A blog post from our Director Caleb Maistry on how to select or how they select Sales managers in case you are considering hiring one or if you would like to progress to management level.
I am probably one of the elite few out there who truly loves their job; I love the variety, the ability to be part of a business’ strategic and commercial growth, and the exposure it gives me to so many company cultures. What I’ve noticed from this varied experience within all types of businesses is that, simply put, your business will live and die on its ability to grow its bottom line. A company can have the best culture in the world, with the happiest and most engaged employees, but if your business cannot sell and grow revenue it is doomed to fail.
It is out of this realisation that I constantly try to educate my clients that one of the most important positions they will fill within their organisation is that of their Sales Manager. Hang on, not the Financial Controller? Not the Marketing Manager? None of these I’m afraid! Your decision on who you select to manage your sales team and grow your revenue will be paramount to your business’ success or failure. When you next go to market to select your new Sales Manager here are a few things for you to consider.
Have you got a clear goal for your Sales Manager to achieve?
This sounds relatively straight forward but you would be very surprised how many leaders fail to put enough thought into this before going to market. What I mean is that you must first examine your business, its current sales team structure, its needs, and its goals before engaging in conversation with potential candidates for the job. Does your business have an existing team, and if so, what does it need from a management perspective? Is motivating, developing and growing an existing sales team the key responsibility of the role, or is it building a strategic plan to grow revenue? Giving your new Sales Manager a clear agenda of your expectations for the role can be key to their success and your business’ revenue growth.
Your Sales Manager is your company’s brand ambassador
We have recently recruited a Senior Sales Manager position for a client who was recruiting the position for the second time in twelve months. They had previously appointed a Sales Manager who, due to no other reason than being the wrong fit for the role, had caused detrimental damage to their client base. Irrespective of whether your Sales Manager is client facing, or sitting in a purely management role, what they deliver (to clients and/or staff), is what the market receives and perceives of your brand. When interviewing a candidate always ask yourself ‘Is this the person I want representing our brand?’ ‘If I were a client of my company, would I want to do business with this person?’ Selecting a candidate that embodies and embraces your culture, brand, and company ambitions will set you on the road to success almost every time; and it allows your new employee to feel comfortable in their new environment from the outset.
History usually dictates future behaviour
The sales industry is notoriously nomadic; with many sales professionals moving from position to position following promotion, increased salaries, better benefits etc. For the most part (and I say most part as there are always exceptions), this type of history and movement is not what you need in a new Sales Manager. As I’ve stated above; this will be one of the most important appointments you’ll make for your business, and it needs stability and longevity. Your Sales Manager must be tasked with increasing your revenue, developing your sales team, and increasing your year-on-year growth. This is not a short term commitment and neither should it be. When selecting a candidate, review their career history thoroughly; have they shown commitment to past roles? Have they got a demonstrated history of achieving growth and team development? Ask for specific examples of sales targets being exceeded. Make it clear to your prospective candidates that you wish this position to be a long term commitment where they can progress and enhance their career within your business; doing so will attract the more serious and motivated sales professionals you ultimately need.
Are they social?
No, I do not mean are they the type of people that you’d like to meet for dinner or a beer (though if they are, that can often be a sign of shared values); what I mean is have they embraced and utilised social media sales strategies? Sales, just like most other aspects of business, has seen many changes with the advent of social media. LinkedIn has over 300 million members, Facebook has 1.2 billion active monthly users, and Twitter’s one billion users has made including a ‘hashtag’ in normal conversation completely acceptable. All successful sales strategies now incorporate social media to increase reach, brand exposure, and utilise the platforms to drive revenue. Has your prospective candidate bought into the power of social media, and can they show you specific examples from their past roles that demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of social media strategies? The world has changed and if your Sales Manager hasn’t changed with it, you could find your business (and its revenue), left far behind.
Are you ready to be collaborative?
Those who dedicate themselves to a professional career in the sales industry tend to share a number of traits – sales professionals like to be motivated, they like to be congratulated, and they live for that feeling of converting a cold lead into a solid and profitable sale. Sales professionals do not like to be shouted at, they do not like to be marginalised, and they loath not being communicated to. A great Sales Manager not only possesses these traits, but they recognise their importance in their team members. These are traits that you need to also recognise when identifying your new Manager. Are you prepared to have a collaborative relationship with them? If your intention is to hand your new Sales Manager a list of targets and goals without including them in the decision making process, and then expect them to be achieved, you should immediately stop the recruitment process now and do the job yourself. If you wish your new appointment to be successful you must make them part of your strategic team when designing your targets and goals. A good Manager will know their team’s capabilities and will tell you frankly whether they are capable of achieving your targets or not. A great Sales Manager will tell you that your targets are unrealistic for their present team but will then propose strategies designed to make their team capable of achieving those targets. This will only happen if you’ve put them in that room and given them the opportunity to effect the strategy and achieve your desired results. If you decide to dictate rather than collaborate then you are selling yourself, your business, and your Sales Manager very, very short.
To get more in depth career advice and pointers… connect with him on LinkedIn. Caleb Maistry or on our LinkedIn profile.