Clive Woodward, Alex Ferguson, or Dave Brailsford are three examples of leaders who have had a profound impact on the teams they lead but without being an outstanding performer in their own right.
However, unlike many sales leaders, who are selected because they were the highest performing individual contributor, and this is the primary qualify to do the job. They are then usually told to get on with it, and have to learn while on the job.
It's hard because leading a sales teams requires different skills, no longer are you looking out for number one, you have a span of control that will potentially include, old and new, over quota and under quota, open minded and closed mindsets. Plus the weight of senior leadership bearing down on you to hit the quota for the quarter.
It's a tough job.
The traits listed in the article are useful forward-looking characteristics that if the sales leader and organisation they work with follow, then the chances of success will be improved.
Two that particularly resonated with me were:
They are facilitative coaches. Those two words together define the trait of a great sales leader better than either one of them by themselves. The sales leaders' role is to lead, coach, and guide students through their process of solving problems while supporting them
They don't focus on the number; they focus on what it takes to make the number. It is so true but does require the organisation to align their thinking. I was chatting to a sales leader last week who was expressing exasperation at the fact that she is hounded daily for the number. She says it is so distracting and diverts attention from the even more important job of creating a pipeline for the future.
One further trait I'd add to the list in the article is a proactive social media presence. A modern sales leader cannot neglect social media usage; they should look to develop connections across the client base, provide insightful content to demonstrate their industry expertise. For the modern sales leader, social provides a great platform to show that the team they lead, builds and nurtures trusting relationships with clients.
Pick any sport: 99.9% of the coaches have played the game—but very few of them played it well enough to make a living at it, let alone earning fans, gaining celebrity status, or becoming a household name. Their strength is being a coach