The Top Traits of Highly Effective Sales Leaders: A Deep Dive

Let’s first define the term “highly effective” when it comes to being in sales leadership; specifically, sales management. To be an effective sales manager means one has successfully grown a sales organization in a multitude of ways and held that sales organization accountable for performing at its highest level. The result of highly effective sales leadership often takes the form of meeting revenue and profit goals while simultaneously developing talent. To do so, management must be proficient in the following traits:


A manager’s strength in coaching is a leading indicator as to whether teams will develop or stay stagnant. There are two big misconceptions when it comes to coaching: how to do it and how often to do it.

             How to do it: First and foremost, the manager needs a good relationship with their salespeople, fortified by trust and respect. Do your salespeople trust your intentions, believe in your advice, and respect your expertise? If so, you have a much higher likelihood that your coaching will “stick” if you’re actually coaching as opposed to training. Many managers believe they are coaching when in fact they are simply educating, explaining, or demonstrating – none of which are coaching. The goal of coaching is to yield self-awareness and self-sufficiency from your people. Key word: “self”. If you are constantly telling them about their patterns, and explaining to them what to do, you’re more likely creating learned helplessness. The fix is simple: anything you’d like to explain to them or tell them, simply form that statement into a question and have them come up with the answers. Think of yourself as your team’s newly appointed sales therapist – you’re simply there to ask the questions that get them to reflect.

                  How often to do it: 55% of your time should be spent coaching if you want your team’s skillset level to increase. Ideally, you’d be coaching your team daily. This activity could consist of, but would not be limited to pre-call planning/strategizing, post-call debriefing, call review, ride-alongs, personal goal review meetings, encouragement, sales-process based coaching, proposal help, pricing help, etc. As you can see, there is plenty to discuss! Most managers aren’t spending the appropriate amount of time on the most important items. They’re instead attempting to be efficient with their time spent with team members when they should instead focus on effectiveness.



No one is motivated every day of every week of every year. A temporary lack of motivation is normal and be caused by any number of things like being overwhelmed, stressed, or burnt out. Ask any salesperson and they’ll tell you they’ve experienced one, if not all three of those ways of being in the past year. Therefore, motivating your salespeople is an ongoing process during which you step in and provide assistance on the days they feel they aren’t able to self-start. Here are two things to keep in mind for this skillset:

                  To motivate your people, you must know how they’re motivated. We all assume that everyone wants the same things we want. If you want more money, you’ll believe your team wants more money. If you want to be promoted, you’ll assume your team wants to earn promotions as well. In reality, we’re all hardwired differently. If you’re going to help someone get back on track, you have to know which desired destination they’re headed for. Does your sales team have personal goals? Do you know what they are?

                  To effectively motivate your team, you’ll also need to give recognition and appreciation for their efforts. If the people on your team don’t feel their purpose is recognized, or like they’re making a difference in your organization, is it any wonder they aren’t motivated to continue to grind? Maybe you’re thinking “We pay them, that’s how we recognize them!”. Keep in mind, that they can get paid anywhere. However, the more impact they feel they have on the business, the more likely they are to feel connected to it and motivated by their success within it.


While this skill set is the easiest to master and the most straightforward of all in this blog, it is not the “fan favorite” for most sales managers. We often hear “I don’t want to micro-manage my people”. We don’t want you to either…we simply want you to manage them.  Your team members need clear expectations to thrive. In addition to quota, they also need to understand how to achieve quota and what your expectations for their efforts are.

                  If you’re simply holding your team accountable to a monthly quota, you’re attempting to manage the past (and that’s impossible). Think about it, all the deals in their pipeline are conversations that have already happened, especially the late-stage opportunities. You’re simply sitting around and asking for updates on events that have already taken place – that’s not managing. However, if you instead focus on their activity level, number of prospecting attempts, meetings booked, and conversations had, you have a shot at influencing the future.

                  Next, you’re going to have to stop accepting excuses. Many managers accept mediocrity because they don’t want their people to dislike them. In essence, this is simply the act of enabling. And it’s more about you than it is about them. If you’re concerned your people will be mad at you for holding them to a higher standard, you’re more concerned with how they perceive you than you are for their success. Or perhaps you genuinely don’t believe in that salesperson’s capability. If that’s the case, why would you continue to expect them to perform in a role they will never be successful in? If someone is repeatedly missing the mark from making the appropriate effort, and you don’t hold them accountable to improving that, imagine saying to them either: “I would expect you to do more, but I don’t want you to dislike me and that’s more important to me than your success”, or “I would hold you accountable to doing more, but I don’t believe you can. I don’t believe in you.” This is NOT the kind of leadership salespeople (or anyone) need.


At a cursory glance, recruiting effectiveness can be somewhat gauged by how many new hires you have. If you have a ton of new salespeople hires is that due to an equal ton of turnover? Or was it a planned hiring strategy? Is the sales team growing at all? Regardless of your hiring strategy, here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you want to be effective at recruiting in sales:

                  Hire the best person for the position – NOT the best person available at any given moment. Hiring can be difficult, and often managers feel pressure to fill a role within a certain timeframe. However, hiring a salesperson who doesn’t work out is incredibly expensive. (You can find a handy-dandy calculator to determine just how expensive here.)

                  The second skillset required to recruit effectively are great interviewing skills. Some managers dominate the interview by sharing about the role, the company, and their personal experience. However, just like a good sales call, an interview is all about gathering information versus sharing information. Additionally, the interviewer needs to focus the conversation around uncovering true sales skillsets, versus a candidate’s experience or likability. An effective interview process will include sales role plays so the candidate may demonstrate those skillsets.

               Top-notch sales leadership isn't just about hitting targets; it's about sculpting a team culture where growth and excellence thrive. Great sales managers grasp that coaching isn't just about giving directives but about igniting self-awareness and independence in their teams. Motivation isn't a one-size-fits-all deal; it's about tapping into what drives each team member and showing genuine appreciation for their efforts.  Accountability is about setting crystal-clear expectations and focusing on actions that shape the future, not dwelling on what's already happened. And when it comes to recruiting, it's not about filling seats hastily; it's about finding the perfect fit and conducting interviews that truly suss out sales prowess. By embodying these qualities, sales leaders can steer their teams toward lasting success in today's ever-evolving business landscape.



Emily Shaw

Connect with Emily Shaw

For 25 years, Lushin has guided business leaders toward intentional, predictable growth.

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