A common misconception is that the best place to look for great sales managers is in the ranks of great salespeople. That’s not necessarily true.
Here are 8 things to look for when hiring top sales managers:
1. Management Skill
A great salesperson can sometimes become a great sales manager, but it’s not always the case. When you’re looking to hire better sales managers, you’re not looking to hire someone who can close sales – you’re looking for someone who can manage your sales team, and that requires two different skills sets. Managing different personalities requires a delicate touch, someone who can get along with a lot of different types of people. They don’t have to be everyone’s friend – in fact, you don’t want them to be too friendly with everyone – but they should possess the capability of being cordial with a broad spectrum of people.
2. Current Skills
In the 2.0 sales world, where metrics are critical and the web plays an enormous role in the sales cycle, a successful sales manager needs to be metrics-oriented and web savvy.
3. Marketing Savvy
Does your sales manager understand the importance of inbound marketing? That’s advertising that a company puts out in the form of original content marketing, for example podcasts, blogs, video, white papers, and e-books. These attract web traffic from potential prospects which you can convert into leads. While lead gen is typically the responsibility of the marketing head, it helps when the sales manager understands marketing, shares insights on key customer buying habits and takes an active role in the development of the company branding strategy and design of these online tools.
4. Ability to Manage the Organization
A great sales manager knows how to manage up and down. In other words, they pay attention to the people they manage as much (if not more) than they focus on impressing their superiors.
A great sales manager needs to have vision. They need to know their product, yes, but they also need to know the market and where the product fits. Who needs the product? Where will it sell the best? Who is the competition and what can the manager learn from the competition? A great sales manager should have detailed responses to all these questions.
6. Process Oriented
Today more than ever before, sales is a science, where we study customer behavior and map out best practices for sales activities. If you’re looking to hire a better sales manager, you’ll want to know what selling systems and methodologies they will envision for your company. What systems will be put in place to ensure that reps engage prospects in the most efficient possible ways?
7. Hiring Ability
If you’re hiring a sales manager, you have to trust their taste. Not in food, but in talent. Do they recognize and recruit talented employees? What’s their track record? Can they replicate those employment decisions for your company? Are they willing to think outside the box? Are they disciplined enough to think outside the box without making unwise hires?
8. Coach & Cheerleader
Can the sales manager create an environment where the reps are set up to succeed? Can the sales manager provide the necessary coaching and encouragement to get the most out of the reps on the team? These are critical elements of creating a winning culture.
Understanding sales is a big part of sales management, but understanding the difference between sales and sales management goes a long way to selecting better sales managers.
Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.
He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
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