How a Sales Manager Can Develop Sales Leadership Skills
If you want to become a high impact sales manager, the type that consistently achieves great results with your sales team, you need to master key foundational management skills. These include developing the skills and techniques to (i) recruit and hire the right people, (ii) manage sales performance, (iii) manage the sales pipeline, (iv) coach and develop your team, and (iv) lead your team. These areas not only provide the foundation for sales management success, but also are the building blocks for career growth and advancement.
But what about making the transition from sales manager to sales leader? The best leaders possess key attributes that are driven by how they are perceived by themselves and others.
Unlike the specific sales management skills, these sales leadership skills are more subjective in nature and driven by your actions and attitude. They are an overall perception of characteristics, traits, and personality, which, together, make up a positive image of you as a sales leader – the person your salespeople will eagerly follow because of trust, confidence, and respect. Because the personal abilities are largely personality and behavioral characteristics, they are hard to measure and equally hard to change and develop.
Recognition of your development needs is the first step. One way to take ownership and responsibility for your own skill development is to continually assess your performance to identify your strengths, and areas for improvement.
The following list of self-assessment questions can assist with this effort. Think about this by considering the following leadership traits and placing “I” at the beginning each of these that you think applies to you:
- Am a good role model.
- Am enthusiastic and optimistic.
- Have a sincere and honest personality.
- Have integrity and follow through on my commitments.
- Have earned my team’s confidence, trust and respect.
- Have high energy
- Role up my sleeves to help get the job done.
- Show empathy when appropriate.
- Maintain a positive, action-oriented philosophy, even in the face of problems.
- Respond quickly when sales people have questions or problems.
The more of these traits you, and even more importantly the people you work with, apply to you, the further along you are in developing your leadership traits. Ultimately, everyone has room for growth and there are time where we will fall short in some of these areas. That is why they we use the term “growth” as opposed to “achievement” when we look at these traits.
It may challenging to improve behaviors like “sincere and open personality” or “integrity and follow through on my commitments.” Great sales leaders realize, however, that personal growth and career growth are inextricably linked and, as such, will continue to strive for improvement over a long, successful, and rewarding career.
About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.