There’s been plenty written about what makes a good business leader, far less about what makes a great sales leader. I’ve met some in my time; though considerably fewer than I’d have liked. Those that have really impressed me shared many of the same traits and characteristics. This is my list;


  1. Integrity

Your team needs to be able to trust you, implicitly. They may not always agree with your tactics or decisions but, if they believe in your honesty and morals, they’ll be much more likely to follow and support you.


  1. Self-awareness

There’s a world of difference between having confidence in your own ability on the one hand, and always believing you’re right on the other. Self-awareness is what makes that difference. Recognise your weaknesses and strengths, and the impact of your behaviour on those you’re responsible for.


  1. Decisiveness

Making swift decisions on behalf of others is a key part of your role as a sales manager or director. Prevaricating and dithering is worse than making the wrong call from time to time. Made a mistake? Own it, apologise, and move on.


  1. Loyalty

Unconditional love from your team is too much to hope for, as is blind loyalty. If you want to foster allegiance you’re going to have demonstrate it first. Fight their corner, watch their backs…without letting them “take the proverbial” of course!


  1. Empathy

Effective sales and account management is impossible without the ability to empathise with the prospect or customer. It’s just as critical when leading a team. With most leaders having themselves sold, you’d expect it to be second-nature. Sadly, that’s not always the case.


  1. Optimism

You know the quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”. Targets are hard to meet and even tougher to break, that’s the point of them! Remaining positive and optimistic, and keeping the troops that way too, is imperative.


  1. Courage

The world’s greatest adventurers, entrepreneurs and sportspeople all display courage in spades. Team members will respect and align themselves with a leader that is willing to take risks and is unafraid of failure.


  1. Steadfastness

People love to know where they stand. Be “the lady that is NOT for turning”, because having an opinion and an approach that is unwavering inspires confidence.


  1. Strategic

In the first instance you need to have a strategy. And then, stick with it. Being distracted by the latest shiny thing will take you off plan and likely off target.


  1. Listening skills

Non-sales colleagues may believe that “the gift of the gab” is de rigeur. In my opinion though, listening is by far the more necessary skill. Successful sales leaders are adept at listening to their teams and tuning in to what is NOT being said is especially useful.


Finally, and harder to define, is character. Be human, real, and share your personality. You don’t need those around you to love you, but you’ll maximise results and ultimately be more successful if they’re on your side!