The terms sales leadership and sales management are often used interchangeably. But should they be? There is a difference between them, and to be effective as a sales leader you need to do both. How do you know the difference, and when do you leverage the different skills?
Sales leadership can bring people from one place to the next successfully. However, it can get confused with positional leadership, which is based on the hierarchy or structure of a team. In The Five Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell states that this is the lowest leadership level.
True leaders are those who people want to follow. They are people who develop other leaders and bring out the best in others.
Sales management is the ability to get things done through other people's efforts. It includes holding people accountable and setting clear direction for them to follow. Of course, you still need to get buy-in from those doing the work, but it is more focused on the execution and the process than on developing the people.
As a sales leader, you need to have strong leadership and management skills. Knowing when to shift from one to the other is important.
Can you have both leadership and management skills?
The short answer is yes. But remember, just because someone is phenomenal at management, it does not necessarily guarantee that they will be exceptional at leadership, or vice versa.
In this sense, people who are more skilled in leadership are more strategic and vision-driven. As a result, they are consistently improving their teams' skills and their own.
However, those who tend more toward management skills focus much more on day-to-day execution and coaching their sales teams to help them sell more effectively.
You can be a great sales leader with sales management skills. However, the most successful organizations are the ones who hone and develop both the leadership and management side of their sales leaders.
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