Seven Things All Good Sales Leaders Must Do

By Jim Cathcart

People love to follow leaders who know where they are going and who care about their followers. Even those who consider themselves to be leaders are usually willing to follow others who seem focused and collaborative. What they don’t like is to be led by someone who is neither clear on their destination nor open to input from others.

If you’re a sales leader seeking increased sales, the strange truth is that it won’t be achieved by seeking more sales. At least not in the usual way. When people sell more it is rarely because they are urged to sell more – or threatened if they don’t.

Selling requires positive energy: optimism, hope, eagerness, and open-mindedness. People buy to make things better – either to remove a problem or attain a desired result. If the salesperson doesn’t represent some form of increased happiness then people don’t buy.

So what’s a sales leader to do? Here are seven things you must provide if you want more sales.

  1. Target
  2. Tools
  3. Training
  4. Time
  5. Truth
  6. Touch
  7. Trust

All people like new and exciting destinations. Some say that people resist change. That’s not true. People resist unpleasant change – but try announcing that we’re all going to Disneyland and suddenly everyone’s on board. It is your job as the leader to get people enthused about what you want from and for them. Paint pictures, tell stories, give examples…show them the outcome. Once a desirable Target is clear, action will follow. Remember: motivation is “motive” plus “action.” The Target is the motive – make it appealing.

If your target is the top of a sheer cliff, you’d better be looking for a ladder. Because, until people see it’s possible, they won’t take action. That is why Tools are necessary in your planning. The Tools might be information, updates, reports, or insider information, or they might be sales tools that make it easier for them to tell your story. The right Tools will make your salespeople more effective.

Imagine having the world’s best software for selling but you don’t know how to use it yet? Tools aren’t enough; there must be Training in how to use the tools with confidence.

That brings us to Time: if there’s not enough Time allowed for the Training to sink in and become a new skill, then the Tools won’t be able to serve you yet.

People thrive in an atmosphere of Truth. When they know what is true and what is not, decision making is easier. It’s the leader’s job to create an atmosphere where the Truth is always welcomed – even when it’s bad news. As Bill Gates said in his book Business at the Speed of Thought, “Bad news must travel fast.” The sooner we know what is so, the sooner we can take the appropriate action. The longer it is delayed, the fewer good options remain.

Touch means the human touch. If all that people get is bad news, they will start avoiding news updates. We need to provide the caring “touch” that shows we believe in their potential and we respect them as human beings. Without the personal assurance that your leader cares about you there is little motivation to exert initiative. As Zig Ziglar said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Which brings us to Trust. It’s foolish to trust untrained people to do highly skilled work, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t to be trusted at all. Trust follows ability and intent. Train your people in the skills that matter. Increase the Trust you give them at each new skill level; then train their thinking to assure that they are seeking to help people with every sale. When you build a team of helpers who are seeking to serve others at a profit, you are building a powerful sales force.

Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, is the original author of Relationship Selling and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. Jim is a regular contributor to Selling Power and a certified Mindset Trainer. Contact Jim at Cathcart.com.

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