Most sales leaders I know didn’t go into sales leadership because they demonstrated a specific skill or because they expressed an interest.  Very simply put they were good salespeople so someone promoted them to a leadership position without giving them the necessary tools, professional development opportunities and/or management training to be successful in the short term. Here are the 5 keys to sales leadership based upon my 40+ years in sales and sales leadership as well as best practices of other, successful sales leaders:

  1. Recruit, hire, train and retain the best talent available
    • Don’t settle for the best of the worst
    • Always have an active hiring pipeline in place
  2. Be clear and consistent in your communication
    • 90% of management problems are people problems
    • 90% of people problems are communication problems
  3. Set clear goals/expectations
    • Inspect what you expect
  4. Know your numbers
    • Sales metrics, sales management KPIs, success formulas, etc.
  5. Assess the readiness level of team members
    • Dehire people who aren’t performing

Let’s take a deeper dive on key #1; recruit, hire, train and retain the best talent available:

  • Ask behavioral interview questions during the interview process
    • How did you prepare for this interview?
    • Describe your job search process?
    • If I were to offer you the job today what would you do hit the ground running?
    • How do you qualify/disqualify opportunities?
  • Behavioral interviewing helps eliminate misunderstandings during the interview and reduces the candidate’s ability to mislead.
    • The fact remains that a candidate’s past and present behavior is the best predictor of how he or she will behave in the future.
    • Behavioral traits don’t appear on a resume… you can only learn them from interviewing the candidate.
  • Establish a 30 to 45-day on boarding process to shorten the salesperson’s ramp time to productivity
  • Set clear goals/activity levels
    • Meets minimum, on target and overachievement
  • Know what motivates your salespeople so you’re able to create the right environment for the individual salesperson as well as the entire sales team
  • Celebrate successes early and often!

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