What Makes a Great Sales Leader?

3 key attributes to evaluate when hiring and developing top sales leadership

Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash. Edited with #PicMonkey.

An excellent CEO once gave me a fantastic framework for evaluating sales leaders. This was focused on companies selling technology solutions, typically software and services. And pertains to businesses that leverage most or at least some inside sales (e.g., Account Executives primarily working with clients on phone & email primarily vs. field selling in person).

The best leaders should be a “4 out of 5” in at least 2 of the attribute categories below. Being a 4 out of 5 in all three would be incredible, but also incredibly rare. So picking the two categories that matter most, or supplementing with other hires or leaders is important.

Attribute 1: The Seller

  • These are your inspirational leaders who can rally a team and also that you always want with you on the biggest deals and pitches. They are they types of sales leaders who you know can get down and do the job of every type of rep and can build the trust with clients that it takes to be outstanding. You get excited about your product and business when you hear them pitch.

Attribute 2: The Builder

  • These are leaders who are always thinking about building a sales team and system that will scale. They are passionate about training, on boarding and creating levels that allow you to hire from the bottom and promote from within. They build incredible relationships with HR, recruiting, customer support. Their teams have clearly defined roles, promotion paths, success metrics and are continuously learning and improving.

Attribute 3: The Operator

  • These leaders build coin operated machines where you put in a nickel and it spits out a quarter. They eat several meals a week with their sales operations partners who they view as their most important enablers. They may not cut the territories or build the account plans, but they fully understand how the right rules, guardrails, compensation and sales plans help empower them and they get their reps on board with this too. They know how to build great relationships with finance, legal and of course sales operations. They are the first to ask for profit targets along with bookings targets since they know this will make their business sustainable.

If you enjoyed this story, please recommend and share to help others find it! Feel free to leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading Mark Growth!