Hiring A Sales Manager With How Instead of What


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Hiring a sales manager? Forget the What and question the How. Interviewing for the sales manager’s job? Forget the What, and explain the How, and the Why.

Picture the scene. You’re the small business CEO, wanting to hire in talent to raise the game of your sales team. You want to sort the candidates into those you can work with, and those who can get the job done. Hopefully you’ll find somebody to fit both, and do that better than any of the others.

Choosing somebody you can work with will be mostly intuitive. You’ll know within the first few minutes whether the relationship is likely to work out or not. Figuring which candidates can do the job is a different matter.

How will you be sure? We all take up references, knowing they’re meaningless – referees don’t give bad reports. They wouldn’t be named if they did. Past performance is no better guide. You’re unlikely to have candidates admit failure in the past. They’ve all increased sales, reduced costs, improved hiring and individual target performance, and reduced staff turnover. Companies and markets also influence sales manager’s performance. Over recent years anybody selling Apple will have done well, whereas the very best people selling Kodak will have failed.

You’ll learn more of a candidate’s capabilities by examining the How. Ask about the underlying philosophies? Which strategies and tactics are deployed? What processes and tools are employed? How will the interviewee work with the ‘C suite’ and colleagues? When will the ideas be implemented, and in what process?

Managing sales people is a challenging role. Collaborating with Production, Distribution, Customer Service and Finance, is another dimension. Maintaining a sense of humour, and empathy, amidst the turmoil of targets and revenues and quarters and budgets is yet another. An understanding of the problems, an acceptance of the responsibility, a willingness to provide the leadership, and ideas about how to deliver, is what you, the CEO, are looking for, when choosing a sales manager.

On the hand, if you’re interviewing for the job, wanting to persuade the CEO you’re the one. When you want this job, and are prepared to take on those challenges. When you need to stand out from the crowd. This is your Secret Sauce. Sell how you would do the job. Highlight the challenges. Argue the trade offs. Discuss strategies and processes. Touch on tactics and tools.

CEOs need sales managers who fix problems. Showing how you can fix problems will help you stand out.

Whichever side of this relationship you’re coming from, check out our Succeeding In Sales Management for detailed explanations of the Hows and Whys.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Reeves
Consultant, author, software entrepreneur, business development professional, aspiring saxophonist, busy publishing insight and ideas. Boomer turned Zoomer - thirty year sales professional with experience selling everything from debt collection to outsourcing and milking machines to mainframes. Blogger at Successful Sales Management. Head cook and bottle washer at Front Office Box.


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