How to Hire a Sales Manager
by Bill Radin
There’s more to the job of “Sales Manager” than meets the eye. And if you hire the wrong person, you’ll waste a lot of time and money.
By focusing on key aspects of the role, you’ll more accurately identify the most suitable candidates. Here are four of the most important criteria:
First, there’s cash flow. If paying bills is an immediate concern, it might make sense to hire someone who can bring a “book” of business or leverage an existing customer base to boost near-term sales revenues. An experienced manager will also look for ways to cut costs, collect on receivables or adjust compensation plans.
Next, consider your sales channels. Do you sell directly to your customers, or through third parties, such as manufacturers’ reps or distributors? A manager with experience in various types of channels should be able to spot inefficiencies in your current model and capitalize on new opportunities.
A third consideration: Customers. Is your company responsive to customer inquiries? Do you provide support, service and delivery in a superior manner? If not, you’ll need a more customer-centric manager to correct these deficiencies. Perhaps your CRM needs an overhaul. A robust lead-generation and tracking system not only puts money in your pocket, it keeps your customers in the loop.
Finally, there’s Leadership. Think of your sales force as an army. If it’s well-trained, well-equipped and highly motivated, you’ll be in a stronger position to win the battle of market share. A strong leader will demonstrate a willingness to do the tough jobs, get his or her hands dirty and make difficult choices.
In addition, an exemplary leader will:
Make sales calls at the local level with regional managers;
Replace or re-assign underperforming reps, distributors or direct sales people;
Help customers make purchases with creative financing options;
Provide sales training and professional development; and
Pass along comments on product quality or ideas for improvement to the engineering, manufacturing or marketing staff.
A sales manager is expected to bring a high level of intensity to the job that will “turn up the heat” and rally a sluggish team. Weak managers allow poor morale and negativity to act as a cancer, while strong leaders make certain the negativity is surgically removed.
By seeking these qualities in a candidate, you’ll be one step ahead in your quest for the perfect sales manager.