How do I become an effective leader?

To be in a position of leadership is a privilege and a responsibility. Leadership requires the ability to multitask and oversee the quality of work whilst providing guidance and acting as a role model to those who are under you.

People become leaders and managers through a variety of avenues. Some people apply externally for a managerial position and are suited to this role because of their qualifications, skills, and experience. Others have worked in a particular company for a solid amount of years and work their way up the ladder to a leadership position. Either way, it’s accepted that to be in a leadership position, people must have had the relevant training and coaching and are qualified to be in such a position.

Through my research and my 30 years in the sales industry, I have found that this is not always the case, particularly in the field of sales. Most sales managers have said they were given no formal training in sales management practices, either before or during their time as sales managers. Like many salespeople, they were thrown in the deep end. Sales managers are crucial to the bottom line, yet money, time, and effort are not being invested into much-needed training.

As we enter a whole new world of business, it’s time to rethink business training and coaching processes and prepare leaders for the year ahead. It is time for businesses to ask, ‘what do I need to see from my sales leaders and how can I help instill these attributes?’ The following are what sales leaders need to know to become effective sales managers, and what businesses should be aware of so they can train their leaders in the right areas:

Business growth: One of the main functions of a sales manager is to ensure business growth and increase profit margins. A sales leader needs to actively sell as well as get the sales momentum going for the entire team. This way, they’re still participating in ongoing learning about the business, how it works and how to make it better.

Advanced communication skills (verbal and nonverbal interactions): Sales leaders need to possess the qualities of active listening, empathy, integrity, honesty, detachment, and effective questioning. The combination of these qualities is needed for a variety of duties that a leader takes on.

Teamwork: Sales managers need to build a strong sales team around them to achieve revenue and profit projections. Part of building a strong sales team is to strengthen team commitment and increase employee engagement. It can take people their whole careers to successfully master these attributes and qualities.

However, investing in regular and ongoing training will support sales leaders in their development, allowing them to only improve and gain a significant competitive advantage.

To help you be on the front foot next year with the expected volatile economic conditions, check out the Annual Barrett 12 Sales Trends Report and see what’s in store for your business in 2012.

Sue Barrett is an experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider, entrepreneur, and founder of Barrett Consulting.

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