Sales leaders are in the business of influencing others. That includes customers and colleagues (engineers, service, support, or executives) as well. What do people do who are effective at influencing others?
Let's understand the concept of influence by taking a look at how leadership has helped you be successful or how someone in a leadership position has influenced you. Two questions follow that will help you understand the way leaders work. Take a moment to read the exercise and think of a situation that fits. Choose one of the two questions.
Think of a leadership success you've had at any time in your sales career. (This should be an experience where something positive happened in a challenging situation to deliver a solution to a customer as a result of your influence.)
Go back to a defining moment, a time when you were influenced to follow someone else's lead in a sales initiative that resulted in an innovative approach for solving a customer problem.
Once you have chosen a question, answer these questions as you recall the experience:
What insights do you have about sales leaders based on your own examples?
What were the leadership qualities that allowed you to be successful?
When we think about people who have influenced us as leaders or times when we have used our leadership abilities, we associate those times with positive emotions. They are memorable for us and sometimes they positively change the course of our companies, our careers, our lives, or the lives of others. We may not have a lot of these experiences. We would be fortunate if we did. But the times we experience leadership do stand out.
We ask people, "Do you know someone who you consider to be a sales leader? If so, what qualities would you say contribute to that person being a sales leader?" I started with my own list and then received a number of additions. I began with some important qualities: integrity/honesty, competency, enthusiasm, vision, energy, empathy, and communication skills. I received suggestions to add the following qualities: motivational and passionate, committed, and servant attitude.
Determining which leadership qualities you possess can give you insights about where your strengths are and where you could improve. Every sales leader will not possess every quality. But each will use those that are necessary and will compensate for those that are weaker.
I have a ten-point sales assessment that I use to help individuals and organizations determine their strengths and areas for improvement. Sales leaders tend to like this type of feedback because it helps them understand themselves better and more objectively.
One of the pitfalls that can happen when you propose innovative solutions is making bad decisions. Avoid framing the problem and the decision in the wrong way from the outset.