Last week I found myself in a discussion with a sales manager regarding the subject of sales leadership and what does it really entail.
Our discussion centered around the quality of the sales call, but it made me think about it from a different perspective.
Sales leadership is about leading the customer, yet I find too many salespeople think they’re leading because they have a great sales process.
It’s fine to have a process, but leadership means you’re also flexible enough to be able to go where the customer wants to go.
Too many salespeople are so rigid in the questions they ask and the control they want to exhibit with the customer, especially with what we’ll call “key accounts,” that they fail to lead the customer.
Leading the customer does mean dialoguing with the customer, but it means dialoguing to the point you’re able to uncover new insights you and the customer didn’t realize existed.
The measurement of sales leadership is in gaining new insights. It’s not about being able to deliver a great presentation. I’d call delivering a great presentation “basic sales presentation skills.” Sure, delivering a great presentation is a component of leadership, but it will fail miserably if it doesn’t allow the two of you to discuss at a deeper level key questions and ideas.
If you’re a sales manager reading this, ask your sales team members if they believe they are leading their customers. If they can’t provide you with at least one example as to how they, in combination with the customer, were able to uncover at least one new insight, then I’d argue they’re not leading.
True sales leadership in my book is defined as first developing new insights with the customer and second, turning these new insights into opportunities from which both you and the customer can benefit.
Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.