"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field."

~ Physicist Niels Bohr, quoted in the Harvard Business Review ~

Sales Leadership Training

Why company owners need to train themselves up… 

This is not a hard article for me to write because it's my strongly held view that company owners have to be the sales leader and that means training yourself up. Being a sales leader means having really done the job yourself so that's the basic training.

If you want to be a sales leadership trainer you can only be accepted if you have done the original sales job successfully yourself. You are training people to lead in a sales orientated team. So you as the leaders' leader or trainers' trainer have to have  done both yourself to a very high standard.If you have, read on. Otherwise the following is not written for you and you will struggle to implement change as you are not authentic and that tends to come searing through any flakey training. A sales leader cannot be coached or trained by the HR department, accounts manager or customer service director. He is developed by the company owner, every time. He very often is the company owner…I hope so.

Sales leaders will need to understand that every single member of a sales team will be successful in a slightly or greatly different  way based on style, knowledge, focus and determination. No two people are alike so it's not a good idea to try and make everyone conform to any defined or perceived  image. A big part of being a sales leader is to understand the need to get inside the heads of your team. You have to know as much as you can know about your team and what are the drivers that make them good or currently poor salespeople. Then you can implement change for the better.

A sales leadership trainer will need a comprehensive library and an ability to read and digest a lot of information, mainly in his own time. Some of the best books on sales are actually books on persuasion. Look for persuasion titles more than sales. Sales books often make themselves out of date quite quickly by talking about new ages and new eras and how a particular book prepares you for the newness of it all. You are being sold with these titles; the very best books are often the timeless ones talking about persuasion. You never see a book on persuasion saying "persuasion isn't like it used to be" yet most sales books will try and convince you of that as they sell you on buying the magic words. These magic words have been repackaged and trade marked a thousand times, I have them. Buy a book or books on persuasion and become a convert.

If you are the business owner then, where possible , you should be the sales leader. At some point if you founded the company you would have been the chief sales guy . So wherever possible, if you have not grown too big remain the sales leader yourself. If delegating this position your new leader has to have the respect of your team and not be domineering, not be obsessive with figures and be very much a people person to each individual to cajole the best out of them. This sales leader also needs to be taking the bull by the horns and really leading by example. If cold calling is involved he does cold calling, if walk-ins to clients are part of the business the sales leader does this too, and regularly. Too many sales leaders end up as KPI counters.

Sales leaders are often, very often, not the top person in a team. They can also be recruited from outside and need to come to you with a great stack of experience, humour, patience and wisdom. Do not be the company that trains up a sales leader for that person to go off and be someone else's sales leader. It's a pivotal role and do try and be that person yourself if you own the company is my advice. Other stuff can be delegated, but sales is your main source of income and new clients. It has to have your attention as the owner is also my advice. What am I saying here? Yes, I am saying that the sales leader should be the MD not someone else. Train yourselves up guys, that's the answer.

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