Over 25 years of working with sales organizations of all sizes, I have discovered the SEVEN  best practices sales leaders consistently do better than their counterparts:

These are the 7 critical characteristics that top sales leaders share:

~They are rigorous in their Hiring decisions: Realizing the incredible cost of a poor hire and the incredible gain of top performers, they act as if hiring right is the most important thing they do… and they are right.  Their counterparts are reactive, wait until they are desperate, rushing thru the selection process and selecting people who lack the essential characteristics successful people share.   They then suffer through underperformance over the ensuing 5-10 years (or more).

~They have set very clear performance metrics and goals.  Great sales leaders insure each sales person knows precisely what they must do to succeed each and every day.  Unlike their counterparts who feel a sales person should know how to sell and therefore they offer vague objectives quotas and metrics. Effective leaders focus on those activities that pre-determine the sale, knowing that activity always determines the end sale.

~They embrace Customer Relationship Management (CRM) I am referring not only to the tool, but moreover the concept itself.  They appreciate their customers and nurture them throughout their life cycle, which is generally considerably longer than their counterparts.  They have implemented an efficient CRM program and their sales team appreciates the essential value of CRM and they use it religiously.

~They are authentic, fierce coaches.  Unlike their counterparts, great leaders do not look at coaching as an adjunct part of their job. Rather they view coaching as THE JOB. They help their people debrief their calls, manage to their metrics and get un-stuck in developing accounts and territories. They provide timely and constructive feedback.  A great coach is always seeking to create growth through accountability.

~They have clearly defined the company’s sales process.  Each step of the sales process (usually between 6 and 9 steps) is clearly defined. There is a common nomenclature for each step along with a close probability dependent upon the sales stage. Each sales member owns the sales process COLD, providing a clear path through the sales process. Consequently forecasting and sales results are predictable.

They have a clear focus and strategy tied to marketing.  They manage to a written strategic plan, AND guide each of their reps to manage to a clearly articulated territory plan. They know what a best fit client looks like and do not waste time on lesser opportunities.

~ They understand the numbers (theirs and their reps) they know the numbers that drive their business and hold themselves and their people to those numbers.  Although their personal numbers vary based on their skills, each of their reps knows precisely what they personally must accomplish each day to win.  Reps operate in a clear and purposeful way, maximizing time and results.

Consider your team and how well you comply with these seven Best practices.  For more perspectives on leadership, read our whitepaper on Leadership- Art form or Science

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