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How To Effectively Hire Your Company's First Sales Manager?

Unlock success by learning how to effectively hire your company's first sales manager. Navigate the hiring process strategically with key insights and considerations for building a high-performing sales team.

Feb 07, 202417.2K Shares236.9K ViewsWritten By: Alastair MartinReviewed By: James Smith
Jump to
  1. What Is A Sales Manager?
  2. Hard Skills For A Sales Manager
  3. Soft Skills Of A Sales Manager
  4. The Qualities You Will Want In A Sales Manager
  5. Do I Need To Hire A Sales Manager?
  6. What Makes A Great Sales Manager?
  7. How To Assess The Skills Of Your Next Sales Manager?
  8. Tips For Before You Start Hiring
  9. Sales Manager Interview Questions
  10. Where To Find A Sales Manager?
  11. How Much Does A Sales Manager Cost?
  12. Frequently Asked Questions
  13. Final Words
How To Effectively Hire Your Company's First Sales Manager?

In the dynamic landscape of businessgrowth, hiring the right sales manager is akin to securing the rudder that steers the ship to success. The first sales manager sets the tone for your company's sales culture, shapes strategies, and leads the charge toward revenue goals. In this guide, we will delve into the key steps and considerations on how toeffectively hire your company's first sales manager, ensuring a foundation for sustained growth and prosperity. This pivotal hire demands a strategic approach, careful consideration, and a clear understanding of the unique skills required to navigate the challenges of sales leadership.

What Is A Sales Manager?

A sales manager assumes a multifaceted role, spearheading, guiding, and uplifting a team of sales representatives to consistently surpass sales quotas. Success in this pivotal position demands an intimate knowledge of diverse sales processes, negotiation tactics, and a proven track record of successful deals. Effective sales leaders go beyond immediate goals, investing in the future of their team, and empowering members to enhance their skills.

Adaptability is a hallmark trait, as the adept sales manager tailors their approach to resonate with each team member, recognizing that motivation comes in various forms. Furthermore, collaboration with marketing and customer support is integral, fostering a symbiotic exchange of information to gain profound insights into customer needs and streamline businessprocesses.

A proficient sales manager goes the extra mile by preparing detailed reports and providing marketing teams with unique sales conversations and hidden insights, thereby enabling a more impactful messaging strategy.

Hard Skills For A Sales Manager

A man with a phone on his ears and laptop in front of him
A man with a phone on his ears and laptop in front of him

When evaluating candidates for this pivotal role, employing skills tests can help ascertain their proficiency in essential hard skills. During interviews, delve into detailed discussions about their technical competencies, ensuring a thorough understanding of their capabilities.

Consider the following core hard skills that set exceptional sales managers apart, and seek candidates with a proven track record to substantiate these skills:

  • Developing Sales Plans, Strategies, and Processes - A seasoned sales manager should showcase extensive experience in crafting high-level sales strategies and fine-tuning specific sales processes tailored to your product and target audience. Look for proficiency in diverse sales frameworks, such as the challenger sales model, solution selling, or the impactful SPIN selling strategy, which prioritizes understanding the customer's buying process.
  • In-Depth Knowledge of Product or Industry - Elevate your sales team beyond mere transactional interactions by nurturing them into trusted advisors. A skilled sales leader understands the shift from selling a solution to building meaningful customer relationships. They should possess a deep understanding of your industry and competitive landscape. While external hires may not grasp your specific offerings immediately, substantial experience in your niche provides a valuable advantage.
  • Sales Analytics and Forecasting - Recognizing that sales are inherently a numbers game, your future sales manager should excel at harnessing the power of AI-driven solutions for insightful performance analysis and identifying growth opportunities. Effective goal-setting and forecasting should be second nature to them. Seek a candidate who goes beyond gut feelings, opting for a data-driven approach to decision-making, and constantly exploring new technologies to enhance analysis and improve results.

Soft Skills Of A Sales Manager

The unique personality traits and work approach of candidates play a pivotal role in determining their effectiveness as leaders of your sales team or department. Moreover, these soft skills are often the linchpin in converting key accounts and retaining critical customers who teeter on the edge of decision-making.

