The words “sales leadership” and “sales leader” are thrown around a lot, and it seems each time I hear the words, the person saying them is associating them with a different meaning. So what is “sales leadership” and, more importantly, what impact does it have on sales?

First, let’s dispel the myth that sales leadership is something only companies with a dominant position in the marketplace can have. Sales leadership is not about a company or a product. Sales leadership is about you!

I’ve seen companies with the smallest of market shares have the best sales leaders, and I’ll argue the smaller the market share, the greater the need to be seen as a sales leader. When we say “sales leader,” we’re saying two things: A leader to others within the company and a leader to customers and the entire marketplace.

Sales leadership is about maximizing opportunities others don’t see. This means the sales leader can’t be comfortable with conventional norms. They can’t be comfortable being average. Sales leaders view everything as an opportunity, and when they do this, it changes their outlook from being one of protecting what they have to one of building more with others.

A sales leader possesses a drive to know more regardless of the situation. A customer might be content with the products and services your company provides, but that doesn’t stop you, the sales leader. The sales leader is going to build on the base by digging deeper into the customer’s business and, more importantly, into understanding the customer’s customer.

Sales leaders aren’t content with existing relationships. They strive for more and they strive to make each one even deeper. When I say deeper, it’s with the purpose of helping to uncover more ways to serve.

The role of the sales leader with regard to the customer has never been more important. If your customer doesn’t consider you a sales leader, then what value are you bringing them? If you’re not bringing value, then why should your company even employ you?

Customers want to see sales leadership and they will pay for it. No, this doesn’t mean you can add a surcharge to your invoices, noting something such as “sales leadership fee.” Sorry, that just isn’t going to fly! However, they will pay more because they’ll understand better the value of the opportunity. They see the value better, because the sales leader asks better questions and displays a higher level of competence than other salespeople.

Sales leadership is not something a salesperson should aspire to become. Being a sales leader is what every salesperson must be NOW if they want to continue in the profession.

If you’re not helping your customers uncover new opportunities and increasing the value of what you provide from what they initially expected, then you’re not a leader. To get to this level it is essential you understand the customer’s customer. You must nurture relationships and go deeper than the buyer level.

Finally, being willing to ask questions of everyone is vital! Anything less is settling for average, and anything less will quickly make you obsolete.

Your customers seeing you as relevant means they will see you as a sales leader. Join me June 15-16 in NYC for Sales Machine where I’ll discuss this more! You can register at this link.