But first, what exactly is a modern sales leader – and why is it so important?
The modern sales leader has an entirely different profile than the sales leader of the past. While sales teams will continue to be made up of folks who know how to uncover pain and build value, the leader is someone who has an operational and metrics-oriented mindset, and knows how to manage a millennial workforce that desires real-time feedback on performance.
In one of our previous posts, we describe the modern sales leaders’ operational traits like this:
“The modern sales leader is hungry and competitive about crushing their sales number, but they dissect every part of the sales process, manage around metrics and fuse CRM into the sales process so deeply that it’s not a pain for salespeople to use – it’s just how they do their job. They have operations people at their right hand, define sales metrics and KPIs for every step of the sales process and are obsessing about conversion rates along the way. A salesperson’s weekly 1:1 still reviews what’s closing, but more time is spent on the behaviors and activities that will lead to sales results, and reviewing metrics so coaching can be a bit more objective and consistent.”
Do you have what it takes to be a modern sales leader? Let’s find out.
4 Key Traits of a Modern Sales Leader
1. Being Nimble & Proactive
A modern sales organization feels nimble, responding to warning signs and adjusting team focus in real time based on the needs of the business.
Salespeople are focused on closing as much as they can as fast as they can.
But what happens if you see that prospecting time is shrinking, or there are less proposals going out to prospects? Got new messaging or a new product you want to take to market? Or what if a sales rep always seems “busy” but isn’t closing anything? How do you align yourself to be proactive with your sales team to react accordingly?
The way you get salespeople to embrace and test changes is an important aspect of being a modern sales leader. That’s where the rubber meets the road at a high growth company.
Even if sales are strong this month, the modern sales leader is constantly monitoring all key metrics to adjust behaviors when necessary to ensure next month will be on track as well. The ability to execute on the day-to-day realities and quickly rally and redirect your team to fully optimize their performance is one of the most important aspects of leading a sales team.
2. Helping Buyers Make Good Decisions
Modern sales leaders are their customers’ biggest advocates. Rather than try to explain their way through the sales process or attempt to convince the prospect to move forward, they produce content or find content that speaks directly to the situation to help their buyers make the right decisions.
They aren’t selling in a traditional sense, they’re helping prospects move through the buying process and in turn, they become a trusted and invaluable resource to the customer. They build loyalty and relationships. And if you do that the right way, sales happen faster, and more predictively.
In a previous post, we talked about sending 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. “Whatever company you’re at, be recognized as a thought leader in that space,” commented Brendan Hartt, the director of sales development at LevelEleven.
3. Letting Metrics Do the Coaching
The manager is a metrics-driven coach – they learn what the top performers do and encourage those behaviors through key performance indicators.
Define and embrace the sales KPI’s that matter for your business. Follow controllable and leading indicators as opposed to interesting and lagging ones, and limit yourself to watching three or four at a time. Make them outcome-based (e.g., conversations as opposed to calls), and be aware that those will be unique by sales role (e.g., field sales versus inside sales). If your group knows that you value this as part of the culture, they’ll value it too.
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?
4. Correcting Course & Constantly Adjusting
The modern sales leader is almost like an air traffic controller – constantly monitoring and course correcting to keep the business running smoothly.
They are in the trenches with the team and they are helping to guide, reflect, and adjust. This doesn’t happen just at the end of each quarter, but is a constant state of mind by the modern sales leader in order to build a predictable revenue machine.
Modern sales leaders need to engage directly in the sales process – be involved, but don’t take over. Open your own line of communication to the buyer so you can remain connected and keep teaching and learning from them. This gives you the context to speak about the buyer’s process with your salespeople.
Add a quarterly win/loss analysis with the full team. You can discuss things like what triggered the purchase for a certain buyer, or if they walked away, what you could have done differently to win. Then adjust your sales process accordingly.
“I want people to wake up in the morning every day thinking about how they’re going to close a deal, how they’re going to push a deal forward…I want to bring visibility and accountability to what people are doing every single day.” – Randy Wootton, CEO, Rocket Fuel
Being a modern sales leader is just part of building a high performance sales team. Find out what else it takes by getting your copy of our latest webinar: