On this episode of the Sales Gravy Podcast, Sales Gravy Senior Master Sales Trainer Brad Adams talks with Learnit CEO Damon Lembi about maintaining authenticity and integrity as a sales leader. They discuss the importance of doing the right thing, the four key traits for successful leadership (humility, curiosity, integrity, and courage), the significance of continuous learning and sharing knowledge with the team, and why organizations should invest in training and support for their leaders.
Damon’s book, “The Learn It All Leader,” focuses on leadership in times of rapid change. It provides his unique perspective on leadership, gained through his experiences in the corporate learning world.
Leading with integrity and making ethical choices, even in sales, starts with making a commitment to always doing the right thing.
There are four key traits for successful leadership: humility, curiosity, integrity, and courage. Each of these traits are specifically important for sales leaders and positively impact their teams.
It is critical for sales leaders to be curious and open-minded, as it helps them understand their team members’ perspectives and provide effective guidance and support.
Leaders must always be seeking opportunities to learn and grow, in turn building a culture of continuous learning and development.
Organizations should invest in training and support for their leaders, ensuring they have the necessary skills to succeed. Consistent reinforcement and follow-up ensures the effectiveness of training initiatives.
Taking An All-In Approach to Leadership
Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean managing a large team. Each of us has the potential to be a leader in our own way. As an individual sales rep, you have the opportunity to be a leader within your team and also in your role as a parent. I want to emphasize that the term “leader” includes all of us.
Taking an all-in approach to leadership means giving your full effort and putting in 100% commitment. It’s about giving your best in everything you do.
This concept also applies to sales. Sales is not a profession where you can casually say, “I’ll give sales a try today” or “I’ll make ten calls and see what happens.” You need to be fully dedicated to sales or to your leadership role, or whatever it is you’re doing. Even if you give your all and face failure, there are valuable learning opportunities that can benefit you in the future.
If you want to lead, influence, motivate, and guide others, you can’t just dip your toe in. You have to be fully committed, and people will recognize and appreciate it. If you’re not authentic and engaged, it will be a problem.
4 Traits Of Successful Sales Leaders
Acknowledging Limitations: A humble sales leader recognizes their limitations and leverages the expertise of their team. It’s about understanding that the collective knowledge of the team often surpasses individual understanding.
Embracing Collaboration: Encouraging open communication and collaboration among team members fosters an environment where ideas flow freely, leading to innovative sales strategies.
Effective Questioning: Curiosity in sales involves asking probing questions to truly understand the client’s needs and challenges. This curiosity leads to valuable insights that can be utilized to tailor solutions to meet the client’s specific requirements.
Active Listening: Cultivating curiosity also means being an active listener. Sales leaders should encourage their teams to listen attentively, allowing them to grasp the nuances of client conversations and respond thoughtfully.
Doing the Right Thing: Sales leaders should emphasize ethical sales practices. This means being honest with clients, even if it means redirecting them to a different, more suitable solution. Long-term relationships are built on trust, which stems from integrity.
Customer-Centric Approach: Leading with integrity involves prioritizing the customer’s success above all else. Sales leaders should guide their teams to focus on solutions that genuinely benefit the client, aligning with the company’s values.
Embracing Rejection: Sales inherently involves facing rejection. A courageous sales leader teaches their team to view rejection as a learning opportunity rather than a setback. This resilience is key to maintaining motivation and confidence.
Innovative Risk-Taking: Encouraging calculated risks in sales approaches can lead to breakthroughs. Sales leaders should inspire their teams to experiment with new techniques and technologies, fostering an environment where innovative ideas are valued.
Look for Learning
As a leader, you should always be looking for opportunities to learn. This is equal parts necessary for personal growth and advocacy for your team and creating opportunities for their development.
The importance of constantly seeking opportunities to learn may seem obvious, but it is essential for continuous growth. Every person we interact with has knowledge in areas that we may not, presenting countless learning opportunities.
As a leader, whether in sales or any other role, it is crucial to have a strong desire for continuous learning and personal growth in order to evolve. Once we acquire knowledge, it becomes imperative to share it with our team.
Ultimately, the success of our team determines our own success. Therefore, we should approach learning with passion and excitement, and then pass on that knowledge to our team.
Exceptional leaders are also avid learners. They demonstrate curiosity in extracting information from others and then generously share that knowledge to aid in the growth and development of their team.
Why Should Leaders Invest In Sales Training?
Top-performing sales representatives often get promoted to sales leadership roles without receiving any coaching, training, or resources. Unfortunately, this often leads to less favorable outcomes. Therefore, when transitioning someone into a new role, it is crucial to provide them with the necessary skills, training, and support to help them succeed.
From the perspective of a sales representative, it is similar to playing golf. You may have your own swing, but if you do not practice and make adjustments, such as correcting your grip or stance, you will not achieve the desired results. The same applies to activities like making outbound prospecting calls or conducting discovery meetings. Through coaching and training, individuals can learn the right techniques and strategies, which can have a positive impact on organizations.
Furthermore, studies indicate that younger generations are increasingly demanding professional growth opportunities and engagement from their employers. Investing in training not only reduces attrition, which can be costly, but also demonstrates a commitment to employee development. This, in turn, boosts engagement and keeps employees motivated.
Don’t Just Set-It-And-Forget-it
Being an effective leader is crucial. It is not enough to simply delegate training and then ignore it. You must actively follow up, provide guidance, and ensure implementation. This requires combining leadership and coaching skills, and consistently investing in the development of your team. Merely sending someone through a training program is insufficient.
As a leader, it is important to regularly reinforce the learning by conducting meetings with your team. Engage them in discussions about what they have learned and how they are applying it. Hold them accountable for putting their knowledge into practice, whether it be through reading books or participating in training sessions.
Learning and training should not be treated as a one-time event. It requires ongoing effort and commitment. It is a continuous process that demands daily coaching, without exceptions. Remember, just because you have influence over someone, it doesn’t guarantee lasting impact.
It is often said that people need to hear and understand something at least seven times before it truly sinks in. Therefore, adopting a “set it and forget it” mentality is not effective. Consistent practice is necessary, but the long-term benefits are well worth it.
Cheaters Will Kill Your Sales Culture
Sales culture is important, and doing the right thing by your team as a leader is crucial. If you have someone in your sales culture who isn’t making calls or putting in effort, it impacts the team. For a winning sales culture, you want everyone aligned with the same purpose and values.
Keeping someone who blatantly lies or cheats sets a bad example, especially when other team members are aware of it. Short-term gains won’t make up for the long-term impact on culture.
It’s a challenging situation because as a sales professional, you want to make sales. And as a sales leader, you need to guide your team to success. Your executive team expects you to achieve results through your team.
But when you have an exceptional performer who is producing results but causing problems within the team, it becomes difficult to influence others because they see someone doing things the wrong way.
You lose trust with your team. You need to put them on a coaching plan to address the issue. If you haven’t tried to address it before, that’s the first step. But if you’ve already had these conversations and nothing has changed, the only option is to introduce them to your competitor.
Yes, you have targets to meet, but it erodes the long-term culture and affects the other representatives. You can’t expect the rest of the team to follow the rules while someone else takes shortcuts. Until you address this, you’ll have a dysfunctional or negative culture.
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About the author
Brad Adams is a dynamic and engaging trainer, speaker, and coach. He developed his acumen…