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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

9 Sales Leadership Qualities to Look for in Top Performers

9 Sales Leadership Qualities to Look for in Top Performers

Recruiting top-performing sales leadership for your organization is harder than ever. The quality of the sales organization is directly associated with the quality of sales leadership.

When looking for top-performing sales leaders, you can’t just look for great salespeople. You need someone who can coach, go in the field, watch, and understand the sales process. Here are nine qualities to consider when you’re evaluating sales management talent. 

Sales Leader Qualities

When recruiting and hiring sales leaders, there needs to be a balance between strategic and tactical qualities. Some leaders are good at talking vision, but not rolling up their sleeves, and vice versa. The best leaders know how to build and articulate a framework around how they want a team to perform, while also not being afraid to get in the field to make it happen.

Sales Leadership: Are You a Boss or a Leader?

1. Standing

One of the most important qualities of a sales leader is the ability to practice what you preach. Today’s sales leaders are consumed with finding ways to make the business better, developing people, and showing their teams how they can win. It’s easy to talk about respect and trust, but it’s much harder to earn them.  

 2. Empathy

Sales leaders are understanding and take time to empathize with the unique circumstances of each team member. Knowing your team and concerning yourself with their success means managing each of them differently and helping them overcome obstacles as they come. You must listen, but then you have to take action. If you don’t act, your team notices. 

3. Knows Numbers

If your sales reps aren’t being measured on their performance on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis, then you’re missing valuable coaching opportunities and losing revenue. As a leader, the ability to get the best out of people and have a strong mastery of pricing, inventory, and forecasting is hard to find.

The best sales leaders have their finger on the pulse of their teams and can feel how much money the market wants to give them. They also know how to direct it early enough in the process to make a difference in the final result.  

4. Concentration and Focus

Top performers in sales management have a growth mindset and know how to crowd out distractions to keep their team dialed in to the structure they have established. Many times they have to battle internally to reduce distractions, but they always find a way to turn the attention of their people towards the main goal at hand.

5. Emotional IQ

Emotional intelligence is important for salespeople but critical for sales managers. Everyone in sales must deal with potentially heated situations, overcoming objections, and handling disputes. Emotional intelligence vital in both situations because it’s how a leader knows when to support, encourage, console, motivate, or reign in on the team to optimize performance.

6. Ability to Motivate

Every sales manager, leader, and coach have their own styles and methods for motivation, and the right leadership approach boils down to what works best for you and your team. An effective sales manager proudly gives credit to their team at every opportunity and consistently owns it when they fail. Whether the failure is external or internal, they own both. 

7. Change Management

Today’s top-performing sales managers are agents of change. They not only tolerate the continual disruption of doing business the way it’s always been but embracing change to help improve performance.   

8.  Knows Their Team

Effective sales leaders know the talents and the weaknesses of the people on their team. Then, they develop the top talents and create work-around for their weaknesses. These leaders get far more results from letting their people focus on what they are naturally great at versus trying to change them into something they aren’t. 

9.  Hate to Lose

Any top-performing sales leader hates to lose, and it burns them inside when they do. They go to bed at night, determining how to stop it from ever happening again. Poor performers often blame failure on a list of excuses that leave people feeling like they have no control or influence over their problems. 

Sales Coaching for Sales Leaders

Finding the right kind of talent for sales leadership is about looking for these nine qualities, but also finding that little something extra. Leaders who embody these qualities are more inclined to be effective and remain relevant as the organization keeps evolving.

Sales coaching helps sales leaders equip their teams to reach their maximum potential and gives them the tools and knowledge to make better decisions in their sales process, which leads to overall improved sales performance for themselves, the team, and the organization.

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*Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in 2019 and has since been updated.


Topics: hiring salespeople leadership