If you’re responsible for the sales team in your organization I hope you understand the difference between managing your sales team and leading them. I also hope you’re doing both.
But it’s very likely you’re only doing one of them and that the one you’re doing is managing.
That’s because somewhere in the neighborhood of 99% of Sales Managers were promoted to Sales Manager because they were excellent salespeople. When they were promoted they were told to manage the sales team. No one ever said a word about leading them.
Most Sales Managers manage their sales teams the same way they were managed. If their manager happened to also be a leader then they may do some leading. But for the most part Sales Managers just manage and don’t even realize they aren’t leading.
Solid sales management is essential for a steady consistent growth in sales. But the only path to explosive sales growth is leadership. I have seen company after company invest millions of dollars over years and years to develop their sales team. All while spending virtually nothing, or actually nothing, to develop their sales leaders.
I guess that’s not surprising considering somewhere between 70-80% of people in leadership positions have less than 1 hour of formal leadership training during their careers. That’s less than 1 hour, as in 60 minutes. It’s like buying one car after another without an engine and wondering why none of them get you anywhere.
Some organizations have managers who can’t lead and some have leaders who can’t manage. So long as an organization has both they can do just fine. But the most successful organizations have managers who can lead and leaders who can manage. They understand the difference between the two and move seamlessly back and forth.
But for a person in a Sales Management role to be effective they MUST be both manager and leader.
As a Sales Manager they define territories, they set quotas, they hold people accountable, (as do Sales Leaders) they analyze numbers and help put deals together. They manage the “stuff” that goes into selling.
A Sales Leader is focused on the people who sell and frequently on the people who buy. They are the motivator that salespeople need. They are the coaches they wish they had when they were actively selling. They teach, they listen, and most of all they show they care about the people on the front lines of selling. Their salespeople. They lead the people in selling.
To any company looking to train their salespeople I would say it’s one of the best investments you can make in your organization. But I’d also say don’t forget your sales leaders. Investing in real leadership training for your sales leaders is a force multiplier that pays dividends year after year.
Or you can sit in your bright shiny new engineless car and wonder what’s over that next horizon.