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Difficulties in Hiring a Sales Manager

January 31, 2016

There is no more critical position that Sales Manager in an organization.  Make a bad hire here and it will take at least 2 years to recover.   I recently participated in a benchmarking process with my friend and colleague Diana Gats of VPT Enterprise.  Diana is a growth Specialist and Business Advisor.

It was an interesting exercise in that what my expectations of a Sales Manager were and what the clients were somewhat different.  I understand the need in many small businesses the need to have a Sales Manager that has key accounts.  The Sales Manager does not have to be the top Salesperson to demand respect and accountability.  I feel that by Sales Managers calling on accounts it deters them from doing the key responsibilities and skills needed to run an effective Sales Organization.

From my perspective the 9 top key priorities of a Sales Manager are as follows:

  • Coaching and collaborating – Will your new Sales Manager be able to utilize the established sales people’s background, knowledge, and relationships effectively. Or, will their style turn off your top performers.  It’s not easy coming into an established sales organization and setting a new path.
  • Holding people accountability – Another Blog I wrote Creating an Accountability Sales Culture is critical in hiring a Sales Manager. Accountability starts with the Sales Manager.  If he/she cannot demonstrate to you when hiring that they have self-accountability, how can they hold sales people accountable.   Following up is a critical skill and characteristic.
  • Keeping the Sales People Positive – NO one doubts the difficulty of selling. If you are doing your job, you may be getting more no’s then yesses.  When sales people become negative they easily translate to the customer even when they think they don’t.  They are your face to the customer.  If they do not feel like they are being supported or are being constantly harangued, then they get worse not better.  Sales Managers must always find ways to make the sales people better and in that way more positive about the company and themselves.
  • Understand the Financials – I laugh when I see business owners not wanting to share at least some of the financial information with Sales Managers. Then one hears the complaint that they those damn sales people only sell on price.  A Sales Manager must understand the whole picture not just sales and marketing.
  • Managing the Sales Process – You already have spent money on a CRM that is supposed to increase your sales but has become a data dump. Either you did not have a Sales Process to begin with or no one is managing it.  This is where sales are really lost, or prolonged.  Of course, following rules goes against the normal high flying sales person.  This means that the Sales Manager has to be creative in bringing everybody on board and show how it is important and helpful for the sales person to follow the process.
  • Shortening the Sales Cycle and the Sales Process – You cannot shorten the cycle if you do not have a clear understanding of the process. Making it easier and quicker for everyone involved is important for the Sales Manager to help the sales people and the company.
  • Embracing Technology – To many Sales Managers are living in the past. Technology is your friend and can help accelerate the many processes or pricing, communication, and minimize mistakes.
  • Ability to hire and attract top sales talent – What is going to attract new top talent to your company if the Sales Manager doesn’t have this innate skill.
  • On-Boarding New Sales Representatives – Can the Sales Manager put together a detailed agenda for a new hire, and make sure there is an understanding of the company culture, why buy from the company.

Notice that none of these are experience in the industry or relationships.  These are short lived values which you may or may not get benefit from in the first year, but beyond that and for the sake of the sales people hire for these skills, motivation, and how well they fit in your culture.

I hope this has been helpful and gives you some further thoughts.  If you would like to comment, please join the conversation, e-mail me, or just pick up the phone and call.

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