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A new sales manager is often seen as your opportunity to achieve growth, but gaining a commitment to delivering growth is not where you need to be focusing your attention.

Every sales manager you interview will give you a growth commitment; it is how they get jobs in many companies.

Hiring sales managers goes a lot deeper than just getting the growth commitment. The focus must be on how they are going to deliver the growth. This is when the talents of a sales manager start to unravel for many.

There are critical areas they must know about if they are to excel in your company. In the research paper undertaken by Sales Focus International, we were able to identify six levels of talent in sales managers and the factors that contribute to them being successful. This research is documented in “Building the Most Effective Sales Force in the World” by Adele Crane.

These are the critical factors that contribute to your desired output of growth; and of course profitability.

Management Style There are many different types of management styles applied by sales managers and most often you will hear it is about autonomy. Allowing people to excel in their role and being available for them when needed. If you want to grow your business, this is the style that will single handedly ruin your business. It is a style that is suitable for companies with market dominance and no competitors, and there are not many like that anymore.

High-performance sales teams are managed in performance management. They are the managers that can take average performers and create good to top performers. They understand how to coach and guide people and provide them with the structures and tools to excel in their role.

Through the interview process, you must identify the sales manager’s management style they will rely on to deliver results.

Recruitment ExperienceIf you are hiring a sales manager, you are expecting them to build and manage a sales team. Their ability to build a high-performance team has a direct cost to your company. Hiring and retaining salespeople is both risky and costly. The ideal candidate for your sales manager role must have a methodology for hiring quality candidates. A process for on-boarding to ensure new hires are efficient in the shortest possible timeframe. Bad hires kill the bottom-line, but so do unproductive sales people.

An essential skill that the sales manager will possess is the development of a process to screen and “on-board” new sales team members and manage out non-performers.

Selling Process For any sales team to excel they need to have consistent performance. This can only happen if a defined selling process has been established for all the salespeople to follow. It is not about just one or two top performers; it is about all the team performing.

This translates into another key benefit that is scalability. Your company’s ability to achieve growth resides in the leader’s capability to resource tools that assist in building a selling process that leads the entire team to perform.

Metric Management If the sales manager cannot articulate the measurements, they will be using on the team at interview, then progress no further. What you will hear from every candidate interviewed is they focus on revenue and margin, and so they should. What you need to hear is how they will manage all the drivers that build a business.

You want to hear about the dashboard of measurements they apply to coach the performance of the team. The metrics that provide them with immediate information of someone not performing that lead to lower results. What actions they take on review of those metrics.

The key is to understand how the sales manager uses metrics to develop, manage, and grow their sales team.

New Business Acquisition This is often a deal breaker in interviews. There are many sales managers who have the experience to manage a team working on existing accounts. Teams that nurture customers and protect those accounts. However, what about new business? If they do not have a process for developing new business that is proven, repeatable and transferable to the team, then it is just not going to happen for you.

You need to explore this area carefully.

Compensation Planning Sales compensation plans must be designed to reinforce the behaviours that were developed for successful selling in your company. Where a compensation plan is a proportionate share of the actual income (not just an end of year bonus), it demonstrates to salespeople where to focus their efforts.

Poorly designed plans can tank the company; the right plan can lead to explosive results. You need to understand how they develop compensation plans and the rules they apply to them.

The bottom line is if you are hiring a sales manager, and you are not from a sales background, it can be fraught with danger. They can be masters of deception, incomplete statements and the ability to divert your attention from their inabilities.

Adele Crane has an unprecedented view of sales manager performance that delivers results. We can assist you in finding the right person that will be a game changer in your sales organisation. Please reach out and contact our office to discuss your specific requirements.

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