People skills, ambition, and sales savvy are requisites for any sales director position. But for successful sales directors, the list does not end there.
They exhibit additional key characteristics and tendencies that elevate their management abilities from adequate to excellent. In order to provide a framework for CEOs hiring sales directors, we have identified nine characteristics that, in our experience, characterise genuinely exceptional sales directors.
The most effective sales directors are role models. If you want your sales representatives to devote themselves and consistently invest in their professional development, the sales director must do the same.
Effective sales management and complacency are incompatible. As managers, they must resist the temptation to stagnate in their current responsibilities and commitment to growth. They must consistently demonstrate a desire to improve and act on that motivation.
Successful sales directors always seek out sales management and business management education opportunities. They make a concerted effort to comprehend and approach the aspects of their position that go beyond just overseeing your team. They maintain a grounded, receptive, and ambitious attitude regarding their ongoing professional development.
Your company’s sales team’s continued success hinges on the talent your company recruits. If a salesperson lacks the ambition, skills, or cultural fit to prosper and contribute to their team, even the best sales director in the world can only do so much.
Onboarding and subsequently letting go of an ineffectual hire is a significant drain on time, effort, money, and resources. Therefore, effective hiring abilities are essential for successful sales directors.
Identifying and pursuing the ideal candidates is undoubtedly easier said than done, and there is no definitive profile of the ideal sales representative for your organisation. Nonetheless, your sales director should search for essential qualities, such as coachability, intelligence, work ethic, curiosity, and relevant experience.
Consistency and cohesion are crucial to managing a productive sales team; doing so keeps the ship together and makes the team’s collective effort more fluid and effective. The team must be on the same page, so providing them with a framework to adhere to is beneficial.
Successful sales directors understand that a well-structured sales process is essential. They enable your company’s team by establishing, monitoring, and facilitating an effective sales sequence for representatives to follow.
There should always be some rhyme and reason to your team’s sales efforts, and the best sales directors recognise that it is their responsibility to define and enforce this.
Successful sales directors always seem to know exactly how to steer their sales organisations to outstanding success seem to be rare. We discovered that high-performing sales directors do not necessarily stand out for making great decisions all the time. What makes them stand out is being more decisive.
They make decisions earlier, faster, and with greater conviction. They make those fast decisions consistently—even amid some ambiguity, often with incomplete information, and in unfamiliar territories. In our studies, people who were described as “decisive” were eleven times more likely to be high-performing sales directors.
Successful sales directors understand that a wrong decision may be better than no decision at all.
The only success in commerce counts if it can be verified. Therefore, sales directors must comprehend how their own and their team’s efforts will be evaluated. They must understand your key performance indicators, such as average sales cycle duration, average deal size, discovery-to-close rate, and any other metric that demonstrates the precise impact on your team.
Additionally, they must understand how these metrics will be reported and communicated to the team. Their ability to conduct, interpret, and act on reporting is crucial to identifying areas for development — for both them and their team.
Most sales directors know they must divide their attention among short-, medium-, and long-term perspectives. The adaptable sales director spends as much as 50% of their time thinking about the long term. Less successful sales directors, by contrast, devote an average of 30% of their time to mid to long-term thinking.
This long-term focus makes sales directors more likely to pick up on early signals of market changes. Highly adaptable sales directors scan wide networks and diverse sources of information that may at first seem unrelated to your business. They look for market trends and barriers that can have a flow-on effect on your company. As a result, top sales directors sense the need for change earlier and make strategic moves to address it.
Adaptable sales directors also recognise that setbacks are integral to changing course and treat their mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow.
Sales directors who considered setbacks to be failures had 50% less chance of succeeding. Successful sales directors, on the other hand, will talk about where and why they have come up short in situations. They give specific examples of how they adjusted their approach to do better next time.
People don’t always get along, and sales professionals are not an exception to this rule. As a manager, you are frequently responsible for resolving disputes between your team members. Workplace conflict is normal and can be productive.
The best sales administrators are able to remain calm, impartial, and objective in these circumstances. Conflict does not necessitate confrontation, and you must know how to prevent this tension from affecting the team’s performance.
Effective managers are able to listen to all sides without showing favouritism and ensure that conflicts are resolved constructively, thereby minimising friction, maintaining high morale, and ultimately enhancing the efficiency of their teams.
The ability to reliably produce revenue results was possibly the most powerful of the essential sales director behaviours. Companies have a sense of comfort and trust in employing sales leaders with a track record of predictable results.
Those sales directors also rate strong on organisation and planning skills. They establish business management systems enabling them to drive growth. These include structured meetings, dashboards of KPI metrics, clear accountabilities, and multiple channels for monitoring performance and making decisive course corrections. Most importantly, they surrounded themselves with strong teams capable of delivering agility to market challenges.
Coaching and providing feedback are two of the most essential responsibilities that sales managers consistently have. It is their responsibility to provide the kind of personal insight that will maximise the performance of their sales representatives.
Typically, fulfilling these essential responsibilities requires empathic leadership and constructive direction. You must know who your representatives are. No two team members are identical, so they will be receptive to different coaching styles.
Finding a successful sales director with these qualities will positively impact your company. CEOs will be less pressured and frustrated as the sales director can lead in delivering reliable and consistent results.
It is important to seek assistance when hiring sales directors to ensure you are not overlooking important characteristics over the comfort of industry knowledge and relationships.
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