Five traits of a successful sales leader

Written by: James White

Are you a sales leader who has a team that looks up to you to get great results and to achieve targets?

If so, then what are some key traits you should be showing to become an inspirational leader who other people really want to work with?

Throughout my sales career, I’ve seen so many different people and managers who are average at leading sales teams. They end up making a decision that causes people to resign, creating more problems for the company in the long run.

I am going to share with you the five key traits of a successful leader and what you can put in place to lead your sales team to brilliant results.


I’m not saying that you have to be obscure and abstract in the way that you lead people but have a strategy in place for how you’re going to achieve sales success.

Sales leaders who operate from tactic to tactic, and problem to problem, are not going to gain the respect of their team. They’re not going to be able to hit the company’s goals and people will start to lose faith and trust in them.

All great sales leaders have a strategic plan which outlines:

  • who you’re going to target;
  • where are you going to engage;
  • how you’re going to make that happen with the right investment; and
  • the activities you need to do to get the right results.

Maybe it’s going to take six to twelve months, but if you have clear metrics and measurements, as well as KPI’s within your strategy, your plan will come together.

Your team may look at this and think “wow, this looks exciting!” They may query it, they may have questions… Come up with a sales plan that has details to, showing exactly what needs to be done to make the results happen.

Sure, people may challenge this but at least you have some frameworks in place that are based on some facts and evidence. I did a video on how to create a sales plan if you haven’t looked at the video click here to look at it

If you want to be seen as a strategic and key sales leader you’ve got to have a strategy in place of how the numbers will happen, as unfortunately they won’t just magically appear! Your team look for that leadership from you, be strategic, build a plan and you’re halfway there!


Brilliant sales leaders are analytical and they understand that even though sales is a science and a skill, the way we develop our skills is key.

They also know that behind so many successful sales activities is great data. Data is underpinned by the actions that we take. Review and understand the numbers and know what the implications of those numbers mean.

Great sales leaders know the key information that they need to store and capture at each stage. They are able to assess where their people are against targets, and they know where the problems are (and where they may need to put their foot on the gas).

The key thing is to understand data. Without data, evidence and information, you cannot analyse to make any informed decisions to help move your company forward.

If you want to be a sales leader that’s respected, know your numbers. Don’t just come up with numbers off the top of your head and then think that will earn you leadership brownie points. Have an understanding of what good data looks like, what’s realistic, and what’s possible. And then actually implement this. If you know your numbers, your team will be able to understand what you need to see from them in order to get great results.


There is a brilliant story by Simon Sinek where he talks about a coffee Barista in Las Vegas called Noel. Noel worked at the Four Seasons and he loved his job simply because the managers came by every now and again, and asked him what they could do to help him do his job better.

They were thoughtful. They were thinking of their employees, their day-to-day and what that person was going through, and wondered if they could make things easier for them, so they asked. They weren’t “all talk” either. They listened and implemented.

Great sales leaders are thoughtful. They understand the thought process that buyers go through but they also understand the thought process that their sales teams go through.

Think about yourself as a sales leader. Are you thinking about your team and showing them your appreciation? Or are you just focused on yourself and what you want to achieve? If it’s the latter, then don’t be surprised when your team don’t really want to work for you…

If you think about them, support them to grow, and invest in them to develop their careers, then they’re going to repay that loyalty with great numbers and great business. Together as a team, you can make amazing things happen. Being thoughtful it’s a key trait to have.


We can talk all day long about all the things we want to do and how we want to do it. Great sales leaders want to focus on getting results in place and making actions happen, they want to put time in the diary to make meetings happen. They want to get activity and schedules in place, they want to make calls, they want to do the work that’s required to get sales success.

Great sales leaders understand that you might have all the grandest plans in the world, but vision without execution is hallucination. They know that in order to hit numbers to make growth happen you’ve got to do the work. They focus on spending their time and protecting their time so that they can get the work done they need to.

They prioritise work that is important. By doing that you stand a far better chance of getting the results you want. Great sales leaders know that action does much more than talk does. They focus on the work and get the work done and it helps them achieve results than then motivate everyone to feel great about where they’re going and what they can do to help the company grow.


I see it so often in companies I work with that sales leaders don’t even want to make sales calls. They don’t feel that it is their job. Whereas great sales leaders will want to make the phone calls and go to the meetings. Rather than just tell their salespeople what to do, they show them.

As I was once told, if you think you’re too big for the small jobs then you’re probably too small for the big jobs.

You’ve got to lead by example by making the calls, doing the work and activity needed to make sales happen. Sales leaders that do that build respect and build a strong team around themselves. Show that you are able to do the work that you are asking your sales team to do.

Don’t just assume that cold calling can be done by everyone, or that targeted calling can be done by each person. Take action! Get on the phone and show your team that you’re as good as them. It builds respect, it builds loyalty and makes people want to work and learn from a leader. Don’t just sit in the background and expect other people to do things that you won’t.

These are the five traits that I know are critical for a sales leader. But if you are a sales leader what are some of the key traits you think are important that I haven’t included?

Maybe you think I have missed some off?  Let me know what they are.

These five key things are important for you as a sales leader to build the respect that you want.  You’ve got to be thoughtful, you’ve got to understand data, you’ve got to be results-driven, have a plan and strategy to move forward, and you must lead your team by example.

Put these things in place and you will be on the right path to being seen as a great sales leader.

Do you want to find out how your sales culture is in your business or your team?

 Take our sales culture score card and find out if your business is booming or bumbling along.

Publish date: 18 November 2022

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