Hiring Tips

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Sales Leader

How to Find the Right Sales Leader, The First Time

To be a successful CEO, you need to hire sales leaders who are hungry for growth, willing to learn, know how to manage a team, and who understand the processes that need to be in place for your sales team to succeed. 

Whether you call this person a sales manager, director of sales, or something else, they are responsible for planning and managing all aspects of your company’s sales operations while growing your sales team.  

A great sales leader will make or break your sales team…and your prospect pipeline…and your revenue goals…

Without the right person in this crucial role, you face an uphill battle to generate the kind of revenue and sales growth you desire.

Here’s why you need to find the best sales leaders…and how to do it.

Your Sales Leader must have strong DNA that supports your company’s process.

People who succeed in sales are generally high performers. They possess certain characteristics, such as self-confidence, persistence, the ability to overcome obstacles, and the desire to win. 

They must be a successful salesperson before they can become the leader of a sales team. You need a sales leader with a sales background and the knowledge, skill, and ability to coach and train others to sell.  

When it comes to a field as highly complex as sales, you can’t effectively manage what you don’t already know and fully understand

Hiring someone without a proven track record of building and managing successful sales teams not only sets them up to fail as your sales leader, it sets the stage for the entire team to struggle under ineffective leadership.

One caveat: a common mistake we see is companies who simply elevate their top-performing sales rep to the position of sales leader. It seems to make sense on the surface: they know sales, they know the company. Slam dunk…right?!

As you’ll see below, there’s a huge reason you shouldn’t automatically decide your best sales rep could be your next sales manager…

This should be a management-only role.

While you need someone who understands sales, you also need someone who can focus more on the “leader” than on the “sales” part of their title. 

If you make or allow them to do both, chances are good they’ll suck at one or the other…and from our experience, they’ll struggle to fully perform both duties well.

Your sales manager should never be directly responsible for closing sales or doing any actual selling. 

While it can be tempting to “promote” your best sales rep to the sales manager position, be certain before you make the switch that they are comfortable no longer being a sales rep and closing deals. Often, they want to do one more than the other.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to lead a successful sales team and be a part of that sales team, while performing all the necessary duties. Something has to fall through the cracks, and it’s usually the team’s numbers and development.

Your sales leader’s primary role is to manage the sales team. You need to make sure whomever you hire shares that goal and is interested in helping the team win. 

They should have the skillset to support others to succeed.

Being a sales leader isn’t just about making money or growing a business: it’s about building and growing a team. The ideal candidate needs to have empathy for those who might need a helping hand, and the willingness to support their sales staff to excel. 

The most successful leaders are committed to helping others achieve their goals, and will actively seek out ways to coach their teams to even higher levels of success. They know how to get buy-in and create motivation for their teams, and are adept at holding others accountable.

Helping salespeople understand concepts they struggle with is a large factor in the success of any sales team. Your sales leader should be able to confidently coach their team so that they can understand and effectively utilize training information. This includes understanding various learning styles and the willingness to create a personalized approach when necessary.

Another key part of an effective sales leader’s role is to properly hire the right sales reps, and onboard them with an efficient and comprehensive process. Ensuring a consistent and reliable flow of communication between the sales team, the C-suite, and HR is an integral part of their job…priority should be placed on their ability to perform this crucial task.

In conclusion

If you’re hiring a new sales leader, pay close attention to the candidates you interview. Take note of the sales accomplishments listed on their resume, and try to get an understanding of their managerial and team-building style. 

Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because someone has a certain resume profile, they’ll be a good fit for the sales leader role. There are some critical questions to consider:

  • Do they have the DNA to manage, and a proven sales background?
  • Have they been successful in your current business cycle?
  • Are they willing to give up selling to support the sales team and build it into something great?
  • How do they go about managing a sales team?

Do your research. Learn about the candidate’s experience. And, above all, make a decision based on evidence and data, not personality.

If you’re looking for the right sales leader, we can help with that…contact us for a 30-minute consultation of your business’ needs and current hiring process. 

We’ll evaluate your current situation and determine where you may be making critical (and costly!) mistakes. There’s a better way to hire sales professionals, and Improve Growth’s data-driven approach is it!

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