The Top Qualities of a Sales Leader

A sales leader is more than just a super salesperson. She is also a great leader, an inspiring person to work with and the management’s representative to the team. Juggling these roles can require some serious hard work

  1. A great sales leader does not undermine the importance of communication: A sales leader is the prime link between senior management and the team. Hence, to communicate effectively is to convey the messages from both sides with equal fervor. Not doing so can result in both sides feeling that you are alienating them. 
  2. Is passionate and committed: you cannot be a leader unless you are passionate about what you do. Passion is the fuel that drives you and eventually every person in your team. Your unwavering commitment to your job is what sets the perfect example for your team.
  3. Is service oriented: Great sales leaders are people who never let changes in the management team, organizational policies or office politics damage the belief that their job is to primarily meet their customers’ needs. Everything else comes later. 
  4. Constantly Coaches: Even if you hire the best reps in the world, leaving them alone to do the job is not the best idea. You need to engage them in regular training and coach them to excel beyond what they have accomplished so far. Leaders challenge the team and constantly educate them to sharpen their existing skills and make them the better than they already are.
  5. Knows how to delegate: The best sales leaders understand that for the team to progress, they’ve got to get maximum participation in accomplishing tasks. One of the best ways to do this is by delegating work to the team. Delegation promotes a feeling of responsibility within the team and is the passage to creating future leaders. 
  6. Promotes technology: An effective leader introduces new and pertinent technology to the team. The use of the latest technology like social media automation or sales automation can empower the average rep to sell more.
  7. Understands the difference between being a leader and a boss: Sales teams need to work together beyond the individual goals of sales rep; a leader is no exception. Instead of dictating, a leader's got to get down and work hand in hand with the team members. This means leading by example. Are you doing what you ask them to do?
  8. Pushes innovation: You cannot be a great leader unless you have an innovative streak . Solving problems in a smart way, creating novel strategies, and devising new growth opportunities for the business are all part of the package. 
  9. Accepts risk: Leaders should be willing to take reasonable risks to progress. Risk taking leaders show their team that it’s okay to take the road less traveled when the rewards are promising. Facing challenges and taking unconventional risks teaches your team to follow instinct and make the decision that they feel needs to be taken at the time. Risk takers also accept that failure is ok. 
  10. Knows the role of compensation and incentives: Great leaders create effective compensation programs and incentivize their reps well. They focus on realistic goals for the team and guide them to achieve and reward them well when they do. They know that an unsatisfactory incentive program can lead to an unhappy sales rep which in turn will create unhappy customers for the company. 
Before getting your team to follow rules and regulations, lead by example. Something as simple as not reporting to work on time can have a deep impact on the rest of your team. Unlike the plain role of a “manager” of yesteryear, today's’ leaders have much more responsibility as they   juggle between roles of leader, sales rep, manager and colleague. Set an example so your reps are motivated to follow you. Train your new hires to follow the culture that you and the existing members created. Effectively train your new and old reps using sales playbooks.

Remember that being a good leader doesn’t mean that you have to give in to keep your team happy all the time. Be assertive when you need to be.

Why sales won't use the collateral made by marketing

At a recent sales-marketing meeting, one of our sales reps pointed out that he chose to create his own sales collateral. On being asked why, he simply said, “ ’Cause I don’t want to use collateral that doesn’t agree with my pitch and the client’s needs. What’s worse, it takes ages to find the right collateral. It’s difficult to find what I'm looking for.” Did we let him create his own collateral after that? As a matter of fact, we did. However, before making this decision, we asked whether all our reps agreed with this observation. After a collective “yes” from the rest of the team, we knew we had to get to the bottom of the issue and do something about it.

This is what we found out

A majority of the sales reps avoid using the collateral provided by marketing The reasons varied from lack of personalization to the irrelevancy of the messaging. While marketing is usually concerned with the overall look and feel of the sales assets, sales teams are generally more concerned about how the content of the brochure appeals to the specific prospect. When they see that the existing collateral doesn’t necessarily meet this requirement, they just brush it aside and go on to create their own sales collateral. When doing this, there is a good chance that the sales rep will go bit too far with the customization and the collateral won't match the rest of your assets. Sales people cannot find collateral That’s right. Your reps cannot find assets when they need them. Usually marketing and sales assets pass through a lot of hands and end up being duplicated. As a result, you have quite a few versions of any given asset. Also, since most people save their assets on individual drives, others may not have access to these assets when required. This can lead to a frustrated sales rep who decides to go ahead and create new ones. Sales assets aren’t adequately customized Sales people expect their assets to be personalized for their prospects at every stage of the buying cycle. Unlike marketing collateral, where customization can be limited to certain elements of the collateral, sales assets go far beyond that.

