When a sales team is failing or results are inconsistent it’s easy for a sales leader’s responsibilities to be neglected and for the leader to fall into a trap of becoming responsible for the sales team. Another way to look at this situation is to become over responsible for others and under responsible for yourself. There is a line between being “responsible to” someone and “responsible for” them. When the line is crossed consistently it can be viewed as co-dependent, which doesn’t support growth but does enable poor habits.
In order to break through to new heights in sales and team growth, the sales leader’s responsibilities need to be understood and practiced just as much as the sales team’s responsibilities.
Here are three sales leader responsibilities to focus on.
Belief is a powerful tool that can be leveraged to work for a sales leader or it can work against them. If a sales leader finds themselves being over-responsible for the team, it might be that they don’t really believe in a sales reps ability, which can lead to a negative belief. Leaders that do believe in their team should let them know.
Angie consistently made her quota of 40 on the last days of each month. She was determined to hit her quota and she was relieved when she did. She believed she could sell 40 because that is what we told her to do. One day I said, “I believe you could sell 50.” She put a sticker of 50 on her computer and started hitting 50 regularly.
If a leader can’t find belief in the team, the problem might lie in the leader and not in the team. The leader might be over-responsible or they may be neglecting their own responsibilities resulting in a loop of frustration.
Sales leader support should not cross the responsibility line but their support should be obvious to the team. Being supportive is active, not passive and it shows up in the tools you provide, the quality of your conversations and the problems you solve for the team.
If you have high expectations for your sales team, show them. Provide them all the technology they need to be efficient and effective. When they express things are not working, get their problems fixed. You are expecting them to produce hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions. Spending the extra money needed to outfit them correctly will pay off. Better tech tools communicate your belief in them. I’ve heard leaders say, “We buy the best tools for our team because we have the highest expectations and want you to be working at a high level.”
Other tools could be in the form of prospecting or networking, budgets for trade organizations, list services and paid-for edition apps like LinkedIn Sales Navigator or CRMs rather than bare bone freebies.
Support can also be found in how you converse with your team. Making time for the team is included in a sales leaders’ responsibilities. These conversations are usually initiated by a rep to either receive affirmation or have a problem solved, which leads to the next responsibility.
Once a sales team is believed in and supported, a sales leader should be looking ahead to remove obstacles that could slow sales momentum. Obstacles can be found in poor processes or communication between departments that support sales. Vendors can be obstacles and the team will need an advocate who can communicate with vendors or suppliers to remove obstacles. By looking ahead, obstacles are being removed by the sales manager before the sales team knew they existed.
When a sales team knows their leader will remove obstacles, they will communicate more clearly about what those obstacles are. Complaining and exaggerating will move to issue solving conversations. There is great truth and power in the phrase, “Stay in your lane bro.” Define your lane, own it, and work it.