  • Empathy and Active Listening -A stellar sales manager exudes empathy, extending it to both internal colleagues and external partners. A natural leader adeptly identifies bottlenecks and pain points, crafting solutions that align with the diverse needs of all involved. Active listening is a non-negotiable skill, enabling them to discern the lay of the land rather than imposing their agenda. This empathetic approach not only fosters a positive work environment but also proves critical in customer interactions.
  • Time Management and Delegation -Delve into candidates' abilities to manage schedules and balance a multitude of responsibilities. An expert sales manager excels in swiftly delegating tasks to junior team members without succumbing to micromanagement. Recognizing the fast-paced nature of the role, inquire about their strategies for prioritizing tasks, carving out time for focused work, and effectively assigning responsibilities to team members. Time management and adept delegation are the cornerstones of a productive sales manager.
  • Sales Leadership - A prospective sales manager must exhibit the prowess to lead, inspire, and coach both new entrants and existing team members. Effective leadership involves identifying low-hanging fruit when seeking to enhance team performance and address bottlenecks. This strategic approach yields quick results, fostering team morale and efficiency. A successful sales manager keenly observes the strategies employed by top-performing sales reps, offering specific examples to the team. Providing social recognition to high achievers not only fuels their motivation but also inspires others to emulate successful strategies.

The Qualities You Will Want In A Sales Manager

A woman wearing a black coat while holding a laptop
A woman wearing a black coat while holding a laptop

According to LinkedIn, a sales manager's role encompasses the hiring and motivation of high-performing sales teams, guiding them in lead generation, surpassing revenue forecasts, and addressing customer needs.

While proficiency in understanding the products and services offered is fundamental, top-performing sales managers go beyond mere sales mechanics. They exhibit qualities that transcend transactional expertise, embodying the essence of great leaders and mentors.

Comprehensive Product Understanding

Exceptional sales managers possess an in-depth understanding of the products and services offered by their company. This extends beyond surface-level knowledge, allowing them to effectively communicate the value proposition to both their team and potential customers.

Deal-Closing Proficiency

A propensity for closing deals is a hallmark of top-performing sales managers. They comprehend the intricacies of the sales process, from cultivating initial interest to guiding prospects toward decisive action. Their strategic approach to deal closure ensures consistent revenue generation.

Leadership And Mentorship

Beyond sales mechanics, effective sales managers are distinguished by their leadership prowess. They not only guide but inspire their sales teams. The ability to teach and mentor salespeople sets them apart, enabling the team to navigate customer concerns adeptly and close deals with confidence.

Customer-Centric Approach

Great sales managers prioritize customer needs, aligning their teams to deliver solutions that exceed expectations. This customer-centric focus not only fosters loyalty but also contributes to sustained business growth.

Goal-Oriented Team Leadership

The ultimate objective of a sales manager is to lead a team that not only meets but consistently exceeds customer acquisition targets and profit goals. Their leadership is goal-oriented, emphasizing continuous improvement and strategic approaches to augment both customer base and profitability.

Do I Need To Hire A Sales Manager?

If you find yourself in a contemplative stance, wavering on the decision to hire a sales manager, consider this a pivotal moment in your business journey.

In the words of renowned sales coach Colleen Francis, the initial responsibility of any startup CEO is to spearhead sales. However, as a company evolves and scales, the CEO's role must shift from the hands-on management of daily sales activities to the strategic endeavors of building awareness and fostering relationships in the boardroom.

The hesitancy many founders feel about entrusting a pivotal process affecting both revenue and brand perception to a new figure is understandable. Yet, this transition is not just beneficial; it is imperative for the growth of your business.

The appointment of a sales manager becomes a strategic move, a crucial step towards amplifying sales and propelling your business to new heights. In essence, if your goal is to witness a surge in sales, the answer becomes clear - you need to hire a sales manager.

What Makes A Great Sales Manager?

