The Secret to Hiring Great Sales Leaders


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Those who build great companies understand that the ultimate throttle on growth for any great company is not markets, or technology, or competition, or products. It is the one thing above all others; the ability to get and keep enough of the right people.

-Jim Collins, Good to Great

The Secret to Hiring Great Sales Leaders resized 600

It’s June and you’re not sure your sales leader is going to last through the year. He’s missing the number. He’s using tactics that no longer work. The team isn’t engaged. You’re ready to make a change.

What should you be looking for?

If you’re a CEO without selling experience, what you need may not be clear. The secret to hiring a great sales leader is the ‘A’ Player Scorecard. Get it free here and nail your next sales leadership hire.

Your next sales manager needs modern skills to make the number. He needs capabilities like social selling, buyer-centric selling and big data for sales.

What is an ‘A’ Player Scorecard?

It is a tool to prevent you from making a hiring mistake. The ‘A’ Player Scorecard helps you:

  • Define excellence
  • Evaluate potential candidates using best practices
  • Assess their fit for the role

There are 3 main components to an ‘A’ Player Scorecard:

1. Mission

The mission describes why the role exists. It’s your way to communicate:

  • The value the role brings to your organization
  • The compensation you are paying for the role
  • The selling points of the role

An example of this is below. This section is important for both you and potential candidates. It is your way to set a clear vision for the job. It begins to define what you should look for.

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For your candidates, it tells them what to expect. It also tells them why they will want the job. You will save yourself time by being clear from the start.

It’s almost certain any ‘A’ player candidates you want to hire are currently employed. If you cannot sell them on the job, they won’t consider your opportunity. You will instead spend your time interviewing ‘B’ and ‘C’ player candidates. This will lead to making the wrong hire. The mission section will help you think define this.

2. Accountabilities

This section tells your sales leader what he needs to get done. Examples of accountabilities are:

  • Quarterly revenue goal
  • Number of new accounts signed per quarter
  • Strategic partnerships formed per quarter

These are the metrics your leader must attain to earn commissions and bonuses. You can interview against their prior results to assess their strength as a leader. You cannot be specific enough here. Dollars, numbers and percents. Dates and times.

Specificity here will save you time and prevent making a bad hire. If they haven’t achieved specific results in the past, eliminate them from contention.

Setting clear goals ensures there is no confusion. Your sales leader knows exactly what he is signing up for on day 1.

3. Competencies

This is the most important part to finding great sales leaders. Competencies help you determine if the candidate has the required leadership skills. SBI uses 56 sales leader competencies across six major categories:

  1. Selling Skills
  2. Management Skills
  3. Intellectual Skills
  4. Personal Skills
  5. Interpersonal Skills
  6. Motivational Skills

You should select 15-20 competencies required of your sales leader. Examples of sales leader competencies are:

  • Coaching & Talent Development
  • Managing Processes
  • Drive for Results
  • Judgment/Decision Making

You can interview candidates against these competencies in order to determine if they fit. These are scenario-based questions that focus on specifics. You want examples of how and when the candidate did these things. You can quickly narrow your list of candidates based on their answers. It helps you quickly spot the good ones. It will also save you time by eliminating the bad ones.

Call to Action:

As a CEO, your success in sales is all about building a great team. This is obvious. So is the time wasted when you make a bad hire. Times have changed. The ‘A’ Player Scorecard is the key to hiring great sales leaders. It defines what you should look for. Use it to hire your next sales leader and save yourself the pain of another bad hire.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ryan Tognazzini
Ryan is a recognized thought leader in business-to-business sales force effectiveness. During his time at Sales Benchmark Index, he developed many of the evidence-based best practices housed in SBI's database of 11,000 companies. Ryan has more than 15 years of experience focused on increasing sales productivity through improvements in account segmentation, lead generation and sales processes.


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