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How to Lead and Inspire Your Sales Team

Written by Silvi Labanca
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Great news: Being here is already a step in the right direction of leading your Sales team (and business) to success.

Spoiler alert: Being a Sales Superstar has (almost) nothing to do with being a Sales Leader.


In this article, we will navigate the intricate terrain of leadership and motivation, unravelling the secrets to leading and inspiring your sales team to unprecedented success.


Distinguishing Salesperson from Sales Leader: The Fundamental Divide


To embark on the path of effective sales leadership, it's imperative to understand the fundamental difference between being a salesperson and a sales leader.


Salesperson: Think of a skilled player on a sports team—a goal scorer, a dynamic performer, someone focused on achieving personal targets and contributing to the team's success. The salesperson excels at closing deals, building client relationships, and hitting individual quotas.


Sales Leader: In contrast, envision the coach of that sports team. The sales leader is responsible for orchestrating the team's success. They nurture the talents of their team, set the strategic direction, and ensure that collective efforts lead to victory.


The challenge arises when an exceptional salesperson assumes their prowess in sales naturally qualifies them as an effective sales leader. It's akin to believing that a star athlete can seamlessly transition into coaching without comprehending the distinct set of skills and responsibilities that leadership entails.


Understanding this distinction is pivotal because it underscores the necessity for a transformation in mindset and skill set when progressing from a salesperson to a sales leader. The focus shifts from individual performance to team success, from personal targets to collective goals, and from selling to guiding and empowering others to sell.


Essential Qualities for Sales Leadership Success


Now that we've explored the essential distinction, let's delve into the essential qualities that pave the path to success as a sales leader.


  1. Effective Listening Skills: In the realm of leadership, the first essential skill is effective listening. It's not merely about articulating your thoughts but also about comprehending the concerns and ideas of your team members. Understanding and empathising are two fundamental actions that must be present at all times when leading.


  1. Observational Prowess: Consider this as the art of observing a grand performance. As a leader, you must actively witness your sales team in action, much like a coach observing a sports match. However, exercise restraint; resist the urge to intervene prematurely. Allow your team to learn and grow independently. In other words, don't push them to the goal: lead the way.


  1. Personalized Connections: Building meaningful connections with your team through weekly one-on-one meetings is akin to conducting an intimate dialogue. These sessions should revolve around the individual, not the collective. Inquire about their objectives, challenges, and sources of motivation. Demonstrating genuine concern will be a powerful motivator.


  1. Leveraging Strengths: Think of this as harnessing the unique talents of your team members. Concentrate on capitalizing on each team member's strengths to maximize their potential. Exceptional leaders invest in their employees' strengths, understanding and allowing diversity and, naturally, increasing engagement.


  1. Providing Constructive Feedback: Leadership entails more than criticism; it involves coaching. Giving feedback is hard. It requires to be handled both professionally and delicately.


The Art of Motivating Your Team: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic


Now, let's focus on the captivating topic of motivating your sales team.


Extrinsic Motivators: Historically, the business world has leaned heavily on extrinsic motivators—financial incentives, bonuses, and rewards—to spur performance. While these can be effective to a degree, they often fall short in engaging and retaining talented salespeople.


Consider this scenario: A salesperson receives a hefty bonus for meeting their quarterly target. They may experience a temporary surge in motivation, but once the bonus is banked, their enthusiasm wanes. Extrinsic motivators tend to be short-lived and do not address the deeper drivers of motivation.


Intrinsic Motivators: These motivators stem from within—an individual's personal gratification and sense of purpose. Intrinsic motivators have gained prominence in recent years as businesses have recognized their power in fostering long-term engagement and performance.


Imagine a salesperson deeply committed to providing their customers with the best product or service, driven by a genuine desire to excel. This sense of purpose transcends financial gain and fuels their dedication. Another example could be a team member who finds joy in mentoring junior salespeople and deriving satisfaction from contributing to their growth.


Generating a sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose is key to unlocking intrinsic motivation. For autonomy, grant your team some control over their work circumstances, allowing them to take ownership of their roles. Mastery comes through continuous learning and skill development, which can be achieved through tailored training and coaching. Purpose can be cultivated by aligning your team's efforts with a higher cause, such as supporting charitable initiatives or community engagement.


The Perfect Blend


In conclusion, the perfect blend of motivation lies in harmonizing intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. While extrinsic rewards have their place, they should complement, not overshadow, the intrinsic drivers of purpose, autonomy, and mastery.


For instance, consider recognizing a team member's exceptional dedication to customer service in a company-wide meeting. This public acknowledgment not only rewards their behavior but also fosters a sense of belonging and purpose.


Another approach is to offer additional time off as a reward for significant accomplishments. This can be a powerful motivator when structured effectively. For instance, granting an extra day of holiday to those who have consistently met their goals or shown exceptional commitment to projects outside their scope can create a positive work-life balance.


Congratulations, you've made it this far and you are now ready to lead, shape and inspire your sales team.

However, it's essential to reiterate the significance of having a detailed sales process—a navigational chart for your journey as a sales leader. At Growth Services, we specialize in building world-class sales processes that drive success. If you're interested in exploring this further, feel free to book a complimentary session with our expert, Chris Goffett. Your journey to leadership excellence begins with a solid foundation; we're here to help you build it.




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