A man in black coat with television with graphs behind him
A man in black coat with television with graphs behind him

While the intricacies of success may vary, certain characteristics universally define a great sales manager - and they extend beyond the realm of selling proficiency.

Certainly, a robust sales background is foundational, but a stellar sales manager must possess a spectrum of skills and experiences:

Recruitment Acumen

Exceptional sales managers not only lead existing teams but also exhibit prowess in recruiting top-notch sales talent. Recognizing the transient nature of sales teams, they adeptly manage external recruiters, navigate the hiring landscape, and discern the qualities that sustain a robust and harmonious team. Their foresight ensures a perpetually strong and balanced sales force.

Decision-Making And Critical Thinking

Leadership roles demand more than intuition or gut feelings. Successful sales managers are adept at critical thinking, articulating their thought processes effectively among stakeholders. From estimating outcomes for budget approvals to justifying decisions across various organizational levels, they navigate bureaucratic layers with finesse. This ability ensures that their teams receive the necessary resources for optimal performance.

Management Expertise

Proficiency in managing others is a prerequisite for any effective manager. Whether promoting from within or entrusting an outlier with a leadership role, prior experience in organizing groups of people is non-negotiable. Without a proven track record or confidence in their ability to bridge knowledge gaps, the risk of managerial ineffectiveness looms large.

Coaching Prowess

The hallmark of top-tier sales managers lies not just in effective management but in continuous team improvement. They go beyond oversight, actively enhancing the capabilities of their team.

How To Assess The Skills Of Your Next Sales Manager?

Selecting the right manager is a challenging undertaking, but there are methods to streamline the hiring process effectively.

One optimal approach is integrating pre-employment assessments, potentially replacing traditional resume screening. This method allows for a swift and impartial evaluation of your next sales manager's skills, free from the influence of unconscious biases.

For instance, utilizing TestGorillapermits the amalgamation of up to five skills tests to pinpoint high-potential candidates. By perusing our test library, you can select assessments tailored to the specific requirements of the role you are hiring for, or refer to our recommendations below:

  • Account Executive for B2B Sales-Conduct a 10-minute test to identify candidates adept at managing intricate B2B salesprocesses. This test evaluates hands-on sales experience by assessing the candidate's proficiency in creating presentations, preparing proposals, closing deals, and gauging emotional intelligence and creative sales approaches.
  • Communication Skills -Utilize this test to gauge candidates' proficiency in active listening, summarizing information, and seeking clarifications. Strong results in this assessment indicate a solid grasp of business etiquette, an ability to discern verbal and non-verbal cues and effective conflict resolution - a crucial skill for leaders aligning goals across their teams.
  • Culture Add -Aligning your sales manager with your company's values significantly impacts team performance. By completing a survey to define your company's culture, this test identifies candidates in harmony with your values and beliefs.
  • Leadership and People Management -Assess candidates' leadership skills using this test, evaluating their capacity to guide and influence others for growth within the team.
  • Software Proficiency (Salesforce CRM or HubSpot CRM) -If your team utilizes a CRM platform like Salesforce or HubSpot, this test identifies candidates proficient in these tools. While specific software experience is beneficial, the best managers exhibit a willingness to learn and efficiently adapt to new technologies.

Tips For Before You Start Hiring

Before delving into the hiring process for a sales manager, it's crucial to lay the groundwork for success. Consider these enhanced tips to ensure a strategic and effective approach:

Start With Outcomes

Begin by clearly defining the outcomes you expect from your new sales manager. Articulate the results they need to achieve, taking into account their areas of responsibility, expected achievements, and the anticipated evolution of the role in the future.

Determine if they are tasked with building a team, managing ongoing growth, or directly contributing to revenue growth. This clarity forms the foundation for identifying candidates who align with your specific needs and can deliver the desired results.

Talk About Money Early

Establishing the compensation package early in the process is paramount. While it doesn't need to be precise, setting limits and expectations regarding salary range, benefits, and performance-related elements is essential.

Recognize that top talent comes at a premium, especially in sales, and aligning compensation with expected outcomes ensures a realistic investment in the role. This approach aids in attracting high-caliber candidates and streamlining the selection process.

