You may have a lot of questions when looking to recruit a sales manager. Hiring leaders to run an existing sales team doesn’t feel the same as hiring someone at an entry-level position.
There are plenty of companies that try and avoid this issue entirely by almost exclusively promoting from within. But, if you don’t have the right candidate in your ranks, this can be a bad idea. So how do you approach an outside hire?
What hiring questions do you ask? What kind of experience do you look for? How can you tell if someone is a good fit to lead your existing team?
These are all great questions to ask. In this post, we’re going to highlight 3 things you should check off your list when hiring a sales manager from outside your company.
#1: Check Your Existing Team
Before you look for someone who can lead your sales team well, it’s important to have a look at the team and make sure that it’s being organized and run efficiently. You want to set a new leader up for success, after all!
First, check your team’s size. How many layers of authority are present?
Are there junior reps, senior reps, team leads, supervisors, assistant sales managers? Who answers to who? How many cooks are in the leadership kitchen?
Oftentimes, companies can have too many layers of authority. The team is so big that nothing gets done efficiently. It may need to be pared down to be effective.
Another issue that can arise is that the layers of authority are unclear. Does everybody on the team know who answers to who… and when? If not, the chain of command may need to be clarified before you bring in a new leader.
Speaking of leaders, be sure to take into account the last leader that the team experienced. Was that sales manager let go? Or perhaps demoted to a position where they would now be under the new, outside hire? How does the team feel about the situation?
All of these are important factors in determining the success of the next sales manager. If there’s resentment or anger regarding the last leader, the time to handle that is before you hire their replacement, not after. Follow a good recruiting process!
#2: Check The Candidate’s Experience
There are a few different types of experience that a sales leader can bring to the table. Some of them are worth keeping an eye on– others not so much.
What shouldn’t you look for?
When you’re checking a candidate’s experience, do NOT look for how many years they have in your industry.
Here’s the thing: it’s always tempting to give weight to somebody who has been a success in your industry. It’s a natural inclination. But there’s very little correlation between past industry success and the ability to to it in new circumstances.
When Coach Steve Mariucci took over at the Detroit Lions in the mid 2000s, Lions fans were excited to see the same level of success that he’d had in the past with the San Francisco 49ers. However, if you talk to any Detroit Lions fans, you’ll discover that success never carried over the way they’d hoped.
It’s the same with sales managers: every organization has a different set of challenges and opportunities. Someone may be suited to one, and not another.
Looking to past experience in your industry, or even past experience as a top sales performer, is a bad indicator for how they will succeed with your team.
What should you look for?
Look for experience in leadership… not managing.
Managers make sure everyone follows the rules. They execute processes according to procedure. They reward and discipline their employees according to those procedures and statutes and keep things moving “by the book.”
They keep the trains running on time, but they’re incapable of realizing when a team is off-track.
Instead, look for experience in real leadership. Leaders still execute, they still run things, but they do so with long-term success in mind.
Leaders don’t just follow the rules, they look at how the team is functioning and how they can improve.
Leaders don’t just reward and discipline, they get into the trenches with their employees. They mentor. They empower. They help. They act as a servant-leader.
Look for evidence that the candidate acts in these ways, and you will have evidence that they may have the skills to be the sales leader your company needs.
Need recruiting help? Choosing a professional sales recruiter may be the key to securing a top-notch sales team. Contact EAM Staffing to learn how we can help find the right fit for your organization.
#3: Check The Candidate For Fit
Don’t glaze over on this one. You may be interviewing the greatest sales manager of your generation… but if they’re a bad fit for your organization, they’re still a bad fit.
Think about the culture of your company. And the culture of the sales team in particular. Think about where you’ve been. Where you are. Where you’re going.
How does this candidate fall in line with that vision? Do they fit?
Do they have a plan for how they would move forward in the position? Does that plan fit with the company culture and vision?
To find out, ask the candidate questions about their previous adversity. What challenges have they faced in the past? How did they respond to those challenges? How did they overcome?
Chances are, how they’ve reacted to adversity in the past will be similar to how they will respond in the future. Analyze their response and determine whether that’s a good trait for your next sales team leader.
Ask them about how they intend to deal with team members who aren’t receptive to change. You don’t want a new leader to flip your team around 100% without taking into consideration what is working.
At the same time, you need a candidate that would be able to identify what needs to be changed in the pursuit of success, and can get the whole team on board for those changes. A good leader needs to be able to identify who is on the bus when it comes to those crucial changes, and who isn’t. And then they need to either shuffle the seats around on that bus, or kick the disruptive folks off the bus entirely.
If your candidate has a track record of acting like a leader, they are a good fit for your organization, and have a solid plan for how to succeed in the role, you might just have a new sales team leader.
If you’re having trouble… that’s okay. That’s what a sales recruiter is for!