How to stop it?

For starters, you need to fix these collateral issues by intelligently managing your sales and marketing assets. Get your team to tag the assets with keywords or use meta-tags so that it is easy to find a specific collateral within the system. Describing your sales assets appropriately simplifies the process of searching and saves a lot of time for the finder. Ensure that each piece of marketing or sales collateral is maintained within a central repository with suitable tagging, not on individual drives and hardware. This method is proven to have reduced the possibilities of asset duplication, and avoids errors and un-approved messaging. Though you can do this on Google drive, for example, the difference between saving it on Google drive and in an asset management system is that the latter does more than just save it. In an asset management system, you can create collateral that’s word-based, image-based or a video. Furthermore, once you have used these assets to interact with your prospects, you can track how each of these assets perform and how your prospects responded to each one. This gives you a deeper insight into prospect behavior. And lastly, give sales reps the freedom to customize. They know what their client’s needs are and want their collateral to reflect that. A smart sales enablement system that doubles as an asset manager can let your reps customize without altering your branding standards. Combined, these prospect insight, asset performance and customization features give your reps the much needed freedom to create their own collateral without worrying the marketing team. Also, with a smart system it is much easier to find your collateral when you need it. Implementing these procedures has aligned our sales-marketing teams, enabled sales to operate on their own (thus making them happier) and made the collateral creation procedure less messy and time consuming.
Maybe you should try the same and let us know how it worked for you?


The Middle Road of Sales Enablement

Focusing on your average producers to get the most out of a Sales Enablement deployment  

If you have been taking a look at Sales Enablement for your organization, then you probably know that there is a lot to consider when implementing any technology solution to help your sales team. One very significant implementation issue is the human factor. After all, technology is only ever as good as those who use it. As with any implementation, understanding how to fold new technology into an organization is at least as important as the technology you choose.  Whether you are looking at basic Marketing Automation, or a full-fledged Playbook and Personalization effort, planning is a key component and should be taken very seriously to get the most out of any initiative. This blog article is aimed at helping you understand who on your team should be getting which kind of attention, and making sure that you put your energy in the right place. 

So, let’s talk about what Sales Enablement is for just a second and set the stage for our discussion.  At Mindmatrix, we define sales enablement as any technology that helps to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and results of an organization’s sales and/or marketing efforts.  As an expert in Sales Enablement implementations, I often see customers who think that in order to get the most out of technology, they must roll it out across the board and insist that it be used by everyone. They believe this approach will yield maximum benefits. In short, they take a “one size fits all” implementation strategy. 

While this approach has some merit, it is not always the best way to look at a sales enablement implementation.  

Most organizations don’t stop to think about dividing the members of their sales organization into “performance segments” when considering a sales technology implementation. However, doing this can set better expectations and help you get the full benefits of Sales Enablement. 

Let’s take a look at a few segments of a typical sales team and how we approach these groups during a Sales Enablement Implementation

Group 1.  Your top performers

The reality is that those members of your sales team who are the top performers will undoubtedly get a lot out of sales enablement. But let’s face it, we don’t want to disrupt their flow and cost the organization money. For this group, you probably want to educate them on the technology and then, as much as you can, let them decide how they want to fold the technology into their selling regimen. Let them see the fruits of sales enablement and work with them to make sure that the implementation itself does not slow them down. 

Group 2. Your average performers

This should be the focus of your deployment. These are the people who typically make up the bulk of any sales team. Most importantly, this is the group that normally gets the most out of an implementation and really finds the greatest value in leveraging the technology to increase their efficiency and performance. When you are thinking about your rollout plan, you should have this group in the crosshairs of your implementation goals. Start with this group and work your way out towards the best and the worst.

Group 3. Your worst performers

There will always be a set of worst performers, and it is a mistake to think that sales enablement technology will magically turn them around. While you certainly want to include them in the rollout and give them the attention they deserve, keep your expectations lower for this segment in terms of seeing major results. Take it slow and make sure that you are not only addressing the technology needs but any individual performance shortcomings that need attention.

In addition, you should take care in how you present these ideas so as not to alienate the team. You might want to present it as a pilot that you are rolling out and only include the middle group at first to make sure that morale is not affected. While there is no absolute wrong or right in any implementation strategy, these considerations should help when you are designing your sales enablement rollout. 

In conclusion, there are many benefits to a Sales Enablement implementation. However, you should look at your planning from several angles and consider all the necessary variables before jumping in.