What is the #1 problem facing your revenue team? Meeting quota? Closing the quarter strong? Keeping up with shifts in the market? Or is it something deeper — something that has the power to make or break your revenue organization?
In a nutshell, is the real problem your front line sales leaders?
Sales teams are under a lot of pressure. On top of hours of internal meetings and meticulous updating of lead and opportunity records, they still have to find time in the week to sell, sell, sell. Not everyone is up to that challenge, which means it’s no surprise that the top performers — the ones who rise up to save the quarter again and again — tend to stand out from the pack. And they’re often the ones who get tapped to start managing other sellers. But too often, CROs and VPs just assume that a top-performing rep can instantly replicate that success across the team.
It’s time to confront a hard truth: The skills that make these reps excel at closing deals don’t always directly translate to leading a team. Your highest performing sales rep may not be the best choice for a sales manager — at least, not without some additional training and support.
So how do you find the right person for the job?
Oddly enough, the exact qualities that make someone a phenomenal sales rep may make them a terrible leader. The confidence that helps them win deals over and over again could blind them to weaknesses in team performance. The tried-and-true methodology they use to lock in logos may not produce the same results for the other reps they would lead on your team. Approaches, communication styles, and preferred conversation channels can vary widely between a front line leader and the rest of your sellers. But if sales acumen alone isn’t a good enough indicator of a strong front line leader, what skills should you be looking for?
3 qualities that make a great sales leader
- A beginner’s mindset
Market conditions are constantly changing. For the team to move with the times, they need a leader who is capable of adapting and constantly learning. That requires a leader who doesn’t take anything for granted, and is always able and eager to find new, creative approaches to problems. They have to let go of rigid preconceptions and be open to learning from other leaders — and even other reps.When it comes to managing individuals on the team, a leader with a beginner’s mindset understands that every rep is different and may need different things to be successful. They will prioritize finding solutions that work, instead of insisting on a rigid method or approach just because it always worked for them.
Some sales reps will do whatever it takes to close a deal, even if that means lost data, dubious workarounds, or bypassing key stakeholders. If that happens once or twice, it’s regrettable. But once that becomes standard operating procedure, it can be catastrophic for morale — and for your company’s reputation.A strong front line leader values accountability for themselves and for everyone on their team. They understand that the established process, metrics, and methodology ensure sustainable success, and they impart that sense of respect onto their people and processes.
- Service-oriented leadership
Sales is a team sport. A leader who always needs to be the star player will quickly leave their team in the dust. An intuitive leader tallies wins based on team success, not personal triumphs. And a great front line leader will make it their job to empower, provide insight, and coach their team to victory.
While a weak front line leader can be a catastrophic decision that puts your entire revenue team at risk, a strong one brings the team together and keeps energy high. They elevate B players to A players, and give A players a reason to stick around. They also help enforce your sales methodology, putting it into play in a way that drives consistency and results.
It’s not uncommon to want to elevate a high performer to a front line role. But notice if that high performer tends to act more like a lone wolf than a team player. You may have to expose them to successful leaders and teams with different working styles in order to help your potential new leader develop the skills they need. And in the event that your high-performing individual player isn’t a good fit for a front line leadership role, don’t fret. Instead, continue to engage them by giving them new challenges and opportunities to advise and coach other sellers.
With these three qualities in mind, you’ll be able to pick adaptable, energizing front line leaders with the right skills to set your team and company up for success for years to come.
Good sales leaders aren’t born. They’re made. And there’s a lot you can do to mentor and coach the sellers in your ranks so they can rise into leadership positions.
In this blog post, you’ll learn why choosing the right front line leader is so important to the health of your overall revenue team, and why a beginner’s mindset, accountability, and service-oriented leadership are key traits to look for when promoting from within.