Why You Can’t Fill Your Open Sales Manager Positions


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A post for Sales and HR Leaders to find root causes of Sales Manager (SM) vacancies. The Sales Manager position is the fulcrum between sales leadership strategy and sales force execution. Make sure you know why there are vacancies so that you can keep them filled. Teams without effective sales managers lack morale and discipline. Sales forces that consistently lose (or fail to keep) sales managers are losing money. In either case, hiring/training distractions chew up valuable time better used for selling.

To assist you further, sign-up for SBI’s Sales & Marketing Research Review here. At no cost, an expert from SBI will present the full research findings. You will have access to guides, templates and tools. Included in this you will receive the Causes of Sales Manager Vacancies tool.

Figure Out Why SM Vacancies Exist

I’m assuming you’ve already uncovered a pattern with Sales Manager vacancies. One golden opportunity to find root causes is to consistently perform SM exit interviews. Here are three possible causes of continual SM vacancies. Each one lists the possible root cause and manifest symptoms. Also, some guidance on how to resolve the root cause. Bear in mind that multiple causes may be at play.

Hiring profile not right. Without a relevant SM hiring profile, you will not attract qualified candidates. Time will be wasted and costs will be incurred. You spend multiple dollars and effort during the hiring process only to have the SM leave.

Symptoms: High attrition; low performance; sales leaders that begrudgingly accept candidates (because the quantity available is so few); SMs with methods that don’t work for your business; SMs that haven’t evolved with the buyer evolution.

Guidance: Update the hiring profile. Include your defined SM competencies within the profile to filter responding candidates. If you don’t have SM competencies defined, contact SBI to help you write them.

Sourcing/hiring processes ineffective. The hiring profile may be correct, but steps in the hiring process are suspect. Multiple candidates are brought through the process but one of two things happen: 1) the hired choice does not work out; 2) the perfect candidate doesn’t get hired.

Symptoms: High attrition and low performance again may point to a troubled hiring process; Difficulties in choosing the right candidate (meaning disagreements on who should be chosen); Candidates bow out of the hiring process; Low quantity or quality of candidates.

Guidance: First, ensure the hiring profile is correct. Then, ensure you are sourcing candidates from sources that would match the profile. Review the hiring process to make sure it is outward-in: from the candidate’s perspective. The hiring process needs guidance on interviewing, testing, and communicating with the candidate.

Poor compensation. This may seem to be a common root cause. However, people leave a job because of their boss more so than the pay. Part of the poor compensation may be the inability/difficulty to achieve incentives. This might not be known during the hiring process.

Symptoms: Few candidates apply; low-quality candidates apply; short tenure of new hire SMs; Comp below Market Reference Points; filled by mostly internal candidates only.

Guidance: Understand market pay rates for SMs. Assess sales compensation plans to check comp vs. desired behaviors. Change the comp plan and associated quotas if need be, but only after sufficient analysis.

Other potential causes include the below. Download the Causes of Sales Manager Vacancies tool for more detail around each of these causes. The root cause, symptoms and resolution guidance are in the tool for each one.

  • Weak sales strategy
  • Poor territory
  • Poor training or onboarding materials and execution
  • Poor/un-coachable talent on team
  • No SFE improvement/evolution
  • Lack of development opportunities
  • SM not enabled with sufficient technology
  • Overcomplicated expectations of processes/procedures
  • A bad boss

Causes of Sales Manager Vacancies Tool

Steps to Resolve the Root Cause

  1. Download the tool and determine the likely cause(s) of open SM roles
  2. For each open SM position, decide if it can be eliminated
  3. For vacancies that must be filled, try some new methods. Base the new methods on your root cause identification. For example, maybe it’s the SM profile not attracting top talent. Then redefine what the ideal candidate looks like. Review the competencies currently being used to see if they should be updated.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Loftness
Steve has worked for more than 20 years in process design and implementation, as a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. While at Sales Benchmark Index, he has helped many B-to-B organizations eliminate non-value add selling activities resulting in productivity improvements of 20+%.


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