Competencies Sales Leaders Must Master – Part Two

by | Jul 6, 2022 | Sales Coaching

In my new book “The Relationship Selling Secret”, I address twelve competencies every sales leader should develop. I’d like to address the second set of three in this newsletter and in the following months we will address the others.

Great sales leaders should coach their salespeople on a regular basis. This is one of the top competencies they must master.

A coaching moment can be as short as two minutes. Good coaches listen, then offer their own experience for use in that specific situation. I truly believe that seasoned leaders and salespeople have learned from their mistakes and want to avoid repeating them in the future.

In many sales trainings I’ve delivered, I’ve noticed that the sessions with the most impact are those that are reinforced by their sales leader. Years ago, my company delivered a successful SPIN training. The success of the training was because the leaders had already bought in by spending two days with SPIN before the sellers arrived. When the leader gives their support, the new skills will more likely be integrated as that is their expectation.

Let me address three more competencies or skills sales leaders must have to successfully lead and develop their teams.

1. Empathy

Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of the other person. It’s understanding and relating to what they are going through. It’s not that you always agree with their circumstances, but you can help them with many of the challenges they’re going through. And empathy is also an important competency that sellers should display with their prospects and clients.

Most sales leaders have come up through the ranks of the sales force and understand the challenges salespeople have. Building a pipeline and being accurate, having the ability to negotiate terms and conditions with customers, and sometimes negotiating internally to get the customer what they need. A strong sales leader understands what struggles their salespeople can have. They need to be aware of their obstacles, struggles and barriers to success and help alleviate those they can.

Data shows that sellers don’t quit companies, they quit their sales leaders. I’ve experienced it before. There is nothing worse than working for a poor leader that doesn’t relate to their salespeople, their issues, and their concerns.

2. Decision-making

Let’s face it, your ability to make good decisions grows with experience. When do you approve a discount? Is the customer serious about moving forward? Is it worth the time to develop a proposal? It might cost thousands to produce; you’re bidding against five competitors; and the customer isn’t taking individual meetings? You must consider the chances of success.

Leaders are making many decisions everyday about the chance of a sale closing, and which ones may never close. It’s one of their biggest responsibilities and comes with risk. Rarely are they dealing in absolutes, rather always some shade of grey. Yet their boss needs those monthly/quarterly projections, and they expect them to be reliable.

Sales managers have to discern and interpret the team’s pipeline and its accuracy. Where are the salespeople spending their time and are they focused on developing the right opportunities that can close? This is where the insight and experience of a good sales leader comes in. When a sales leader is decisive it helps the salespeople gain confidence – in their company, their job, and the solution they’re offering.

3. Strong emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) has been a major focus over the past several years. EQ is the ability to recognize and regulate the emotions in ourselves and others. It’s the ability to relate to others and understand their point of view. It’s having self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, and then managing them.

Every salesperson needs the opportunity to open up and share what’s going on with them. Their day-to-day challenges can sometimes be overwhelming as they are under constant scrutiny. They’re measured against a quota and their performance is always apparent to everyone on the team.

During coaching, they can share their struggles and celebrate their wins, so they can do more of that. Good sales leaders make this happen – they give the coaching that’s needed.

As we look at these three sales leadership competencies of empathy, decision-making, and strong emotional intelligence, we need to talk about how each of the four personalities measure up in these areas. This is from my new book The Relationship Selling Secret.

Empathy comes most naturally to the Blue Leader, known as the Relator. They put relationships first. Oranges also are strong on relationships, being more social. Golds are more formal and Greens usually more serious.

Decisiveness is more predominant in the Golds and Oranges personalities – both being quicker on decisions since they are what we call concrete thinkers. One reason for this is that Oranges and Golds are less patient than the Blues and Greens. Greens are cautious since they want to make the right decision and Blues want to make sure the team buys in since they want consensus.

Emotional intelligence is about being aware of your personality style. Each style needs to adjust accordingly. Blues as the Relator can have issues with conflict. Golds as Directors might have an issue with flexibility, Greens being the Detective can become perfectionists, and the Orange being the Activator might rush to a decision they might later regret.

Sales leaders need to assess their own skills before they coach, and many will engage a coach for themselves. Consider what skills do their people have and where can they improve, then assessing if they have those needed skills. A successful leader is the combination of the success of their team. Here’s to strong sales leaders and their coaching.

Good selling!

©2022 Stu Schlackman