Are you new to Sales Leadership? Have you recently moved from sales peer to being promoted to a sales leader, and wondering what has hit you? If the answer is ‘yes’ you are not alone! After 7 years working side by side a very successful and competitive group of sales people, I was fortunate enough to be promoted to Sales Leader. My Sales General Manager took a great leap of faith in appointing me, as I was untried and untested, however, what I did have, was confidence & belief – I had been working towards and preparing myself for this role for nearly 2 years, and I was ready for the challenge.
Even though I had developed a strong reputation within the business, I knew that my team was going to test me, and to compound it even further, my original sales mentor was in my sales team. As it turned out though, he was one of my biggest supporters and became a huge advocate for me within the business. If you are new to sales leadership & have moved from a peer to a leader, here are some principles that helped me through the transition – I hope they help you too :
- Find a model to emulate. Going it alone can be really tough, and whilst you may think you are well prepared, often you do not realise how lonely sales leadership can be until you are in the role. It is critical that you find someone you can trust, to soundboard off and to seek guidance from. Find that special someone for you and model exactly what they do and say. It will fast track your sales leadership development.
- Be very clear on what you stand for. In preparing for the sales leadership role, I spent considerable time developing my leadership philosophy and my core set of leadership values. This enabled me to be very clear on why I wanted to be a leader, and what I stood for. Ask yourself the same question – ‘why do you want to become a leader?”. This will provide you with a very strong platform when you assume the leadership role.
- Be prepared to be challenged. From day 1 of becoming a sales leader, my team tested me constantly, and would look to me to solve their challenges and their issues. And early on, I wanted to create a great impression and be the person who could solve some of the bigger challenges, so I did my best to solve as much as I could. This became very tiring, and thanks to my mentor (see first point above), I implemented a different strategy where I would question (and sometimes interrogate!!) my team to gain an understanding of the root cause of the challenge, and then help them brainstorm ideas to solve the challenge. This very quickly conditioned the team to come to me with more in depth analysis of their challenges, not just expecting me to solve them!
- Build relationships. Leadership is all about influence, and to be able to effectively influence others, it is critical to build trust and respect. The best way to do that is through building relationships with your people. Be proactive with your team, focus your attention on them and how you can serve them, and look for early wins to build on.
- Create a team vision or team charter. Similar to you identifying what you stand for and what your leadership values are, run a similar exercise with the team and create a team vision of what the team stands for. Lead from the front and create an environment that will encourage the team to be successful – a team vision or charter is a fantastic start.
- Be confident and above all, back yourself. Understand that you have been promoted into the sales leadership role because others believe you are ready. Does it mean that you have to have all of the answers from day 1? No. Will you be challenged and will you get some things wrong? Absolutely. The key here though is to back yourself, take risks, and be confident that you will be able to handle what ever is thrown at you. Facing the challenges and moving forward builds resilience and delivers wonderful experience. Embrace it.
Even though I prepared myself for the role of Sales Leader, nothing compared to the actual experience of performing the role when I was given the opportunity. I was constantly tested, and within the first 90 days even asked myself whether sales leadership was for me. However, with the help of my mentor, and the application of the principles above, I was able to develop my sales leadership capability and build a successful team. I trust that with the principles outlined above, you will be able to do the same.
To your leadership success!!
Are you seeking to increase your influence and make FY16 your Sales Leadership Year? Click this link to download a FREE copy of my eBook “Lead With Influence – The 7 Strategic Keys to Unleash Your Sales Leadership Potential”.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post – I greatly appreciate it, and welcome comments and feedback. Please feel free to comment below, to follow me on LinkedIn, or to connect via Twitter or Facebook.
About : Darren is an Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant, Trainer, Facilitator, Speaker. A passionate and driven individual specialising in personal development, strategic planning, coaching for advocacy & enhanced performance, situational and servant based leadership, executive coaching of people leaders, emerging leaders and ‘high potential’ individual contributors within the Enterprise & Government market, personal change management, and strategic workshop facilitation & training.