Sales Manager – The Team Selector

As a sales manager you’re not just the coach, but the team selector. You will be responsible to finding, hiring and inducting the right people into your sales team. This is always challenging and even the best sales managers cannot expect to get it right all the time.

“I’m not looking for the best players, I’m looking for the right players” – from the movie ‘Miracle’

To help find the right person for a sales team, you need to ensure you have the right factors lined up before starting the recruitment process:

  • The right position – is the role clearly defined and do you know the knowledge and skills required to be successful in the role? Can you communicate this effectively to the new team member?
  • The right time – for both for the candidate and the company. Will the role be appropriate for where the candidate is in their career? Can the company accommodate this new employee at this time?
  • The right things – do you have a clear understanding of how your new team member needs to apply their knowledge and skills to be successful? Will they?
  • The right ways – will the the new team member be able to perform at their highest level while remaining in alignment with the business’s core values and the team’s culture?
  • The right fit – will the the candidate demonstrate the right attitude, behaviour and communication styles to ‘fit’ with your team culture?

A champion team will beat a team of champions
Recruiting effectively is critical to the success of any sales team. This is one role that you, as a sales manager, cannot delegate in its entirety. Some of the administrative tasks can be undertaken by others including your assistant (if you are lucky enough to have one) or your HR department. But ultimately, the final selection of the new team member must lie with you. Having a clearly defined and documented process will help you make the right decision, most of the time. Some aspects of a selection process you might like to consider include:

  • Define the job challenges. Don’t just labour over the role description. This is important but even more critical to a successful selection is understanding and communicating the challenges ahead for the new team member.
  • Control the recruitment. Whether in-house or outsourced, you need to have an intimate involvement with the advertising of the role and process being used to ‘short-list’ the candidates. Ads, and approaches to potential candidates, need to focus on the challenges and skills required with a clear call to action for those qualified. And make sure your search for talent casts the net wide and use all resources available.
  • Smart assessment. After the initial short-listing, the interview process and further screening needs to provide you with insights that help confirm the individuals potential to successfully fit into your team. Ensure consistency of evaluation – use a checklist of questions that you need to have answered as part of your assessment process – both formally and informally.
  • References. Checking references is always difficult as no one is likely to give you a ‘bad’ referee. Use social media to do ‘silent’ reference checks. Does the individuals Linked In profile match their CV and what you learned during the interview process? Do you share connections that you could contact? What image does the individual portray on Facebook?

“Get the right people on the bus” – Jim Collins

Having made the right decision, you need to ensure you do not see the new team member set up for failure. Inducting the person into the team and the company is critical to their future success. While the ‘hygiene’ factors relating to their engagement can be delegated, it is up to you to ensure they are given every opportunity to succeed:

  • Does the new recruit know exactly what is required to be successful.
  • Do they have a clear understanding of the role?
  • Do they have a clear and job description that show KPA’s and expected KPI’s?
  • How will they be ‘up-skilled’ on the company, your products and services, the market and your/their clients?
  • Do they understand and know how to use the tools and systems required by the company and you as the sales manager?
  • What ‘in-the-job’ training is appropriate for the individual’s stage of career development, skills and personality?
  • What style of management will you need to employ to help them achieve their goals?

Bringing a new team member on board takes time and effort. Selecting, supporting and developing new sales talent is one of the most critical parts of a sales managers role. You won’t get it right all the time, but when you do, you’ll never forget it – nor will they.

This article was first published by the author on Linked In.