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January 10, 2024

It’s the People, Stupid: Building Excellence in Sales Leadership

Colleen Stanley and Steven Rosen from the Sales Leadership Awakening podcast discuss how building excellence in sales leadership starts with having the right team. Sales leaders must be willing to make tough decisions about non-performers and proactively recruit top talent. Developing the necessary soft skills, such as coachability and resiliency, is crucial for success in a fast-changing sales environment. Evaluating the skills needed for future success and providing ongoing coaching and training are essential for building a high-performing sales team. By taking action and focusing on the people, sales leaders can set their teams up for a blockbuster sales year.

“The world is moving faster. And so if you’re not developing your team’s resiliency skills, you’re going to fall behind.” – Colleen Stanley

“The closer we are to people, the harder it is to make those tough calls on non-performers.” – Steven Rosen

As the sales landscape evolves, sales leaders must adapt and ensure their teams have the skills and mindset needed to succeed. By staying proactive, continuously learning, and embracing change, sales leaders can navigate the challenges of the future and drive excellence in their organizations.

The interactive podbook below contains videos, audio, articles, summaries, transcripts, and YouTube shorts from this podcast episode.

Full Episode Article

Welcome to the Sales Leadership Awakening Podcast, where we tackle the challenge of bridging the knowing and doing gap in sales leadership. In this article, we focus on building excellence and how to have a blockbuster sales year. One of the key factors in achieving this is having the right team. However, many sales leaders struggle with evaluating their teams and making tough decisions about non-performers. We also explore why sales leaders hang on to non-performers, the essential skills that sales teams should cultivate, and the ideal time to reassign or let go of underperforming team members.

Hanging on to Non-Performers

One common mistake sales leaders make is hanging on to non-performers for too long for various reasons, such as a personal relationship with the individual or a sense of responsibility for their lack of performance. 

However, as Steven Rosen points out, the longer you wait with non-performers, the more you do a disservice to yourself and your team. He suggests that the beginning of the year is ideal for assessing your team and making tough decisions about non-performers.

The Soft Skills for Success

When evaluating your sales team, it is important to consider the soft skills that should be cultivated to ensure a blockbuster sales year. Colleen Stanley highlights the importance of coachability and resiliency. Coachability refers to the ability to embrace feedback and continuously improve. Resiliency involves having an internal locus of control and focusing on what can be controlled rather than complaining about external factors. These soft skills are crucial for success in a fast-changing sales environment.

The Ideal Time for Change

Determining the ideal time to reassign or let go of non-performers can be challenging. However, Colleen and Steven agree that the longer you wait, the more it will hurt your team and the business. While any time is a good time to assess your team, addressing non-performance as soon as possible is important. Waiting too long can perpetuate a situation and hinder the growth of your team and organization.

Legacy Reps and New Markets

Legacy reps, who have been with the company for a long time and manage a large business book, present a unique challenge. While they may not be coachable or interested in personal development, they may still be valuable in maintaining existing business. However, it is crucial to ensure they are not neglected and their skills are still relevant to the changing market. If their skills are not aligned with the future needs of the business, it may be necessary to retrain or consider hiring new talent.

Prospecting for Top Talent

As salespeople are encouraged to prospect for new business consistently, sales leaders should also be proactive in prospecting for top talent. This involves conducting interviews and exploratory coffees even when there are no immediate openings. By consistently seeking out new talent, sales leaders can ensure they have a pipeline of potential hires and avoid the desperation of insufficient qualified candidates.

Setting Learning Goals

In addition to sales goals, it is important to set learning goals for your team. These goals should include both hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills may include technical knowledge or product expertise, while soft skills may include empathy, assertiveness, and emotion management. By setting learning goals, sales leaders can help their team members improve, stay current, and ultimately achieve their sales goals.

The Role of Coaching

Coaching plays a crucial role in developing sales teams. Sales leaders should proactively manage performance, provide regular reviews, and offer additional coaching and training to help their team members grow. Accountability is key, and sales leaders should be accountable for their coaching activities. Companies like LinkedIn have even tied some sales managers’ bonuses to the number of coaching meetings conducted, emphasizing the importance of coaching in driving success.

Conclusion

Building excellence in sales leadership starts with having the right team. Sales leaders must be willing to make tough decisions about non-performers and proactively recruit top talent. Developing the necessary soft skills, such as coachability and resiliency, is crucial for success in a fast-changing sales environment. Evaluating the skills needed for future success and providing ongoing coaching and training are essential for building a high-performing sales team. By taking action and focusing on the people, sales leaders can set their teams up for a blockbuster sales year.

As the sales landscape evolves, sales leaders must adapt and ensure their teams have the skills and mindset needed to succeed. By staying proactive, continuously learning, and embracing change, sales leaders can navigate the challenges of the future and drive excellence in their organizations.

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