And that means you have to change, too.
That’s right. We’re looking at you, sales leader.
Sales performance is no longer driven by leaders who motivate with fear, demand that their reps always be closing, or portray any other Alec Baldwin-esque behaviors.
The good news is that transforming into a modern sales leader may not be as hard as you think. We spoke with some of our own managers to see what it takes, and here’s what they said:
5 Required Habits Of Modern Sales Leaders
1. Engage in Thought Leadership
This one seems obvious. But we’re talking more than just occasionally hitting the “Tweet” button on an interesting article.
Send interesting articles about your industry to your team members, colleagues and even prospects. Participate in discussions at conferences or on social media. Maybe even write a blog post or two of your own.
LevelEleven Director of Sales Development Brendan Hartt listed this as the first trait of a modern sales leader: “Whatever company you’re at, be recognized as a thought leader in that space,” he said.
2. Be in the Trenches
If you’ve made it to the ranks of sales leader, then it probably means you’re a pretty good salesperson. So don’t stop!
Instead of hiding away in a corner office to manage your sales team’s performance from afar, be a selling sales leader. Get on the floor and try to hit those sales KPIs with your sales team.
The best way to lead your team is by example. Hearing you making calls and closing deals can motivate your sales reps to do the same.
“Hearing each other on the phone is really important,” LevelEleven VP of Sales Jeff Dolan said.
He also advised against letting salespeople go into conference rooms for all of their phone calls.
“It gets quiet, and then it gets quieter because no one wants to make a call. They don’t want to be put on the spot against their peers,” he said.
The best way to prevent the deadly silence? Get on the phone yourself and start selling with your reps. It also provides opportunities for mentoring, where reps can learn from your example and you can demonstrate strategies.
3. Prioritize Consistency
Don’t try to be consistent. Be consistent.
Consistency in management is critical for structure, transparency and morale. Of course, you must be consistent in how you interact with and evaluate every team member. But it’s also important to maintain consistency with meetings and standups.
Don’t cancel your one-on-one coaching sessions with reps every other week because they don’t seem important — improve them so that they are meaningful.
“There has to be consistency and structure to how you run the team,” Dolan said. “If you start changing things, then nothing is real.”
Consistency creates a cadence of expectations and accountability, for both you and your team.
4. Live and Die By Data
Yes, you know that you should live and die by your sales KPIs.
But the truth is, data should stretch beyond sales performance, too. It should guide almost every decision you make. Do you feel like your team is spending too much time on small deals? What does the data tell you?
“Modern sales leaders look to data to either confirm or disprove what their gut is telling them,” Dolan said.
In other words, modern sales leaders understand not only what is happening, but why it is happening.
5. Forge Collaborative Culture
Company culture is something a lot of people talk about but, but sales leaders often mistake as a trivial or fluffy concept. A modern sales leader not only recognizes the importance of culture, but creates a positive and collaborative environment to promote it.
LevelEleven Account Executive Ryan Balicki emphasized that sales leaders need to build a team-oriented atmosphere, where sales reps are willing to share what works for them and ask for help when they need it.
“There’s nothing worse than having a salesperson who thinks they know everything,” Balicki said.
He added that this plays heavily into the hiring process. Sales managers need to really make sure new hires fit in with the team and culture.
“I can teach anybody how to sell, but I can’t teach anybody how to be a good person,” Balicki said.
If you think you’re ready to become a modern sales leader, join top sales leaders in a one-time only virtual event on how to build a high-performing sales team: