When you move from sales producer to sales leader, you must learn new skills in order to lead and develop your sales team. Some of those skills are hiring and selection, coaching and performance feedback. While you need to learn new skills to be a successful leader, don’t forget to apply the selling skills that helped you achieve success and get promoted. They can help you create winning sales teams.
Take a look at five selling skills that will help you be a more effective sales leader.
#1: Prospecting skills. Good salespeople share a common theme for success — their ability to consistently prospect for new business. This happens because top sales producers block time on their calendars for business development. Top performers have mastered the emotional intelligence skill of delayed gratification. They put in the work of business development day in and day out to earn the reward of a full sales pipeline.
This structure and discipline prevents empty sales pipelines and desperate sales meetings. “Please buy from me — there is no other prospect in sight.”
Prospecting skills are equally important for sales managers, except their focus changes to sourcing and uncovering top sales talent, rather than sourcing top prospects. Delayed gratification is important because it’s easy for sales managers to give in to the pull of instant gratification and fire-fighting. Weeks go by with little or no prospecting for new sales hires. The people pipeline dwindles and when a territory opens up, you are in desperation mode.
Effective sales managers block out time to identify, pursue and interview prospects or potential salespeople. They are consistent in their prospecting, even when their people pipeline if full. They know that full pipelines prevent desperation hiring and, ultimately, firing.
#2: Qualifying Opportunities. Good salespeople are great at qualifying or disqualifying opportunities. They learn consultative selling skills to uncover the prospect’s need or want. When a prospect shares a need, the savvy salesperson doesn’t immediately buy the buying signal. They avoid solution dumping and ask more questions to determine if the prospect is committed to solving a problem or achieving a goal.
Sales managers also need good qualifying skills when interviewing potential hires. Instead of focusing on uncovering a need, the effective sales manager focuses on figuring out whether this candidate possesses what he or she needs.
For example, a potential candidate says they are a team player and great at closing big deals. Just like a good salesperson, the sales manager doesn’t buy the buying signal. They apply qualifying skills and behavior-based interviewing skills to look for proof of the stated attribute.
#3: Interpersonal Skills: Top salespeople know how to build lasting relationships with prospects and clients. They don’t exhibit won-and-done behavior. They take time to understand what motivates each client in order to provide excellent, customized service.
When meeting with clients, the excellent salesperson is fully present. They are not thinking about their prior or upcoming meetings. They have mastered FOMA: fear of missing out.
Great sales managers know how to build great relationships with their clients — the sales team. They don’t try to mass manage the team or use a one-size-fits-all coaching approach. They invest time to understand and learn each salesperson’s strengths, weaknesses, motivators and desires.
They also have mastered FOMA, and are fully present and focused when meeting with team members. They aren’t checking voicemail, email or any other electronic gadget. Great sales managers treat their sales team like they treat their best customer.
#4: Alignment of values Good salespeople work with clients that are aligned with their core values. These clients approach business from a win-win perspective, treating vendors as partners, not vendors. They are honest in their business conversations and dealings.
Sales managers that build really great sales cultures hire salespeople that align with their core values. A win-win salesperson understands the balance between profit and achieving revenue goals. They don’t pursue business that isn’t profitable for the company. An honest salesperson raises their hand when they make a mistake. They get to the truth fast and learn from their failures.
#5: Psychologist. Really good salespeople are similar to good psychologists. A psychologist recognizes the presenting problem often is not the real problem. They take time to listen to the patient (prospect), gather information and prescribe only when they feel they have the right solution or medicine. If they can’t solve the problem, they refer the patient (prospect) to another specialist.
Sales managers invest time to understand their patients, the sales team. When a salesperson is falling short of expectations, they don’t jump to conclusions. They listen and analyze to figure out the root cause of a performance issue.
Is the salesperson failing because she doesn’t know what to do or is lack of confidence the root cause of poor performance? Is the sales pipeline empty due to lack of work ethic or lack of skills?
There isn’t one solution for all customers. There isn’t one solution for improving a salesperson’s performance.
Review the skills that made you a top salesperson and apply them as a sales manager. Don’t throw away skills you’ve honed for years. Instead, learn how to use them as a sales leader.