Finding the right Sales Director or Sales Manager for your business can be difficult. The job market is incredibly competitive at the moment, especially for experienced salespeople. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the US unemployment rate for sales and related occupations in March 2017 was the lowest since December 2000, over 16 years ago.
This means that the top talent get snatched up before you know it. You need to make sure that you can secure yourself the right talent before someone else does. But don’t be disheartened, you can make sure you still find the person you’re looking for, you just need to consider the recruitment process.
Here’s some things to consider when recruiting for a Sales Director or Manager position that could make your hiring process go a lot smoother.
An inefficient talent search can end up wasting your time if you’re not looking for the right people. This means that you could lose top talent to another business, or that your perfect candidate might go unnoticed entirely. Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind when looking for your next Sales Director / Manager.
An individual’s current role can tell you a lot about their skills, experience, and adaptability. Consider what the potential client is currently involved in. How similar is their current role to the role you want to place?
Remember, recruiting someone from the same sector or from a similar role can save time training, and may indicate that the candidate will ease into the role quickly. However, try not to exclude candidates just because they work in a different sector. Skills are often transferable, and just because a candidate may not have much experience in your sector, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t suited for the role.
It’s also worth noting that recruiting a new Sales Manager often isn’t as simple as just giving the job to the best salesperson. Naturally, a director role requires management and leadership skills that can only be picked up through training and senior level experience. Just because someone is an excellent salesperson, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an excellent leader or manager.
Every office and company operates differently, especially when it comes to the workplace environment and culture. Before looking for candidates, consider where they will be working, who they will be working with, and in what capacity. Many businesses don’t account for workplace culture as much as they should, as choosing a candidate whose personality fits can make all the difference (you can help identify this using psychometric tests, which will be covered shortly).
Consider how many colleagues the Sales Director will be working with. Ask yourself how many people they will be working alongside, and how many they will be giving direction to. Someone who has only ever worked with 3-4 people may not be the right person to lead a team of 10-20, and vice versa.
This can be a huge factor in deciding who you are going to look for and shortlist. You may want to decide whether you are looking for individuals with potential, or those who already have all the skills and sector knowledge. Being open to providing training for recruits can broaden your pool of prospects, as it reduces the need to be overly specific in your talent search and miss out on potential outlying candidates.
Once you’ve done some research and narrowed down your candidates, it’s time to move on to the interviewing stage. It goes without saying that this stage is crucial to understanding whether a candidate is perfect for the job or not, and you’ve got to get the most value possible out of each interview. After all, arranging and conducting interviews can be very time-consuming. The following are a few strategies you might want to employ when conducting your Sales Director interviews.
If you have the time, it’s always a good idea to utilise a multi-stage interview process. The specifics of this depends on your preference, but generally it’s useful to meet prospects for at least two interviews, using a different format for each. This gives you a much more balanced and in-depth view on the candidate.
Often employers can make the mistake of being too rigid with their interviews. If you restrict your interviews to a basic question-answer format you might not get the most out of your candidate. You can often find out much more valuable information about them by trying to create discussions rather than simply questions and answers. This is especially important in sales roles, as it allows you to gauge an individual’s personality and communication skills, which are vital for successfully dealing with clients and leading and motivating colleagues.
As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to utilise different interview formats, especially if one of these is competency-based. What this means is to conduct part of your interview in a format that serves to measure the candidates technical merit rather than simply test their knowledge.
This will give candidates a chance to demonstrate their sales and management skills. There are numerous ways to test competency including group exercises, written/spoken tasks, and roleplaying. You can also ask candidates to describe specific experiences or give examples of times they have achieved something relevant.
One of the key skills you’ll want your Sales Director to have is the ability to analyse situations and react appropriately. Using role play and practice situations can be a great way to allow the candidate to demonstrate their abilities to you. You can conduct the role playing yourself during the interview, or set a task for candidates to carry out between themselves, it’s up to you.
We’ve touched upon creating discussion in interviews in order to know candidates more personally, however when deciding the overall interview format, you should consider standardisation. By using the same format for each candidate, you create a fair process that allows candidates equal opportunity to sell themselves to you. It’s also a good idea to use the same set of questions for at least part of the interview process, as doing this allows candidates answers to be directly compared.
Psychometric tests are a handy, standardised way of measuring your candidate’s personality and ability. By using personality tests during the interviewing or shortlisting phase you can gain insight into your candidate’s thought process, preferences, and behaviour.
You can also use linguistic and numerical reasoning tests to measure their verbal and mathematical abilities, which are essential for the sales director role.
Before conducting these tests, it’s useful to think about what type of results you are looking for. For example, what type of personality is right for your office or role? Have any other employees taken psychometric tests, and if so how do their results compare?
We’re Here to Help
Senior level sales executives are in high demand, so if you want to find the perfect candidate, be thorough in the searching and interviewing process. You may also consider using a headhunting service to find the right candidate. Headhunting agencies can be a great aid as they know exactly what to look for and where to look, and can save you time and money by handling the whole process for you.
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