Deciding its time to hire a sales manager to lead the sales department is a significant moment in the growth of any company. Before you post a listing or make an announcement that you are in need of a sales manager, take the time to carefully define what you are looking for.
If you are running a small start-up business, you’ll know it is time to hire a sales manager when you feel that you are spreading yourself too thin. Handing the sales reigns over to a manager is a pivotal transition and one that takes time to be a success for everyone involved.
It is imperative that you create a specific job description to include with your posting for a sales manager. The description should include a list of job duties and responsibilities that are specific to your company’s needs and may include recruiting, managing new business and key accounts, generating leads, managing a sales team, and client communications. Organize the list of responsibilities with bullet points for clarity.
While finding someone who has experience in your industry would be a plus, it should not be considered a necessity. Instead, look for someone who has the specialized skill set required to make a successful sales manager. A talented and experienced sales manager can adapt to any industry. Look for someone who has the skills, characteristics, and experience of a leader and manager. Other skills to look for in candidates during your interviewing process should include the following:
Temporal Traits – If you already have a sales team, look at your start performers and identify their common traits. Are they able to multi-task, work well with others, communicate well, have high energy, and are financially motivated? Find someone who shares those traits and who will make a great addition to your team.
Recruiting Skills – Even if your company does not have an opening on the sales team, your sales manager should always be on the lookout for strong talent to bring on board. Can they create a profile of your company’s ideal salesperson? Can they assess someone and differentiate between required and desired attributes? How do they evaluate candidates?
Innovation – A sales team is only as strong as its weakest link. That means your company should not and cannot rely on one star performer to carry the sales team every month. Instead, your sales manager should be able to create a defined formula and model for the entire sales team to follow. Successful sales teams are based on a process; find out what experience your candidates have had in creating a successful formula for their teams.
Inspiring – A true measure of success is how well a sales manager can motivate its team to reach revenue goals. Find out the candidates’ approach to developing their team members. How do they inspire underachievers and motivate overachievers to continue to excel? What is their strategy for quickly assimilating a new salesperson to minimize their time as a non-revenue team member?
Other bullet points to add to your sales manager job posting could include the following:
- High energy
- Works well in a fast-paced environment
- Strong managerial skills
- Steadfast integrity
- Strives to meet high goals
- Maintains positive attitude
- Successfully manages challenging sales deadlines and quotas
Once you have weeded through the application pile, it is time to select those candidates whose resumes exemplified key skills and experience you are seeking. When interviewing, keep in mind that your goal is to find the applicant who will best fit in your company’s work culture while successfully fulfilling the role of sales manager as you have defined it.
If you have a small start-up company, look for candidates are moldable and not firm against change. Find out if they are the kind of person who goes with the flow. As small businesses are constantly evolving, so too should their managers.
Avoid questions that will only elicit a yes or no. Instead, ask questions that prompt an extended response and provide insight into the candidate’s work ethic. Questions such as, “What makes you the best candidate for the job?” or “How do you handle conflict?” or “How do you overcome what you consider your weak points?” Listen not only to the answers but also to how the candidate answers your questions. Do they appear enthusiastic and honest?
Finally, do not forget to check the candidates’ references, a step that should be considered crucial in the interviewing process. Phone at least two of the candidate’s three listed references and find out how they think the candidate could have been more effective or how could he/she have done their job differently. This type of question makes the reference feel less uncomfortable than the standard one about weakness.
Searching for and hiring the right sales manager for your company is one of the most important and, when done right, rewarding moments for a growing business.