Essential Soft Skills for Sales Leadership Today

cartoon staff running after the leader to illustrate soft skills for sales leadership
September 12, 2023

When recruiting or promoting internally, the necessary soft skills for sales leadership in the CPG industry are more difficult to find and measure than hard skills.

Why? Hard skills are recognizable via certifications or documented experience of – for example – key account management, customer planning, merchandizing strategies, and more.

There are no certifications for soft skills. Yet the importance of soft skills in sales leadership cannot be overstated.

In addition to hard skills, modern sales leadership in CPG requires soft skills and personal traits to help you…

  • retain talent and
  • win in a challenging marketplace!

So – which soft skills do your sales leaders need?

Key Soft Skills for Sales Leadership the CPG industry Needs

1 Team Building with Empathy

Today’s sales teams are more productive if they work together rather than competing with each other in cutthroat fashion. Your sales leaders therefore need a good helping of empathy if they’re to

  • understand each rep as a whole person and
  • see which role fits them best.

Building the team becomes more intuitive with empathy at its core.

2 Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Think self-awareness, self-regulation, and social skills!

For example, if a junior rep makes an error, you need to be able to manage your own feelings and understand and deal effectively with any fall-out in the team.

3 Communication: the Soft Skill That’s Subtle and Powerful

In a volatile environment at key pressurized times in the sales calendar, you can see how important it is that a candidate for leadership has the communication skills to get the best out of the sales team.

Knowing is not enough. Good, demonstrable communication ability – with reps, distributors, and for customer service issues – is essential in modern sales leadership. Clarity and transparency is everything. Your reps learn from listening to your communication skills.

4 Motivation and Inspiration Skills – a Winning Combination

Have you ever recounted how something went wrong (or right!), and what happened next to bring a good outcome? That’s a soft skill all sales leaders need.

To motivate and inspire your teams, you need to be real, acknowledging how things happen in the CPG world, and how your brand is unique. Sharing your stories inspires reps to achieve similar success.

5 Conflict Resolution and Problem-Solving

An ability to hear all sides, be fair, and have ideas for solving issues is an essential soft leadership skill. It also shows you’ll stand by your team when there’s a problem.

It also helps if you also ask team members for suggested solutions. Not because you can’t, but because good leaders with soft skills can make it appear the solution was a group decision. Not cheating – just effective!

Less Obvious Soft Skills for Sales Leadership in CPG

6 Creativity and Adaptability

The CPG world is changing. More channels, more competition, economic realities, and new customer preferences.

Sales leadership now needs soft skills of thinking outside the box and being flexible enough to adapt quickly – for example when

  • faced with supply chain issues and having to rearrange an in-store promotion, or
  • a new social media site becomes popular with your target demographic.

7 Work Ethic

Your leadership skills can’t stay closeted in an office! Staff need to observe your soft skill of having a good work ethic.

The team’s trust in your leadership grows when they see your

  • reliability,
  • time-keeping, and
  • dedication to what you believe in.

This links with inspiring and motivating, of course! And time management and delegation skills will also come in handy here.

8 Critical Thinking – for Sound Decision-Making

Another important soft skill for sales leadership is the ability to analyze and evaluate events affecting your CPG brand – mentally bringing together all key issues, understanding causes, and seeing possible consequences of any action you recommend.

No certification – but you’ll quickly value anyone who has this leadership skill!

Momentum CPG Can Help with Soft Skills

At Momentum CPG, we believe that having the right people in the right places in your teams is an essential part of your roadmap for success. This includes making sure the right people have the necessary soft skills for sales leadership today.

Need some outside input to reach the next level? Schedule a consultation today and let’s talk!

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Article Name
Essential Soft Skills for Sales Leadership Today
Make sure the right person in the right seat has these soft skills for sales leadership today, as well has the traditional hard skills.

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