As Leaders in organizations, it is part of our mandate (whether stated or not) to build organizational capabilities.
Yes we do this through mentoring and guiding sales people in their day to day roles, but we also have an accountability to be on the look out for good management candidates and do the right thing for their careers – even if this means promoting someone who is a dependable superstar.
There are many different attributes that identify strong management capability. The top 5 are discussed below:
- Leadership: If you spend some time watching your team, this will be fairly easy to spot – if the group is comfortable. Leaders will (in my experience) step forward into a role where they will naturally lead or provide guidance to their team. Watch the Team and see who among their peers they look up to or consult or defer to. These could all be signs of a developing leader.
- Ability to follow as well as lead: Although the new leader may have some great ideas, they also need to learn to follow direction as well as to give it. There will always be directives and directions that come down through an organization and the new leader has to recognize that the time to share their opinion and question these is with their leader – not with their new Team. It might sound really basic and simple, yet many new leaders forget this in an attempt to win favour on their team.
- Attitude: The new leader needs an attitude and approach that conveys maturity, calmness in the face of adversity (or angry customers) and a fact based approach to finding causes to current issues and creating solutions that can be agreed to by all parties.
- An Organized and Methodical Approach: Successful sales people can get by without a high degree of organization (although that could be debated at length). However the Leader of a Sales Team cannot. The Leader needs to be aware of deals in the call, the actions that are being taken to close the gap and what needs to be done to ensure that the deals that have been called for the month will, in fact, come in this month.
- Collaboration: The sales organization itself cannot not sell, deliver, service, and market to the customers. In order for the sales team to succeed, a high level of collaboration between sales management and other parts of the organization is required. The Leader needs to not only be prepared for this requirement, but also to embrace the work required to advance deals, product changes, or handle difficult customer interactions.
There are, of course, many other attributes that are important for sales leadership. However these 5 foundation attributes will serve all new managers well as they develop their own style and approach to their work.
By John Benson