3 years ago
January 6, 2015

How Smart Sales Managers Hire

Here are a few ways smart sales managers weed out the herd and find the best talent their companies’ dollars can buy.

Rhys Metler

Sales managers at a world-renowned multinational corporation and sales managers at a small start-up yet to put out its first product both know that finding and acquiring exceptional sales talent can be a major challenge. Good sales managers probably know why without being told-if you can sell a product, you can sell yourself, but the opposite is not true.

Knowing the difference between hot air and genius can be nearly impossible before taking the plunge, unless the potential has an ‘accomplishments’ section on their resume a mile long. And, of course, two sales managers in slightly different situations may have entirely different criteria for a hire.

Here are a few ways smart sales managers weed out the herd and find the best talent their companies’ dollars can buy:

Slow and Steady

Don’t blow through the early stages of the hiring process, no matter how desperate you may be for a skilled salesperson. Planning ahead saves sales managers time and money in the long run; if you end up with a pool of unsatisfactory potentials to weed through and come up with nothing for your time, that’s a waste. If you settle for one of those unfortunate potentials, that’s even worse.

Figure out what you need and carefully pre-screen. What you need-not a magic wishlist, not a generic list of useful traits and skills you don’t really understand, but what you truly need in a hire. Bloating your expectations will at best drag out the hiring process-at worst, you’ll accidentally filter out every honest potential in your pool and end up with those willing to lie for the job.

Understanding Experience

No years, four years at IBM, twenty years at some company you’ve never heard of-smart sales managers consider the nuance of a potential hire’s experience, not just the number of years and the pedigree of the company. A genius at selling for IBM may be completely unequipped for selling at a startup-and he’ll cost you an arm and a leg despite his weaknesses.

If you have the time and resources to train up a fresh graduate, don’t write them off – sales managers using a careful screening process can net extreme talent at a good price, talent with a better understanding of newer technology, a ‘learning mentality’ still ingrained, and no ingrained habits from prior workplaces. Just remember you’re making a gamble and decide accordingly; nothing matches the certainty of someone with years of success in a company similar to your own.

Know the Traits to Look For

Harvard Business School came up with this list after a study of top sellers; certainly something for smart sales managers to pay mind to:

  • Accepts responsibility for their results
  • Goal oriented
  • Above-average ambition
  • Self-disciplined
  • Can approach strangers even when doing so is uncomfortable
  • Empathic towards customers
  • Honest
  • Doesn’t take no for an answer

Questions to Consider

We’ll leave you sales managers with some questions to ask which may help you whittle down your applicants (not all will apply to every applicant or position, so think of some of your own!):

  • At your last company, were quotas or other metrics used to measure sales?
  • Did you meet your quotas? Why?
  • Do you consider yourself better at sourcing or closing deals?
  • How did you find leads? Are you more comfortable using existing channels or developing your own?
  • How do you organize yourself? Do you keep any personal metrics or use any special tools to keep track of your success rate?

A few ‘sample sales’ questions related to your particular industry and product will help too-think carefully about them and have a general idea of what an acceptable answer should look like.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.