Leadership for the sales team is considered to be a strong predictor of sales force effectiveness. Measured in terms of objective performance, relationship performance and customer performance, sales force effectiveness is a key indicator for firm’s long-term financial performance. And, for most of the firms, the responsibility rests with the sales managers who are mandated to lead their teams to perform better, year after year. However, as businesses move into greater complexities in an uncertain environment, there are stronger pieces of evidence emerging from various studies to suggest that salespeople who are more empowered to serve their customers are likely to be better performers.
One of the more powerful ways to empower your sales force is to train them with appropriate cognitive strategies. A set of such strategies is called self-leadership strategies or SLS. There are three dimensions through which these strategies provide enough drive and motivation to salespeople so that they achieve the desired sales outcomes. These dimensions are; (a) Thought self-leadership, (b) Behaviour focused strategies, and, (c) natural rewards strategies. These strategies in a standalone form or through an interactive mechanism heighten the sense of self-efficacy (the belief that one can engage with customers with complete knowledge and skills) in salespeople and they become more confident in dealing with complex sales situation with minimal supervision.
In a 2015 paper which was published in Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, we presented the evidence to suggest that natural rewards strategies were the key driver of customer orientation in salespeople and they could achieve higher levels of performance by deploying selling skills and emotion regulation mechanism effectively. We followed up on our previous work and tested another model in our next paper (forthcoming in the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing) in 2016. Here’s what we found; thought self-leadership enhanced the self-efficacy perceptions among salespeople and they could perform at higher levels (relative to salespeople with lower thought self-leadership) by effectively using their selling skills and adaptive selling behaviors. Clearly, in both the studies which used sales force as a sample, the relationship between SLS and performance was significantly positive and this linkage was mediated by skills and behaviors deployed during the planning and execution of sales calls.
One big reason that a company should invest in SLS training for its sales force is about enhanced effectiveness. The bigger and more important reason to consider SLS training is to build a sales team which delivers sustainable and purposeful growth in sales numbers, independent of supervisory influences. Another advantage is in the form of reduced supervision cost and therefore, as your sales force moves into a higher plane of self-leadership, you can have a sales organization with lesser layers.
More speed to your sales organization!