The Future of Work: Why Sales Teams Need Visionary Leadership
Do your employees think of you as a manager or a leader?
These titles may appear synonymous, but they have an important distinction, especially in sales.
Managers are responsible for key tasks like sales forecasting, delegating, hiring, and firing. Each of these is essential to ensuring your reps stay on target.
But not all managers know how to lead. To succeed far into the future of work, your sales organization needs more than just effective management. You need visionary leadership.
What is visionary leadership for sales organizations?
Leadership is not just about rank, seniority, or even managing a team. It’s not defined by characteristics regularly attributed to leaders, like charisma or confidence.
High-performing sales leaders know how to drive efficiency and motivate their team to succeed. They hit their quotas and fulfill the sales strategy.
But visionary leadership encompasses even more. You need to know how to prepare your team to succeed in the face of challenges that haven’t even arisen yet.
7 things all visionary sales leaders do
Visionary leaders are experts at combining ambitious sales strategy with employee empowerment.
They are instrumental in ensuring a successful future for the sales organization and the business by cultivating loyalty, boosting engagement, and of course, closing deals.
The best sales leaders excel at these seven things.
1. They keep an eye on the horizon
Bringing in the most possible revenue requires a high degree of discipline when it comes to meeting targets and deadlines.
The best sales leaders are adept and setting and managing priorities — for themselves and their teams. They’re goal-oriented and focused, and they hold their teams accountable for moving forward with urgency.
But while they’re fixated on targets, they don’t have tunnel vision.
Visionary leaders always seek to understand the whole picture: what obstacles might be standing in the way? Which skills do reps need to develop in order to succeed? What does the sales organization need today to succeed tomorrow?
2. They have a proven playbook
Creating a comprehensive and actionable sales playbook demands careful thought, planning, and communication.
Effective leaders use the playbook to clearly articulate their vision, strategy, sales processes, and effectiveness drivers. But developing the playbook is not a one-and-done task.
Visionary leadership requires a dynamic approach to maintaining the sales playbook. That means making changes as the business demands amendments to the strategy, and continually reinforce it through training.
3. They are data-driven
The term “visionary” might evoke images of a person with their head in the clouds or someone who sets unrealistically ambitious goals.
Quite the opposite, visionary leadership means maximizing the use of all available information to create a strategy with the highest return.
Being data-driven is a fundamental competence for successful sales leaders. Leaders who rely on instincts and gut feelings to lead the sales organization will have a hard time finding the right direction.
The most effective leaders are analytical by nature and take the time to make informed decisions.
4. They promote a culture of constant improvement
While closing deals seems to be an innate talent for some sales reps, for others success depends on experience and training.
However, sales organizations are naturally high-pressure zones. Employees’ pay and value to the team are directly determined by how much they sell.
Visionary leaders understand that if you make learning and development an expectation, your employees will gladly accept the opportunity to expand their skills.
5. They are all-star coaches
There are some leaders people will really fight to work with. On top of their successful track record, the best sales leaders are expert coaches.
Visionary leadership is having the perspective to see that there are many selling styles that can be successful.
Instead of preaching a one-size-fits-all coaching method, they take the time to get to know each individual’s strengths and weaknesses and tailor their approach accordingly.
While many sales leaders tend to adopt an authoritative, top-down dynamic with employees, visionary leaders identify each individual’s potential and seek to bring it out. They’re deeply empathetic and attuned to employees’ needs.
6. They understand the importance of effective onboarding
When a new employee joins the sales organization, they require ample ramp-up time to ensure they’re prepared to succeed.
Yet, in many organizations, new reps are pushed into the deep end too soon.
Visionary leaders see the long-term benefits of comprehensive new hire onboarding. Inadequate training leads to employee stress and automatically caps them from achieving the best results. It can have a dramatic impact on the employee experience and even lead to early turnover.
Onboarding is a chance to empower the talent you just recruited and put them on the track to success. On top of going over the strategy, processes, sales plan, and goals, properly onboarding the new hire to the CRM is critical.
If your new sales reps can’t use the CRM effectively, their records will be filled with errors and missing fields, and you can even lose out on opportunities.
7. They make sure their teams have all of the resources they need
A fundamental component of visionary leadership is holding yourself accountable — not just for meeting targets, but for making sure your employees have all of the resources they need.
For many sales reps, this will come in the form of a digital support solution. Beyond onboarding, the complexity of modern CRMs requires ongoing, in-the-moment guidance. Adding process automation where possible can vastly improve efficiency and accuracy, not to mention create a better employee experience.
The most valuable resource visionary leaders can give is their attention. Talk to your employees and ask them what kind of support they are lacking.
Taking the time to check in will increase trust and foster loyalty.
Your team needs visionary leadership
A disciplined approach to meeting targets, empowering your employees, and providing personalized support are the key tenets of visionary leadership.
When these things become second nature, you’ll have the perspective to monitor current progress while ensuring a successful future.