Hire From Within

Consider internal candidates for the sales manager role, particularly if rapid scaling isn't a primary objective. Established sales teams within larger enterprises often harbor capable individuals familiar with your processes and pipeline.

Internal promotions not only come at a cost advantage but also foster motivation and engagement across the organization. Assessing existing talent can unveil leaders who understand the company culture and possess the potential to excel in a managerial role.

Tap Into Your Company's Network

Leverage your company's network as a valuable resource for identifying potential candidates. Employee referrals, especially from the sales team, contribute to enhanced employee retention.

Recommendations from colleagues carry weight, as employees are likely to endorse individuals with whom they enjoy working. While navigating potential dynamics is essential, the benefits of a recommended candidate often outweigh any challenges, fostering a positive and collaborative work environment.

Sales Manager Interview Questions

A man wearing a white coat shaking hands with another person
A man wearing a white coat shaking hands with another person

We recommend employing structured interviews to maintain consistency, ensuring that all applicants are evaluated based on the same set of questions in the same sequence. This approach minimizes bias, allowing for an objective comparison of candidates.

Recognizing the significance of both soft skills and core competencies in sales management, here are enhanced and additional interview questions to comprehensively evaluate your candidates:

  • Can you describe a specific instance when you successfully managed a conflict within your sales team? How did you approach and resolve the situation?
  • If you observe a decline in the performance of your top salesperson, what steps would you take to address the situation and revitalize their performance?
  • How do you handle negative feedback related to your team's overall performance, and what strategies do you employ to address areas of improvement?
  • During periods of slow sales, how do you uplift your team's morale and maintain motivation? Can you provide an example of a successful morale-boosting initiative you've implemented in the past?
  • What specific strategies do you employ to foster continuous growth and development within your sales team? Can you share a notable success story related to team development in your previous role?
  • In times of heightened workload, how do you prioritize and delegate tasks to ensure optimal efficiency and effectiveness within the team?
  • If faced with unrealistic sales targets set by your manager, how would you navigate and address the situation to ensure the best outcome for your team?
  • Describe a situation where you had to collaborate closely with other departments, such as marketing or customer service, to achieve a common goal. What was the outcome, and what role did you play in facilitating collaboration?
  • What sales frameworks are you most familiar with, and how have you applied them in your previous roles to achieve success?
  • How do you leverage data and analytics to enhance sales performance? Can you provide an example of a data-driven strategy that yielded positive results?
  • What is your approach to pipeline management, and how do you ensure a consistent and efficient flow throughout the sales process?
  • To what extent are you familiar with digital sales channels and tools, such as email campaigns, social selling, or webinars? Can you share instances where you successfully incorporated these channels into your sales strategy?
  • Discuss your approach to customer retention. How do you ensure long-term satisfaction and loyalty among your client base?
  • How do you structure a sales team's schedule to maximize efficiency and coverage, considering diverse time zones or market demands?
  • Outline your process for onboarding and training new sales representatives. How do you ensure a smooth and effective transition for new team members?

By incorporating these questions into your interview process, you can gain a more holistic understanding of each candidate's suitability for the demanding role of a sales manager.

Where To Find A Sales Manager?

Selecting the right sales manager is a critical decision that often prompts companies to explore a multifaceted approach, balancing internal promotions with external talent acquisition.

Internal Considerations

Many companies lean towards internal promotions for their sales manager roles, leveraging the advantage of candidates who are already acquainted with the intricacies of the business. While elevating a high-performing sales agent from within is a plausible option, it's crucial to ensure they possess the requisite skill set for leadership. Skills tests can be instrumental, offering an unbiased evaluation and providing every candidate, internal or external, with an equal opportunity to showcase their capabilities.

Lateral hiring, another internal avenue, involves sourcing candidates from different departments. This approach broadens the talent pool, bringing individuals with diverse skills and experiences into the sales management role. Essential attributes such as organizational skills, delegation prowess, leadership acumen, and the ability to manage key accounts - distinct from typical sales responsibilities - become pivotal considerations for success in this role.

