5 Spearheading CEO Lessons That Improve Sales Leadership
Written by Michele Shams
CEO, Koury Engineering
From CEO to CEO, there is no denying that improving sales leadership with an organization is a fundamental priority to strengthen the bottom line. Furthermore, our sales leaders help cultivate a strong, supportive, and motivated team, which inadvertently becomes the catalyst that drives new levels of business success. In summary, this is an area of business that should not be taken lightly, and I am sure that as a CEO or C-Level professional yourself, you recognize that as well.
However, I am also well aware that each of us has had our share of mistakes, lessons learned, and experiences that have positioned us to create a stable foundation for improving sales leadership in our own ways. Because of that, I would like to share five practical concepts that I have learned through my career thus far. These key points have allowed my sales leaders to become the best versions of themselves, and I believe they are critical elements that should be acknowledged and leveraged, if not already.
1. Emphasize Objective Data
After observation, I have realized that a significant issue in many organizations is that they over-rely on the subjective data delivered by their salespeople to foster hopeful predictions. Though this “gut feeling” may play out in your favor sometimes, the risk is too significant to follow this rudimentary approach, especially with objective insight opportunities are around. So, for this one, emphasize the need for objective data from your sales leadership. Make receiving reliable data backed by facts and numbers more pedestaled to prevent poor upper-level decision making. Not doing so means you could be potentially feeding inaccurate, subjective information up the pipeline, and that can cause severe challenges for the organization.
2. Optimize Transparency
There is a common misconception that upper-management and sales professionals have hard lines that each stand behind. However, I have found that bridging those gaps is where the most success arises. By adopting a transparent leadership model, both you and your sales team are able to get on the same page. It means that you both are clear and honest about both the good and bad business features and understand each other’s roles, so each decision made develops positive results rather than accidental harm. Remember, our sales leaders are on the frontlines, and we can learn a lot from them.
3. Invest in the Right Tools
Technology is an ever-evolving market and one that can offer substantial support to streamline sales processes. By investing in the right cutting edge technology, it can improve sales leadership because they will have better access to deepen customer relationships. Keep in mind that introducing new technology to your team should be a delegate process. Not all technology will be proactive in improving sales leadership, and you want to ensure that your organization does not make rash decisions without proper reviewing. In addition, this is also where the transparency element comes into play again. Communicating openly with your sales team will help you gain insight into what they need/want to make their jobs more effective without losing the humanizing engagement factor along the way.
4. Strive to Develop Leaders at Every Level
One of the best things a CEO can do to improve sales leadership is by making an effort to build leaders at every level. The reason is that if leadership is only being targeted for those sales professionals who are seasoned or at an upper-level, then you will be missing out on your company pushing forward. Leadership execution and dynamic sales coaching programs should be offered to everyone because grooming others to feel strongly about sales leadership will “lighten the load” for the entire team. You will be establishing a sales team of leaders who are consistent and committed all across the organizational pyramid, and that will inadvertently improve win-rates.
5. Don’t Over Manage
Lastly, refrain from over-managing. Helicopter management can intensify stress and become overwhelming to your sales professionals because they will be too distracted by potentially being scrutinized by you than doing their jobs. Naturally, you will want to engage, interact, and set a precedent, but be sure to give your sales leaders the authority they need to go off on their own and try new things themselves to better the organization. As long as goals are being met and the workplace culture is positive with you stepping back a bit, observe how it rolls out. You may be surprised at the results/ideas your sales team will develop after being encouraged to take the initiative to improve their own processes and productivity.
Final Thoughts – Position Yourself, Team, and Business for Success
I understand that as a CEO, you have to wear many hats. However, sales leadership should be one of your primary focal points, regardless of what else may be needing your attention. Salesmen and women are the first layer customers see, meaning they can and will powerfully shift your business’s reputation in either direction. If you want to ensure that the path your organization is going down is the best one, then taking the time to implement strategic executions and develop a robust leadership mindset within your sales team is what is going to help you achieve that.
Overall, improving sales leadership is a high-stakes reality that should be a priority, and we owe it to our employees and customers to become involved. In the end, the ideal way to do that is by learning from the past, incorporating universal lessons like listed above, and leveraging industry-tailored sales best practices. All of this collectively is what will help you create the perfect roadmaps for your business as a whole and what will support you and your team in obtaining a profitable and high-performing future.