What Top Sales Leaders Do Better

What Top Sales Leaders Do Better
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

The Top Sales Leader Effect — What Top Sales Leaders Do Better than their Peers
Getting the right person to lead the Sales Function matters.  The impact of top sales leaders is enormous.  According to research by the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, almost 70% of salespeople who exceeded their yearly quota graded their sales leader as excellent or above average.

So, what is it that top sales leaders do better?

What Top Leaders Do Better
We have seen many companies promote top salespeople into sales management roles that have failed miserably.  Being a high performing solution seller does not always translate into being an effective sales leader.  Sales leadership is about effectively leading, managing, and coaching others to create leverage and sustainability, not doing more selling.

While a background in selling is important, selling skills alone will not help to build an effective sales strategy, sales culture, or sales team.  We know from our sales leadership simulation assessment data that the highest performing sales leaders are:

  • Excellent Strategists
    Our organizational alignment research found that strategic sales clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing sales teams.  Effective sales leaders know how to deploy their team according to a sales strategy that allows them to outperform and win over the competition. They optimize their resources for maximum growth by focusing on enough ideal target clients with a unique value proposition that strongly resonates with what they care most about.

    High performing sales leaders consistently scan the broad environment inside and outside the organization to consistently:

    — Understand the business and think through strategic options to solve complex problems
    — Excel at anticipating and managing strategic risks
    — Seize entrepreneurial opportunities for growth and innovation
    — Set ambitious growth plans with the right sense of strategic urgency
    — Communicate a concrete and appealing vision for individual and organizational sales success
    — Identify a manageable set of strategic sales priorities that the team buys into

    Have your sales leaders built a sales strategy to win?
  • Highly Focused on Customer Results
    Top sales leaders keep their team focused on customer results. Whether their internal metrics are sales revenue, margin, win rate, portfolio mix, deal size, or cycle time, the highest performing sales leaders have clear customer-focused success metrics, hold their teams accountable for customer success, and proportionately reward performance in a way that makes sense. 

    They and their sales teams invest in high levels of targeted business sales training, mentoring, coaching, and continuous learning while proactively removing barriers that are in the way of customer success.  Circumstantial excuses carry little weight. Complacency is the enemy.  Underperformers are quickly and compassionately managed out if they cannot carry their weight after receiving commensurate support.

    Is your sales culture high performing and client-centric enough?
  • Skilled at Spotting, Hiring, and Retaining Sales A-Players
    Top sales leaders know the difference between average and excellent sellers for their unique situation. They understand what it takes to succeed as a salesperson on their team and invest heavily in the assessment process to identify and develop top sales talent.

    Unfortunately, it is not easy to hire good sales people, and sales interviews can be deceiving.  For example, almost half of professional sellers have high levels of sales reluctance resulting in a loss of an average of 15 sales per month.

    Top sales leaders consistently build sales team cohesion, measure and close talent gaps, and coach those with the desire and aptitude to improve.

    Are you investing enough in a proven assessment process to identify and develop top sales talent?
  • Able to Continuously Learn from Experience
    The best sales leaders don’t rest on their laurels. They certainly make mistakes but, as opposed to lower performing sales managers with the same number of years in the job, they actively learn from their missteps and continuously improve in a few key areas. They excel at improving their confidence and competence at building strategic relationships, creating buy-in, eliminating barriers to change, and negotiating for win-win agreements.

    Are you encourage experimentation and fostering a sales culture of continuous learning and improvement?
  • Superior Sales Coaches
    The best sales managers understand that there is no one way to help a customer to succeed. They are able to recognize the different styles and personalities of their sales team members and play to their strengths. They instinctively know when and how to lead, manage, and coach to allow each person to perform at their peak.

    Are your sales leaders compassionate and active listeners who are effective sales coaches?

The Bottom Line
With the quality of your sales leaders so critical to achieving sales goals, make sure you consider the above profile of what top leaders do better.

To learn more about how to create high performing sales leaders, managers., and coaches, download 3 Smart Strategies to Scale and Upgrade Your Sales Team

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance