It’s the Perfect Time to Start Leading Again
Yesterday, I wrote about how the inventory shortages presented a perfect time to restart your sales processes. Because, of course, once inventories begin to normalize, you’ll want solid sales processes in place if you plan to grow market share and hold more gross than your neighboring dealers.
Assuming you’ve begun to tackle those in the last 24 hours, the next step to dominating your market for the foreseeable future is to help your sales managers become sales leaders. Let me briefly explain the major differences in those two titles. While automotive sales managers tend to have a team of average sellers and are constantly recruiting and hiring, sales leaders quickly build and maintain a team of superstars who stick around.
The great news is that it’s ridiculously simple to go from sales manager to sales leader, especially once you understand the twelve traits of great sales leadership. I’ll use the rest of this post to introduce these, as this will help you and your team assess where each sales manager could improve:
12 Traits of Great Sales Leaders
They’re Authentic. Great sales leaders are honest and authentic. They show their true self – warts and all – to their teams. Their salespeople appreciate this and, as a result, are more likely to trust them at every turn.
They’re Optimistic. Simply put, optimists see challenges as opportunities; pessimists see them as overwhelming obstacles. Optimistic sales leaders know their work will pay off; pessimistic sales managers think “Why even try?”
They’re Fair. Because they’re fair, their teams are willing to do more and try more. Unfair sales managers instill fear in their teams – even in their top performers – because no one knows the consequences of any good or bad actions. When you’re seen as fair, your team trusts you, and when employees trust their boss, they’re less likely to leave, take sick days, or shirk important responsibilities.
They’re Learners. Great sales leaders know they don’t have all the answers, so they’re always open to new ideas from everyone and from everywhere. (Even from the Green Peas they just hired!)
They’re Curious. Being open to new ideas is important, but great sales leaders are also curious. This means they’re actively seeking new ideas to improve their own team’s results.
They’re Decisive. Great sales leaders know that making no decision is often worse than making a bad decision. So, while they’d prefer to always make good decisions, they’re willing to risk a bad decision made for good reasons. Indecision can quickly destroy an otherwise productive sales team; and top sellers don’t want to work for those suffering from analysis paralysis.
They’re Focused. Because they know each day can be different, great sales leaders never allow today’s distractions to remove their focus on those activities that can drive the greatest results in both the short and long term.
They’re Dissatisfied. You may not always see it, but great sales leaders believe in the power of continuous process improvement. This means that even after a record month, they’re quick to look for better, more efficient, and/or more effective ways, methods, and/or marketing to drive even stronger results next time.
They’re Fearless. Being fearless allows great sales leaders to be open to new ideas, try new methods, take risks, and heap the praise for their success on others.
They’re Thinkers. They know every action has consequences, so they’re thoughtful in how and when they make changes or how they introduce anything new to the team. This doesn’t mean they’re afraid to share with their team or that they would lie to keep their team motivated. To the contrary, they just know nothing happens in a vacuum, so they consider the outcomes of their actions before acting.
They’re Principled. Driven to always do what’s right, great sales leaders are guided by their unwavering principles. This sometimes brings them the respect of their peers, and more importantly, always earns them the respect of their team.
They’re Servants. Above all else, great sales leaders “work” for their salespeople, not the other way around. They are often more committed to a seller’s individual success than the sellers are themselves.
What About Talent?
Some readers may have noticed what’s not included in this list: Talent. Talent is overrated in sales leadership. When it comes to talent in salespeople, it’s often just an excuse used by weak sales managers to explain the difference between the salesperson on the top and those near the bottom. You see, by blaming someone’s lack of sales success on a lack of talent, a sales manager doesn’t have to take responsibility for that salesperson’s failure.
Neither leadership nor sales is some sport where God-given abilities (aka talent) will elevate the lazy over the hardworking. In other words, talent is meaningless when it comes to sales leadership; as hard work beats talent on any day ending in a “Y.”