External Channels

If the decision is made to hire externally, numerous channels can be tapped into to source top-tier sales manager candidates:

  • Job Platforms -Leverage popular job platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, or platforms like WellFound (formerly AngelList Talent) to reach a broad audience of potential candidates actively seeking new opportunities.
  • Recruitment Agencies -Engage with recruitment agencies specializing in sales or executive roles. These agencies often have a curated pool of seasoned professionals with a proven track record in sales leadership.
  • Referrals -Leverage the power of employee referrals and tap into your professional network for recommendations. Existing employees often have valuable insights into potential candidates who may be an excellent fit for the role.
  • Professional Associations -Explore professional associations such as the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) or the Sales Management Association. These platforms often serve as hubs for networking and can connect you with experienced sales managers.

Beyond conventional job postings, utilize LinkedIn for direct outreach to passive candidates within your industry. Engage in personalized communication, highlighting the unique opportunities your organization offers and enticing qualified individuals who may not actively be seeking new positions.

How Much Does A Sales Manager Cost?

A woman holding a phone on her ear and writing on a paper with laptop in front of her
A woman holding a phone on her ear and writing on a paper with laptop in front of her

According to Salary.com, the median annual salary for a sales manager in the United States stands at approximately $130,000, with variations typically spanning from $110,000 to $150,000. However, determining the precise salary to offer hinges on several pivotal factors:

  • Experience in Your Specific Niche -Tailoring compensation to the candidate's experience within your niche is paramount. A sales manager well-versed in the intricacies of your industry brings added value, potentially warranting a higher salary based on their domain expertise.
  • Additional Skills and Qualifications -Consideration of supplementary skills and qualifications is crucial. Proficiency in relevant technologies, emerging sales methodologies, or specific certifications may warrant an adjustment in the offered salary, reflecting the additional value these attributes bring to the role.
  • Sales and Management Track Record -The candidate's proven track record in both sales and management is a pivotal determinant. A robust history of achieving sales targets and effectively leading teams may justify a higher compensation package, reflecting the tangible impact they can make on your organization's success.
  • Type, Size, and Location of Your Company -The nature, size, and geographic location of your company significantly influence the salary range. In metropolitan areas with a higher cost of living, salaries may trend toward the upper end of the spectrum. Additionally, the scale and complexity of your company's operations contribute to the overall compensation consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Qualifications Are Essential For A Sales Manager Role?

Sales managers typically need a bachelor's degree, extensive sales experience, and a proven track record of success. Strong communication, leadership, and strategic thinking skills are also crucial.

How Do Sales Managers Motivate Their Teams?

Sales managers motivate teams through various strategies, including goal-setting, recognition programs, coaching, and fostering a positive and collaborative team culture. Understanding individual motivations is key to effective motivation.

What Are The Key Challenges Faced By Sales Managers?

Sales managers often grapple with challenges such as meeting revenue targets, managing diverse personalities within a team, adapting to market changes, and staying updated on evolving sales technologies and strategies.

Is Previous Sales Experience A Must For Becoming A Sales Manager?

While previous sales experience is beneficial, it's not always a strict requirement. Some companies value leadership and management skills more, and individuals from diverse backgrounds may transition into sales management roles with the right qualifications and aptitude.

How Can Companies Assess The Success Of A Sales Manager?

Success in a sales manager role is often measured by achieving sales targets, improving team performance, customer satisfaction, and effective collaboration with other departments. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and regular performance reviews contribute to this assessment.

Final Words

In the quest to hire your company's first sales manager, the journey involves careful consideration, strategic planning, and a keen understanding of the unique qualities required for success. From defining clear outcomes and determining a competitive compensation package to exploring internal talent and leveraging external networks, the process demands a holistic approach. The ideal sales manager embodies not only sales expertise but also leadership, mentorship, and a customer-centric mindset.

As you embark on this transformative hiring endeavor, the insights shared in this guide aim to empower you to make informed decisions, securing a sales manager who not only meets the immediate needs of your business but also contributes to its long-term success.

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