Hiring a sales manager is different to hiring for any other job role out there. Why? It takes a specific type of person to be able to mentor a team on sales techniques, lead, motivate and guide their team.
A common misconception is that posting on job boards is the easiest option when looking for a sales manager. But, alas, there’s a few things you should be aware of before jumping the gun. We had a chat with Search Party’s global sales performance manager (or Sales Guru Extraordinaire as we refer him to), Aaron Evans, to get the lowdown on what key things to look out for when hiring sales managers that will make a real long-lasting difference to your company.
What are you looking for in a sales manager?
Before you do anything else, take a step back and reflect on the core requirements you need in a new sales manager. If they’re going to be in charge of an entirely new team, how will you onboard and integrate them into the company so they’re confident to lead new employees? If your company culture is a key part of who you are as an employer, make a note of your values and make sure to ask questions in the interview to uncover if theirs are aligned. Is what is important to you as important to them? Ask your interviewee how they have gone that extra mile in previous jobs. Sales managers need wisdom and patience, and should really want to share their expertise with their subordinates, who can also pass it on in the future.
Sales managers are usually “people persons.” They enjoy working with people and relish in coaching and guiding to achieve results worth celebrating. Although, it’s not always a numbers game with sales managers. A successful sales manager will focus on improving people in the long-term, keeping morale up through difficult times, and providing meaningful feedback. If you notice that a candidate is dropping financial successes and target wins in every other sentence in the interview then it should raise a few alarm bells. Of course, being driven by targets and financial figures is part and parcel of being a sales manager, but be wary when your interviewee is only speaking about the cash. They’re probably not in it for the long-run and could potentially leave you once they’ve made enough commission to book that holiday to Vegas.
Sales managers salaries aren’t usually much more than their juniors, so truthfully they should be interested in this position because they see value in working for your company, and want to make positive changes. You’re looking for someone resilient, who treats setbacks as challenges and will not crumble in defeat. Positive energy is also a must. Can they spread a ‘positive go-getter’ vibe through a team that might get disheartened on days when targets aren’t met? Being able to motivate and navigate your team through difficult times is crucial and can make all the difference between success and failure.
Believe it or not, don’t promote your top seller to sales manager
We see it all too often, where companies give in and promote their best seller to sales manager. But if this promotion isn’t properly thought through and involves no interview, it can be problematic and fairly pointless. A top seller doesn’t necessarily have the life experience or skills to manage and lead a team. True, the person you may have in mind may be charismatic and have unbeatable sales figures, but ask yourself: do they have the leadership abilities to support an entire team?
Sales managers need to have a humanistic approach and show vulnerability. Those are the qualities which allows them to build real relationships in your company. You want your sales managers to make their team feel comfortable and in touch with their superiors. A big bravado character who gets along with customers might not translate in quite the same way to their fellow employees. Regardless of what the figures may say, a top seller cannot warrant employment elevation. The roles are just too different. Unless you see ‘born leader’ shining through their personality, considering other avenues is your best bet when hiring a sales manager.
Ask yourself – Can you visualise them as your sales manager?
Think about all the managers you’ve admired and really looked up to in your professional career. The ones that stand out were probably caring and took the time to nurture your skills, right? Hiring a sales manager your team will respect but also be happy to have a coffee with in the break room is the sort of balance any good sales team needs. This kind of relationship results in the highest levels of productivity and harmony. Think about what good sales managers look like to you then manifest it by asking the right questions and outlining key traits you want to see in them. Ask your candidate what they liked most about their past managers and look out for an alignment in values. Have they adopted some of these winning management styles in previous roles? These are all of the types of questions which can separate the charismatic born leaders to the boisterous sales driven bulldozer.