Are You A Visionary Sales Leader
Are You A Visionary Sales Leader
In a world where the majority of people have become salespeople, it takes more than a title to be a sales leader, especially a visionary one.
And no, multiple years of experience selling does not cut it. Neither does marshalling the operations of a sales team.
Visionary sales leaders stand out, not only by what they do but also how they do it and why. Visionary leadership combines the two skills of seeing the potential for change with the ability to lead others to cause that change. Visionary leaders share the following traits:
They operate on a pull strategy rather than a push one. For instance, rather than push their product down their potential client’s throat, they pull them to buy it by inspiring a vision of how it could improve their life.
They also pull the best out of their team members by communicating the why of what they’re selling rather than its what only. For example, a visionary leader would explain to their team why they should be hitting their sales targets, and would also ensure that outcomes are tied to intrinsic motivation. By contrast, a typical sales manager would most likely use extrinsic methods of motivation, enforcing and reinforcing the carrot-and-stick approach.
They neither bark down commands nor micromanage. Instead, they know how to properly delegate. As a leader, your job is to set expectations and empower your team with the skills and knowledge they need to do their job well. Then you must give them autonomy and get out of their way. More importantly, every employee needs to feel like they’re part of the bigger vision, regardless of their position.
The best way I’ve witnessed that was in a company that made its sales target visible at the front office, and even the receptionist could explain to a visitor what that target’s achievement meant to the company. This made sure that everyone understood the value the company provided, and could potentially go out, and bring in more clients.
They know that selling is about building valuable, meaningful and trusted long-term relationships rather than short-term transactional ones. Imagine coming to the realization that you don’t have the capacity to deliver to a client according to their specifications, and referring them to a competitor with the capacity. The client would appreciate that you made a decision that was good for them even if it jeopardizes your position in the short-term.
Building relationships with their sales team is also important, as they nurture the relationship over a long period of time through continuous training and mentoring, leading to team chemistry and loyalty. This is in contrast with continuously recruiting market champions who come with great experience and contacts, but ask for a very high salary scale and are in many cases, less loyal.
Their mantra is ‘Value, value, value.’ They build sales strategies based on the exchange of value with clients. They also live coherently with personal values such as integrity and honesty.
They listen, patiently, to everyone. They listen to their team to understand the challenges they’re facing, and rather than criticize, they opt to give constructive feedback on their work. They also listen to their clients to get feedback on what they’re selling. They listen to the market to see where it’s going and if they need to pivot their product or service, or reframe the message they use to sell it.
They drop their ego, and let others shine. They don’t try to take credit for everyone’s work. They also keep track of their team’s progress, and hold them accountable to their goals, by keeping the lines of communication open.
This also means giving their team enough freedom to make mistakes, without fearing repercussions. This is done by building a culture where failing forward is allowed, and mistakes are dissected and distilled openly to understand the lessons learnt.
Last but not all, they tolerate risks because visionary leadership is about change…changing lives, changing sales metrics, changing the business, and change is never risk-free.
So how many of your traits describe you?
Leave your comments below.
Co-written with Amina Islam