Sales Leaders: Born or Made? - Action Selling ®

Sales Leaders: Born or Made?

MARCH 2019 – ISSUE 178


Dear Sales Executive:

How happy are you, really, with the sales culture at your company? A company with a great sales culture hits its numbers and has fun doing it. The job of creating this kind of sales culture obviously falls in the lap of the sales leader. Most savvy business heads agree that sales leaders have about the toughest, most demanding job in any company.

So, what kind of sales leader are you? Maybe you have always had all the right goods: confidence, ambition, courage, optimism, and more. If you’ve got those qualities, you might be a born sales leader. But, what if you don’t? Or, worse, what if you have those qualities and your sales culture still stinks?

Take heart. I can offer you not just hope, but a plan.

If you have a question about how to turn yourself into a world-class sales leader who produces spectacular results, click on “Ask The eCoach“.

We are committed to your professional success.

Duane Sparks
Author of Action Selling ®


Sales Leader Funny GraphicMany think that some people come into this world with a natural capacity to lead. You either have it or you don’t, and if you don’t there is nothing you can do about it. If great sales leaders are only born, do the rest of us have a shot?

My research on the topic shows that some people indeed have an innate ability to lead others, as well as a tendency to get even better as they mature. I have a son like that. When he was young, a throng of kids followed his lead around the neighborhood. Call it charisma or whatever, he had something special from birth. These members of our species are rare, however. Research suggests that at most, 10% to 15% of all humans have such inborn leadership qualities.

On the other end of the bell curve are those poor souls who have no leadership potential. No matter how hard they try, somewhere between 10% and 15% simply don’t have the wiring for leadership.

That leaves 70% to 80% of us (myself included) who don’t live in either the “born” or “no-potential” categories. Can we make great sales leaders out of these folks?

Here’s my position: People who start out with a moderate amount of raw capacity for leadership can actually become very good or even great leaders. I know for a fact that leaders can be developed. But, like the development of any other personal quality, it takes training on the right skills, followed by measurement and reinforcement so that the skills get used and mature into habits.

No trust? No leadership

What are the “right skills”? I want to go into detail about that in some upcoming editions of eCoach. First, though, let me say this, because it bears directly on the born-vs.-made question: I believe that the number-one leadership attribute is trust. If you do things that cause your team to distrust you, nobody is going to follow your lead, and sales productivity will be compromised.

I carry a short list in my planning diary of what it takes to be a trusted leader. I carry the list around because I consider these simple principles so important.

How to be Trusted

  1. Tell the truth
  2. Keep your promises
  3. Take responsibility for your mistakes
  4. Be what you claim to be
  5. Do what you say you’ll do

Unless you are self-aware about what direction your moral compass points, you won’t cultivate trusting relationships. If you want to grow as a sales leader, decide what’s most important to you, and use it as a guide.

Notice that you don’t have to be a “born leader” to do that. Anyone with the will and desire to be trustworthy can acquire the number-one attribute of effective leadership.

The second big idea about becoming a great sales leader has to do with HOW you lead a sales team. It’s all about processes. If you don’t have the right management processes in place, you won’t be able to add value to your team and achieve the outcomes you need. That’s what I want to focus on in the next few editions of this newsletter.

Download our latest free white paper that describes the most successful way to develop great sales leaders and a great sales culture. Unhappy with Your Sales Culture? (Start With an Overhaul of Your Sales Leadership Process)

Action Selling ® in Action
A lot of companies are talking these days about “sales culture.” It’s pretty hard to develop a great sales culture without a great sales leader. That’s exactly what our best clients have. They know that leader development is an important key if a company wants to build or improve a sales culture.

Lee Roberts, a partner at Bergen KDV, is responsible for developing the sales culture at his fast-growing certified public accounting firm, recently named a Top 100 CPA Firm. He knows that a strong sales culture extends well beyond the formal sales force.

“The cost to add new customers is 7 to 10 times more than gaining revenue from current clients,” Roberts says. “Because most of our clients had only bought one service, we trained all of our teammates, not just those with formal sales responsibilities, on Action Selling ® Customer Relationship Professional (CRP). It was the best investment we could make. We’re doing extremely well as a company. We love Action Selling ® CRP.”

Now, that is great sales leadership! Roberts’ outstanding leadership is the key to Bergen’s sensational growth.

For information about how to make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling ® at (800) 232-3485.

Learn how to create sales leaders and a sales culture that deliver spectacular results. See our free white paper Unhappy with Your Sales Culture? (Start With an Overhaul of Your Sales Leadership Process)