Your sales team needs a strong sales manager to lead them. You can’t just promote your best salesperson to the position either; they are two very different beasts. And just because someone makes a great salesperson doesn’t mean they are management material. Instead, follow these tips for finding and hiring a sales manager who will lead your sales team to success!

Traits to Look for in a Sales Manager

1. Expertise: You wouldn’t hire salesperson who has no sales experience, so don’t try to hire a sales manager who has no management experience. Obviously, some exceptions can be made for the right person with a strong professional background in a related field, but you generally want your potential sales managers to not only have a strong understanding of how to manage a team but an understanding of sales processes and your domain (the kinds of sales you are trying to make) as well.

2. Knowing how to recruit and develop A-team players:You not only want a quality individual to lead your sales team; you want your sales manager to be able to find, recruit, and build top salespeople as well. This can be both within your organization—maybe your sales manager has taken note of two or three particularly hard working and high achieving salespeople—or through actual hiring and recruiting. A good sales manager also knows how to take their current sales team and develop it. Productive sales managers understand that in order to increase the effectiveness of their sales people they need to continually invest in both product and sales effectiveness training.

3. The ability to forecast and anticipate future needs:Sales managers should have the ability to forecast their sales team member’s moves, knowing how aggressively or conservatively they will be in closing a deal. Strong managers should also be able to locate qualified deals in the sales process and step in before any associated risks damage the chances of closing said deals. Being able to look to the future rather than just focusing on this quarter’s numbers is also critical to successfully leading a sales team long term. You want to make the numbers, obviously, but you also don’t want your managers to be so myopic that they can’t plan ahead to make sure your organization is set up to make its future numbers too.

4. Coachability: It doesn’t matter how great someone looks on paper, if they are un-coachable, they will not make a good employee let alone a good manager. In fact, if your current sales manager thinks he or she has all the answers, you should be worried. A person’s coachability on the job, no matter what role they are filling, speaks volumes of their personality and attitude. Anyone who thinks they have learned all they have to learn about a particular subject is already behind on the times, and in sales, that can be a very dangerous risk to take. Sales tactics are constantly changing and evolving, and with all the variables one has to think about in sales—the market, the product/service maturity, competition, consumer behavior, etc.—having a stagnant, old-fashioned, or stubborn person leading the ship will only cause it to sink.

5. Good decision-making abilities: Whether or not they are in sales, a manager’s ability to lead a successful team relies heavily on their ability to consistently make good decisions. You want your sales managers in particular to know how to make good decisions regarding their team (whom to let go, promote, hire, etc.), setting up or revising sales processes, how to qualify deals, and where to focus their time and energy. Bad decisions or the inability to make decisions and stick by them is a poor trait for sales managers to have.

Checking a Sales Manager Candidate’s Qualification

A resume, which is just a piece of paper, can only tell you so much about a person and their abilities to properly fill a role. Here’s what else to look for or ask your sales manager candidate.

1. Metrics: A person can spend hours telling you about all they have achieved in their previous roles, but unless they have metrics to back up their performance claims, it is only words. Ask for reporting or other quantifiable information.

2. Social Profiles: A person’s public social media profiles can you a lot about them. Smart sales managers will know how to regularly and actively utilize their social media profiles professionally. Look for your sales manager candidates on LinkedIn. Do they have any endorsements? Are they using their LinkedIn page to post material that is inappropriate for a professional network? This can tell you a lot about who they used to work with as well as their ability to make smart, appropriate decisions.

3. Endorsements, Reviews, and References: Are all your candidate’s positive endorsements and reviews from friends and subordinates? This won’t tell you much. Instead, seek references and endorsements from your potential manager’s bosses. You want information from people they worked for, not just people they worked alongside or individuals they managed. (Ideally, though, you’ll want reviews from all three.)

Finding your perfect sales manager may seem like an endless ordeal, but if you take the time and put in the effort to find someone to fill the role, your organization and your sales team will thank you!

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