Are you searching for someone to lead the salespeople in your organization? Unlike a sales rep. or sales manager, a sales leader puts into action the policies and plans of the company’s top management. They oversee the entire department to ensure that it operates smoothly with no problems. In a smaller organization, this man or woman might directly manage the representatives.
Discover the most important skills for a sales leader, how to go about locating this type of individual and the questions you should ask in your interview.
What Are the Key Skills of a Sales Leader?
The skills for a successful sales leader will be much the same as the skills required for salespeople —except at a higher level and with a wider perspective. They’ll need to understand their clients’ markets and business development strategies and have the vision to see future opportunities. This leader must be a “people person,” as they will be interacting not just with clients but with their team of reps and company executives. They may even be involved with training for the company’s reps.
Some of the skills and qualities a sales leader need include:
- Interpersonal skills
- Commercial awareness
- Presentation skills
How Do You Find Top Sales Leaders?
Exceptional sales leaders are busy generating business for their current company. To find and attract the very best, you need to do targeted outreach to these individuals, who are referred to as passive job seekers. These people are already employed so they’re not actively seeking employment, but they’re interested in hearing about new job opportunities.
A professional recruitment agency makes it their business to stay in touch and regularly communicate with passive job seekers. This is one of their specialties, as it requires the kind of time and perseverance that companies typically can’t commit to. As part of the hiring process, a recruiting firm will review their network of top talent and reach out to these people with your company’s information and job opportunity. They will provide you with a short list of highly qualified, motivated sales leaders that you can interview to learn more about.
What Questions Should You Ask in an Interview?
When you have a vetted list of candidates and are ready to start conducting interviews, it is important to know which questions to ask. Any inquiry should encourage the candidate to speak freely about themselves and their skills, motivation and past sales performance.
Here are top five questions to ask your candidates:
- Why Did You Want to Work in Sales?
This answer will provide insight into their motivation for becoming a sales professional. Someone who is enthusiastic and passionate about what they do, rather than seeing it as “just a job,” will be a more valuable team member. A desire to connect customers with the best products and services demonstrates their ability to be empathetic, caring and helpful.
- What Motivates You?
Learning about their motivation will tell you a lot about their personality and ambition. Will they be driven to make customers happy and your company successful? Ideally, their motivation goes beyond financial compensation and involves a sense of pride in their achievements and a desire for customer satisfaction and company success.
- What Made You Successful as a Sales Rep?
Pay attention to what they consider their most important qualities, as well as how they come across when speaking about themselves. The ideal sales professional will take pride in their abilities without being overly boastful. One important quality for a sales leader is to be able to listen — to clients, representatives and management. Encourage them to give you details of a few successful campaigns.
- What is Your Sales Process?
Have the candidate outline each step of their sales process, including how they begin with a new product. Look for someone with a deep understanding of the sales process — prospecting and initial contact, qualifying and approach, presentation, handling objections, closing and follow-up. They should understand the purchase funnel and be very familiar with sales language, such as conversion rates, bottom of the funnel, MQLs (marketing qualified leads) and SQLs (sales qualified leads). They should also be experienced with today’s selling tools and be tech-savvy. You’ll want to make sure your new hire can hit the ground running.
- How Do You Overcome Objections?
Understanding a candidate’s process for overcoming objections will indicate their willingness to work with a potential customer to close the sale. Are they a good listener? Will they be patient with a prospect’s concerns and are they happy to answer questions?
The Key to Hiring a Top Sales Leader
There are other qualities as well as psychological traits that are desirable in the best leader, such as likeability, empathy, flexibility, dedication, emotional stability, well-roundedness and the ability to inspire and motivate reps. You likely won’t be able to know how your candidate measures up on each one. However, working with professional sales recruiters will help you with the search, provide you with the best talent and give you special insight into what makes the ideal sales leader. They will partner with your company to help you hire the right sales leader and build an exceptional sales team.