Best-in-class sales leaders are blurring the lines between professional and personal. As a result, they are outperforming sales bosses on a revenue-per-head basis by double digits. In a most recent Gallup study, engaged employees produce on average 20% more higher sales than those that are not.
Sales Bosses are representative of Sales 1.0: hire, train and manage to a quota. Fair exchange of money for work done.
Sales Leaders are representative of Sales 2.0: engage the salesperson through personal connection and professional job satisfaction. Adapt one’s leadership style for the individual and treat them the way they need to be treated to harness their unique capabilities.
Great salespeople are competitive and emotional; it is what makes them great.
- Logical management tactics (activity standards, closing ratios, pipeline) are no longer sufficient.
- Emotional management strategies (personal connection, tailored coaching, qualitative measures) take precedence.
Like buyers, salespeople have access to more information. A bad day or bad week can now result in a real-time search for other options on LinkedIn or Facebook. Winners want to win; when they don’t feel they are winning internally and externally they will look for a venue that can provide this.
Here are 4 trends from CSOs that are leading the way in this transformation.
1. Risk Taking –
- A Sales Boss says: “We have never done that before; let’s stick with what has worked.”
- A Sales Leader says: “Fail forward and take calculated risks to achieve the objective.
Promote a culture that celebrates failure. If people are not seeking failure by trying new things, your organization is not optimized. You are playing not to lose vs. playing to win.
2. Creativity –
- A Sales Boss says: “Just follow the playbook and you will be successful.”
- A Sales Leader says: “Push back and generate new ideas to serve the customers.”
Teresa Amabile’s work at Harvard has continued to emphasize creative opportunity as a key lever in employee engagement.
3. New Capability Acquisition –
- A Sales Boss says: “Come to work, make your number, get paid and be happy.”
- A Sales Leader says: “New capability acquisition is the best predictor of future income”.
And so the coach goes, the team goes. The best sales leaders we see are educating and investing in themselves. Leaders are teachers and teachers need constant education. You will never have an ‘A’ player leave and say “you over-invested in me and taught me too much”.
4. Progress –
- A Sales Boss says: “If you make your number, you are doing a good job.”
- A Sales Leader says: “Quota is a lagging indicator and the number one leading indicator is daily progress.”
Most salespeople spend at least 65% of their day working. Nobody wants to run in place for more than half of their day. If people are making incremental progress they feel rewarded. This translates into feeling good about oneself and staying engaged over long periods of time.
Call To Action
Start your next sales meeting or employee 1-on-1 and ask your team how often they feel about the four points above. Don’t censor the conversation. It might feel counterintuitive to do this; which is exactly why you should. It starts with you. Good luck!