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Sales Directors: How do I hire the right one?

The impact of hiring the wrong person into a Sales Leadership role is huge, but it is one of the hires that companies most frequently get wrong with both parties blaming the other. The hired party will often say that the role was ‘oversold’ and that targets and rewards are unachievable and the hiring company will claim that they have been duped by an unscrupulous candidate who lacks ambition or skills. Sound familiar?

So how can you be sure to hire the right person who will hit the mark (and the targets) and help you achieve the sales growth you are looking for?

Understand Your Needs

Companies often make mistakes by thinking their top salesperson will automatically be a great leader, believing any good leader can sell, or assuming that selling one product or service means you can sell anything. However, a sales leadership role is not just about sales proficiency. Gartner (2018) highlights that the skills and competencies of top sales leaders are significantly different to those of their sales team. Therefore, understand the needs of the company strategy, complexity of the market and sales opportunity, and team dynamic and identify what’s needed very clearly.

Don’t just go on gut-feel

Relying purely on your gut feeling is a risky strategy as those in Sales Leadership roles are highly likeable! A 2020 McKinsey study reported that data-driven hiring decisions improve retention by 35%. Therefore, create a thorough and robust hiring process, from informal and formal interviews, setting relevant tasks, and obtaining evidence of achievement and suitable references before making an offer; make sure your gut feeling is supported by tangible evidence.

Get the offer right

It is important to get the offer right in terms of title, salary and reward. But it is equally important to get the non-financial aspects right. Gallup (2017), suggested that for leaders stepping into a new role, receiving the right support, professional development opportunities and precise performance metrics improved transition and early success. So, consider the bigger picture when constructing an offer and build that ongoing wrap-around support.   

Hire for your journey 

For businesses with aggressive expansion goals, hiring for the present is not always enough. Forbes (2019) emphasises the importance of selecting leaders who are prepared for the company’s future scale, ensuring they can build, adapt, restructure and guide teams through growth and the inevitable change it brings. Therefore, look for people who have the right skills, knowledge and behaviours to go on that journey with you, and as always, get evidence!

Hiring the right Sales Director is not always easy, but it is crucial to the success of any business to get it right. Therefore, begin with clarity, build an evidence-based process, and select leaders who possess the right style, experience and behaviours to be successful in the role and can lead teams through growth. 

Want to get it right? The Tribus People team are experts in hiring great sales leaders and have a long list of case studies that we can share to highlight our experience and success in this area. Speak with us today.

Reference List

Gartner (2018). Distinguishing Skills of Top Sales Leaders.

McKinsey & Company (2020). Improving the HR Experience.

Gallup, Inc. (2017). State of the American Workplace.

Forbes (2019). Hiring Leaders for the Long Run.

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