article | August 12, 2014
5 Ways to Fill Your Sales Leadership Pool
Global surveys continue to reveal a top concern of HR leaders – building Leadership. Take Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends 2014” survey. An excerpt:
“Building global leadership is by far the most urgent : Fully 38 percent of all respondents rated it “urgent”… Companies see the need for leadership at all levels, in all geographies, and across all functional areas.”
Sales is not immune to this. We hear from many HR and Sales leaders about the need for developing leaders. Our own research validates issues with sales leadership. For example, here is a view of the issue from SBI’s 8th Annual Research Report: “Sales leaders struggle with recruiting top performers, onboarding them effectively, retaining them and developing them into future leaders.”
Even the existing Sales leader is vulnerable. Take this chart of average tenure:
Note that last line which shows some promise: the “Right Sales Strategy.” To find out more on that approach, sign up for this workshop.
This post gives ideas for building a pool of leaders. I’ve also built a downloadable planning tool for developing leaders – “Leadership Progression Plan.”
Five Sales Leadership Development Ideas
Here are five leader development ideas to help build a pool of leaders. Before implementing any of these, you’ll need some sort of certification program. In other words, a way to know which sales personnel are potential leaders – and worth putting through the effort. See the Leadership Progression Plan for more information on this.
1. Send Them Out
Create a temporary pilot team using leadership candidates. Put them in a scenario where their leadership skills must be exercised. Give them an objective and untether them from normal restrictive processes. Give them a team of other upwardly-mobile talent and a budget to work with. Use the ‘pilot’ to evaluate their leadership abilities – especially skills like resourcefulness, determination, and team-building.
2. Teach on Leadership
Provide the idea on teaching and see how candidates take it up. Give them topics to choose from to prepare for teaching events. Then leverage them for events like Sales Kick Offs, Weekly Sales Meetings, reinforcement sessions of earlier training, etc. Evaluate them on communication, problem identification and presentation skills.
3. Blog on Leadership
Set candidates loose on an internal (or even external) blog – writing about sales leadership. Give them goals (for example, 1 blog a week for 3 months) and the topics they must cover. Check for their ability to do research, draw insights from research, and tell compelling stories for the audience.
Allow them to participate as a leader in civic volunteer opportunities – possibly even pro bono work. A condition, of course, is that they provide a full report out of their experience. Also, have them either blog or teach the application of their learning to your business.
Have them spend some predetermined times with top Sales Leaders. The leadership candidate would be “attached to the hip” of the Sales Leader to see a Day In The Life Of that leader. The Sales Leaders would have the candidate involved in making decisions. The candidate would also receive coaching and mentoring from the Sales Leader during shadow times. This opens the eyes of the candidate to the intense nature of the Sales Leader’s role.
These same ideas could be used for building Marketing or Sales/Marketing Operations leaders.
Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net -> Vlado
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