Because of your company’s growth, you need leaders and you need managers. So who should you promote? What do you look for in the people who will lead your teams? What characteristics or habits should they possess?
Even if your business isn’t growing at breakneck speed, you may need to focus on developing people who can lead when the time comes. The last thing you want to do is keep people in the same position for long periods of time without any opportunity for growth. They’ll get tired and burn out, and then they’ll look elsewhere for growth opportunities. Make sure you’re always looking for ways to create and develop leaders internally.
The qualities necessary for leaders in your industry may differ from those of other segments, but for sellers in general, the following guidelines offer a good start for identifying potential leaders.
Seller doesn’t equal leader
Your employee might be a spectacular seller, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to leadership. Furthermore, if you have a particularly gifted seller on your team, you may not want to remove him from that sales role.
It’s tempting to believe that your best closer can become a sales leader and train all your other sellers to close as effectively as he does. And it might be true that he can. But it might also be true that he loves selling and he doesn’t want to spend his time conducting one-on-ones or creating reports.
If your team members aren’t interested in leading, don’t force them. Let your sellers do what they do best for your company.
Look for these traits as you ponder when to promote someone.
1. Sellers who want to lead
When you begin your search, look for sellers who actually want to lead. If one of your team members talks frequently about leading or climbing the corporate ladder, consider giving him the opportunity to do it. If he is ambitious and goal-oriented, he might be just the leader you’re looking for.
I recently met with a BDR that a client of mine hired, and the guy was passionate about his work. He strives to go above and beyond the call of duty, and he wants to work his way into a leadership role. He wants to contribute to the organization, but he isn’t power-hungry. He understands that great leaders don’t threaten the people above them because they aren’t competing to take their jobs.
Prepare your replacements as you consider other opportunities you’ll compete for.
2. Sellers with a proven track record
Desire isn’t enough to be a successful seller. You must also have good results behind your name.
You’ll note that I said above that you should not necessarily remove your top seller to turn him into a sales leader. The exception is when that seller is the best candidate for the job and when she wants to do the job.
Recognize, too, that a top performer won’t necessarily be the only team member with amazing results. Consider the top five sellers on your team and then decide whether any of them possess leadership potential.
Consider whether they have any desire to train other sellers, and take note of a “lone wolf” mentality that suggests they don’t want to share with others. Make it your goal to develop a nurturing leadership approach in which team members help one another.
3. Sellers who don’t volunteer to lead
Keep in mind that some sellers may not volunteer to lead, but that shouldn’t necessarily exclude them from consideration. If they have the framework, the talents, and the characteristics of a great leader, challenge them to step out of their comfort zone.
In the book Sales Management. Simplified, Mike Weinberg recalls a CEO who believed it was his responsibility to stretch people like a rubber band: to the edge of their capabilities without breaking them.
They may not recognize their own capabilities, but your job is to help them see what they are capable of.
4. Sellers who are problem-solvers
Too often, sellers fall into the trap of complaining about their work situations. Instead of looking for ways to improve things, they look for mistakes. That negative outlook shows in their results.
Look for sellers who are problem-solvers as you seek people to promote. Typically, they’ll be your best sellers because they make it a practice to solve problems for customers. If you find a seller like this among your team members and promote him, he’ll set an example of problem-solving for the rest of the team.
You’ll have less to worry about because they’ll solve the problems before they get to you. Surround yourself with leaders who can think for you and take care of things so you can focus on other issues.
5. Sellers who are willing to work
Your leaders must be willing to work hard. This doesn’t mean that they work 18-hour days, because it’s very possible to do great work in less time. Instead, you want leaders who can plan and accomplish things.
Watch for the people on your team who show up for work early or who listen to podcasts to learn more. Be aware of the people on your team who dedicate time and effort to develop themselves.
This isn’t about developing a culture of staying late every day, but rather a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. For me, I’m a family guy, and Mondays and Fridays are my family days during the week. If I need to stay late, I’ll make it happen around those commitments.
6. Sellers who are developing themselves
As a bonus, look for people on your team who are investing in themselves. Find those people who are reading books or seeking events to further their training or signing up for webinars that will help them improve their skill set.
If your team members are seeking to improve without you telling them to, you’re well on your way to finding an amazing leader.
Help your team members get to the next level and transition into roles that challenge them.
“When Should I Promote Someone?” episode resources
If you’re a sales rep looking to hone your craft and learn from the top 1% of sellers, make plans to attend the Sales Success Summit in Austin, Tx, October 14-15. Scheduled on a Monday and Tuesday to limit the impact to the sales week, the Sales Success Summit connects sellers with top-level performers who have appeared on the podcast. Visit Top1Summit.com to learn more and register!
You can also connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or try our first module of TSE Certified Sales Training Program for free. This episode has been made possible with the help of TSE Certified Sales Training Program, a training course designed to help sellers in improving their performance. We want you guys to go out each and every single day to find more ideal customers and do big things.
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