5 Skills All Successful Sales Leaders Share


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What does it take to become a great sales leader? Sure, it takes hard work, experience, and the right timing. But there’s more to it than that.

There’s a required skillset, not unique to sales specifically, but widely found in the values and work ethic among sales leaders everywhere.

One such sales leader is Salesloft’s own Ollie Sharpe, VP of Revenue in EMEA, who recently spoke on the subject at SaaSGrowth 2021. Check out the video below for some of Ollie’s best tips:

You can also discover how the following five skills – common traits of many sales leaders – go a long way to building highly functioning teams and creating a culture of success. Let’s break them down.

Successful sales leaders:

1. Spot and Develop Talent

Recruiting will define you — whether you’re a great recruiter or a lousy one. To build the best team, you need to first attract and win the best talent. 

  • Start by prioritizing your employer’s brand — a veritable shop window into who you are and what you do. Once defined, you can use the interview process to sell the job opportunity. Top talent is probably talking to other companies, so it’s essential to position the role as the clear choice.
  • Be specific. Consider what they’ll be selling, who they’ll be selling to, the style of selling they’ll be doing, and the sales tools they’ll be using. And don’t forget expected metrics like average deal size, quotas, and the sales cycle.  A formulaic approach means you know exactly what you want and which candidate would be the best fit.
  • Concentrate on the characteristics and behaviors that make people successful. During the interview process, gauge candidates’ coachability through roleplay. Look for their adaptability, curiosity, and persistence, as well as their past successes.
  • Identify a candidate’s superpower at the interview stage and look at culture “add,” not just culture fit. Align on values, but also visualize what candidates bring to the team that you don’t currently have.

2. Empower Your Team To Find Solutions

The best leaders remove barriers to help others come up with the answers themselves. But oftentimes, people don’t even know where to start, especially when it comes to prioritization.

Create a structure that your team can use to set priorities and coach them on how to use that structure. It doesn’t have to be overly formal. For example, here’s an example of what a structure could look like to guide thinking: If there’s a high likelihood of success and a high size of prize, then do it. If there’s a low likelihood of success and low size of prize, then skip it. And if big bets are a gamble, small wins should be best bets. Map out importance versus urgency to prioritize accounts, opportunities, and projects.

 By creating structure, you can help reps build resilience and their own problem-solving skills.

3. Be Mindful

Mindful leadership is present leadership, and it can help you attract, hire, and retain the best talent, inspire your team, and improve overall happiness. 

 It’s essential to lead with calmness and composure, especially in difficult situations. By leading with equanimity, you develop resilience within your team. People feel like they can be more open with you instead of hiding bad news.

 Mindful leadership requires knowing the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and others. Your team shouldn’t have to be carbon copies of you. Their individual skillsets should, instead, complement and strengthen both your abilities and the team’s, collectively.

Start by demonstrating vulnerability and compassion. Ask for feedback from others, move processes out into the open, and share things about yourself that others don’t know. The easier it is for employees to see you as trustworthy, the easier it will be for the organization to thrive.

4. Inspire Others

Leaders who inspire make others feel heard, empowered, and supported. They bring teams along and help people see what’s in it for them.

Leaders who inspire also help teams discover their own purpose, help position that purpose top of mind, and keep the “whats” and “whys” of their work connected to the overall mission of the organization.

5. Be a Role Model

Leaders’ actions are influential in creating and driving the culture a business wants (or doesn’t want). Model the values and work ethic you expect of your team. Make sure you understand how your actions impact those around you, which, in turn, affects the culture you’re building.

There is perhaps no other professional quality more emphasized or pontificated about than leadership. And while there is a vast array of styles, the five skills discussed above are characteristic of the most successful sales VPs.