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Sales Management Recruitment: What Makes a Great Sales Leader?

There’s a common misconception in business: When someone is good at their job, they’ll also be good in a leadership position. In sales, this idea rings especially hollow. A great salesperson doesn’t always equate to a great leader — in fact, finding sales managers who are inclined to both sales and leadership is incredibly difficult. It’s why many companies make the choice to partner with a talent expert for sales management recruitment.

Ultimately, a sales manager is someone who has both mastered the sales process and demonstrated a capacity for helping others achieve that same mastery. And beyond fostering a stronger revenue stream, these individuals need to make sure the culture within the sales department aligns with the company’s broader objectives. That’s what Search Solution Group is looking for when tasked with sales management recruitment.

The evolving nature of sales and selling

Today, selling a product or service isn’t often the best approach to generating sales revenue. Instead, salespeople need to provide solutions, build rapport, and have the skills to empower their customers to make informed decisions. To do this, they need a sales leader who understands the modern philosophy of sales and the strategies for deploying that philosophy.

In recent years, the role of sales has changed significantly in both B2C and B2B environments. In B2C environments, sales and marketing departments need strong rapport to ensure a unified message for customers — one rooted in a brand’s core values and culture. In B2B selling environments, it’s all about solving problems and appealing to decision makers and buying committees, wherever they are in the sales process — the likes of account-based marketing (ABM) or buyer-first selling, for example.

In either case, sales teams need top-down direction from a sales manager with a deep understanding of buyers, sellers, and the communication required between them.

Identify where sales and leadership intersect

Being a leader in sales today means more than having solid sales skills. It requires a unique combination of traits and abilities enabling sales leaders to inspire and motivate their teams, drive results, and deftly craft sales funnels. A well-run sales department will hit its KPI goals, while exceptional sales management recruitment will result in a sales team that outstrips supply and drives demand growth.

Technical sales skills aside, a successful sales leader also needs strong soft skills: communication abilities, a penchant for building and managing relationships, a strategic mindset, and empathy for both their team and potential customers. Furthermore, they must possess a growth mindset, adaptability amid change, and the ability to inspire and motivate their teams. Leadership traits such as empathy, integrity, and vision are also critical.

If this sounds like a veritable wish list of top-tier traits, that’s because it is. When you stop thinking about sales management recruitment from a sales-only standpoint and start observing the role through a leadership lens, the bar for hiring rises.

Sales management recruitment can herald success

Promoting from within vs. hiring from outside is a common dilemma many companies face when seeking to fill a key sales leadership position. The decision of which approach to take depends on many factors, including current sales performance, organizational culture, and available resources. There are pros and cons to both:

  • Promoting from within can boost employee morale, demonstrate a commitment to employee development, and leverage existing relationships and knowledge of the company’s products and services. Additionally, promoting from within can be more cost-effective than hiring from outside, as the internal candidate is already familiar with the company’s operations and culture. But finding a leader among an internal sales team isn’t always as simple as it sounds, and there’s a risk promoting from within could disrupt the sales team dynamic.
  • Hiring from outside can bring fresh perspectives, new ideas, and a wealth of experience and knowledge from other companies and industries. It can also help to address specific performance or leadership gaps and bring new energy and enthusiasm to the sales team. The talent pool is much larger than what you have internally, and outsourcing sales management recruitment means putting the process in the hands of a firm focused on identifying and vetting both leadership ability and sales acumen side by side. Cost can be a factor, but the ROI of a well-placed sales leader will pay for itself. 

Either way, a sales leader who’s passionate about their work empowers their team and sets high standards, creating a positive, results-driven sales culture whose effects can be felt across the organization.

Find your dream sales manager

A well-qualified sales manager is someone capable of doing more than just hitting KPIs. They need to be able to raise the bar for sales excellence and cultivate a sales team whose efforts uplift the entire company. Doing this takes more than a proclivity for closing deals, which means your talent search needs to identify individuals inclined to be big thinkers as well as competent salespeople.

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