in getting your sales team to support my plans and goals.
  4. I build teamwork and create a climate for good cooperation and performance.
  5. I promptly take corrective action on sub-par performance in a positive manner.
  6.  I am tough-minded and demanding when required.
  7. I am sensitive to individual motivations and try to satisfy personal needs.
  8. I have high expectations of individual salespeople and my sales team as a whole.
  9. I appraise and counsel on overall performance, problems, and progress and then act as a mentor.
  10. I empower my sales team with responsibilities and corresponding accountability.

Assign frequency values –e.g., Always, Usually, Sometimes, Rarely, or Never -- to each of the above skills/behaviors based on your own experiences, interactions with your team, ongoing relationships, and observations.

Be honest with yourself, and when you finish, identify 1 or 2 of your major development needs to improve your influence abilities. It’s important to note that leadership styles and motivation aren’t the only elements impacting your overall level of influence with your sales team. Other factors contributing to your influence include building trust, listening, and good decision-making.

Ultimately, there’s no surefire way to influence your team. People are different, and there’s a wide range of situations. Your ability to flex your leadership style and understand your team’s motivators is essential and will significantly impact both your influence and leadership effectiveness.

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About David Jacoby

As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.