How do you find a person who can lead your sales teams through rapidly changing times? How do you attract and retain exceptional sales leaders for your organization? Where do you find a great sales leadership?
Over 70% of high performing sales professionals attribute a large part of their success to having a strong leader to work with on their sales efforts. So where do you find these exceptional sales leaders?
I’ve spent the last 25 plus years recruiting high performing sales leaders for many clients, from startups to Fortune 25 global businesses. Let’s talk about where I find them. That’s current tense, because many of my current clients have me keep my eyes open for exceptional sales leaders.
The first place I look for exceptional sales leaders is in the field. I go to several large trade shows every year for different clients and partners. I try to get there early and stay late because I find these are excellent places to see great sales leadership in action. I understand for many organizations trade shows are something they don’t like doing, but still require their participation.
I love to watch sales leaders get their teams ready for a busy day on the tradeshow floor. If you’ve invested in being there, don’t you want to maximize your ROI on your investment? Look around before the day starts and watch great sales leaders getting their teams ready to meet clients and customers.
Great sales leaders understand how to motivate their teams. When evaluating a sales leader, you should look for how they interact with their team members and clients. Do they coach their teams throughout the day to help keep their people focused on what is happening there and off their phones?
The second place I look for exceptional sales leaders is in different classes during the conference. If you ever wonder why customers respond positively or negatively to your new product offerings, just sit through one of the presentations that you make them go through.
Great sales leaders watch and learn what their customers are hearing from your marketing and product rollout teams. It’s also a great opportunity to build stronger relationships with your people in marketing and product development.
The third place I look for exceptional sales leaders is with their clients. Good clients and partners are a wealth of information about who the best people are that are dealing with them. I’ve found many exceptional sales leaders through talking with their clients for referrals. Great customer engagement is critical to selling more sophisticated solutions to clients. How often do your sales leaders and executives interact with clients? You can learn a lot from customers about their sales people.
Not only can you learn about their relationships, I’m always surprised how much I learn when talking with clients about your sales efforts. If you’re dealing with a key or strategic account your client team sees you several times per month and they notice the subtle changes going on in your life.
The final place I look for exceptional sales leaders is in your own organization. It’s critical today to look inside your own organization to find great sales leaders. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Try this quick test; which people on your team today would like to become a sales leader in the future? If you’re a good sales leader, you are making yourself irreplaceable. If you’re a great sales leader, you are developing a group of people who can replace you over time.
By the nature of sales, people come and go on a regular basis. Many times, it has little to do with who is managing them. This means that you must be cultivating a number of people who could step into your role. Many sales leaders struggle to invest their time in the right people to replace them.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the next generation of great sales leaders will be like you. If your industry is like my clients’, they are changing very quickly. Many of the skills that made you successful are no longer being used. Are you keeping up?
Finally, I would share that great sales leaders have strong personal brands that align with their business’ value proposition. It helps them attract great people to their teams. It allows them to be positioned as experts in their fields. With a little research and time out of the office I’m sure you can take these ideas and build a more successful sales team.
Next week we talk about the evolving role of HR in building a successful organization. I think you might have to say disconcerting, my clients do.
See you next week.
This article originally appeared on our sister blog Market Leadership Journal