Evaluating Your Sales Leadership Mindset

Livestock Sales

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You are a sales leader, but where do you stand among your peers in distribution? How do you evaluate where you are today and what it will take to get to the next level? There is always room for improvement, so consider these three actions you can take to improve your sales leadership skills.

Sales leadership is complicated. If you asked 100 sales leaders to articulate the skill that made them successful, you would probably get 100 different answers. The bottom line is every sales leader has a slightly different approach that has proved to be effective for them. Each approach has nuances that work for one leader but will come across as phony for another. However, I believe the following three actions are universal among distribution sales leaders. Let me share them with you and then you decide if they would help you.

Communication is your first step in leadership. Open communication will help you to understand the needs of your customers and your potential customers. So, be interested instead of trying to be interesting. Listen to understand – not to respond. Respect all points of view including those with which you may disagree. Respect does not imply agreement.

Your response to your customer will always be dictated by their current point of view. Someone who finds your suggestion troubling needs a different response than someone who finds your suggestion interesting. Your communication needs to connect both logically and emotionally with your customers.

Once connected, your communication should lead the conversation to higher, more motivated points of view. Once again, your customer should control the pace of that journey. Not too fast, not to slow – just right for that customer.
As a sales leader, one of your favorite words should be “Why.” You need to understand your customer’s perspective on every issue that arises during your interactions. The more you understand their needs, wants, and aspirations, the better you can serve them and help them get to where they want to go while you achieve your goal in the process.

Sales leaders often make assumptions based on their experience, but they never act on those assumptions unless they have verified that it is correct about that individual customer.

When sales leaders have asked every why question they can think of, there is always one more question to be answered before moving on: “Is there anything else I need to know that will help me better serve your needs?”

A sales leader needs to take stock of all their work and ask this question: How is what I am doing today aligning with the bigger picture? There is power in clarity on how your individual job performance aligns with your overall goals and drivers. This clarity becomes even more empowering to you when you can show linkage from your daily efforts towards the progress of your big hairy audacious goal. This transparency also exposes if you are working on something that is not supporting the movement towards your values and permits you to refocus your activities.

Be cognizant that there is always more to learn. Just because you are a top performer does not mean you know everything. You must be open to learning from others, including those who may not be performing as well as you. They will appreciate the chance to show their skills and expertise. Seek outside resources to guide you in the process of leadership development and performance excellence. These are practices where no single playbook works; each sales leader is unique in their goals and obstacles, so don’t try to be an expert in everything. It can blow up in your face and have an adverse impact even though your intentions are in the right place.

Trying to understand what makes a great sales leader can seem elusive at times because it takes practice. Sales leaders must continue to self-improve and be dedicated to serving. So, set some leadership goals for yourself to start making those personal improvements.