True sales leaders are inspired, motivated creators who consistently deliver against key objectives. (Photo: iStock)

Pick up a typical sales report and what words do you find? Verbs like analyse, forecast, plan, assess and schedule, are used in pursuit of efficiency, productivity and predictablability.

Related: 10 ways to be more productive

What type of people are well-suited to meet and exceed the call? Obviously, people who are efficient, effective, proficient, competent, productive and co-operative. 

I believe that true sales leaders need to go beyond: We need to be inspired, motivated creators who are enthusiastic and able to consistently deliver against our key objectives. We should be developing individuals who are not afraid to challenge paradigms, who are prepared to go that extra yard in search of excellence and who understand that success is 80 percent attitude and only 20 percent aptitude.

For a group of people to remain consciously competent, performing at optimum levels, they require frequent injections of stimulation, motivational guidance, coaching, prompting and directing, otherwise, they can easily lapse into becoming unconsciously competent or worse, unconsciously incompetent.

In 2016, around 50 percent of frontline sales professionals failed to achieve quota. Did they fail? No, their manager failed. All roads lead back to the leader. The leader has total responsibility for the success of the team, and that responsibility cannot be abdicated.

The Acid Test: When thinking about your own sales force

        • Do you understand their motivators: What is driving them?
        • Do you have visibility of their numbers: year to date, forecast vs. required performance?
        • Activity levels: Are they working hard and smart enough?
        • Engagement: Are they talking to the right level in their prospects/accounts?
        • Messaging: Are they capable of delivering an appropriate message at the right level?
        • Qualification: Are they only spending time on deals where they can compete and ultimately that they can win?
        • Closing: Are they constructing successful campaigns and closing business?

After all, the primary objective of a professional sales manager has to be: “To achieve consistently superior results through the performance of every key individual.”

Editor’s Note: The original version of this essay originally published on the author’s LinkedIn page.

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