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The Best Sales Leaders Understand Their Dual Roles

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It’s fair to say that most sales leaders got promoted to their jobs because they were good salespeople. And, as we all know, being a good salesperson isn’t the same as being the best sales leader. In fact, sometimes the best salespeople don’t make good sales managers; and sometimes, the best sales leaders were not good salespeople.

The trick is to recognise the difference between being a super salesperson and being a leader of salespeople.

To understand your role as a sales leader, you also have to understand your role as leader because they’re intertwined.

  • A leader is someone who shows the way.
  • A sales leader shows the way and helps his/her salespeople to get there on their own.
The problem with this dual role is the tendency for sales leaders –– who were super salespeople –– to take over. They want to step in and solve their sales reps’ problems by doing it for them rather than coaching them in the skills needed to do it on their own. The sales managers feel that salespeople will learn how to succeed through observation.

In the sales leader role, there’s quite a lot to grasp about what it really means to achieve results through others. If you want the accelerated impact of sales success from ten people vs. just yourself, you have to start by thinking about what you did that made you successful. Also consider some of the best practises that others do that make them successful. And, learn what best practise means at your company. Then, look at the things that your salespeople do that work –– and what they do that doesn’t work. Find the gaps, and help develop skills for each person in his/her weakest areas.

Your next step should be to help your salespeople see their strengths and weaknesses: to develop self-awareness about their capabilities. You have to help them figure out what areas they need to develop, and then help them along the way.

Again, this doesn’t mean telling your people what to do. It means discussing the subject with them, collaborating with them, giving them examples, and maybe even teaching them to some extent. It’s not about saying, “You need to use better questions with your customers,” assuming that will get the job done. It’s about agreeing that better questioning skills are needed and then together determining how to improve them, practising and evaluating results.

The Richardson Sales Performance sales coaching process gives sales leaders the tools they need to have these kinds of discussions. We understand the challenge that sales leaders face in recognising that their job isn’t just about sales, so we help them to learn about their sales reps. The goal is to treat these reps as people with needs and to help them solve those needs, just as the sales reps help customers.

In effect, sales leaders need to treat their team as customers, gaining insights into their needs and helping them to be better salespeople.

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