Few tasks determine the success of a company as much as hiring sales leaders can. Pick the right leaders, and they'll drive your company ahead of the competition in ways you wouldn't have ever thought of, turn their team into dedicated, highly efficient workers, and crank profits up to 11. Hiring sales leaders based on the wrong criteria, on the other hand, can crater your profits, drive up sales team turnover, and damage you in the public eye. With that in mind, it's vital that you take your time when hiring sales leaders, and consider these five key factors when vetting potential employees.
When hiring sales leaders, you want to select individuals with a strong appreciation for and affinity for using specific methods and processes to improve outcomes. That is to say, you want a sales leader who will help your team develop and refine a sales process, not one who intends to let everyone 'wing it' and gives advice that's all art and no science. Sales needs both sides of the equation, and in sales the science lay in firm methods as a foundation for charisma and the 'art' of sales.
Willing to Coach.
Nothing improves sales performance better than one-on-one coaching, and even group coaching presents remarkable improvements in bottom line outcomes. That means you need to be hiring sales leaders that are willing and able to sit down with their team and work to improve them-not with generic advice, but based on individual and team performance metrics. Hiring sales leaders that turn hard and soft data into personalized lessons will make your sales division boom. This is, in many ways, a sales leader’s most important duty-hire someone that will fulfill that duty, not someone who serves as a hybrid nanny/secretary.
Willing to Learn.
Hiring sales leaders that know their business today is well and good, but more important than their knowledge today is what they'll know tomorrow, next week, next year. If you're hiring sales leaders that will be behind the competition in every area a year out, that will be learning about industry changes from their new hires instead of teaching those new hires cutting edge lessons, then you're hiring the wrong people. The best sales teams grow under the watchful eye of managers that keep their edge and pass their knowledge along.
Hiring sales leaders that focus on their own career above all else rarely results in good outcomes across the company. These leaders sometimes look good in a vacuum, but they often engender long-term problems, issues ready to erupt and cause problems at any point. Self-centered sales leaders often apply high pressure tactics to their teams, and encourage similarly high pressure sales tactics, with an end result of short term gains leading into unhappy sales people and unhappy customers-neither a group you want deciding to go elsewhere.
Never forget what expertise you need when hiring sales leaders. You'll need to make decisions on what skills and experience you value, and the best answers will often seem counter-intuitive at first glance. A hire with less relevant experience but a history of expert leadership will often present better outcomes in the long term than a hire with experience that matches your field perfectly but couldn't lead their team out of a paper bag.
Consider this: traits that make for an excellent sales leader, such as a willingness to learn and pay attention to details, lend themselves to picking up the details of a new industry. The traits of someone excellent in your industry but with minimal leadership experience do not, necessarily, help them learn leadership in the same way. Make sure you're putting your attention on the important details instead of drowning in the noise of a great industry pedigree.