Inside the mind of your next Sales Manager

If you are considering changing sales roles and/or going into a sales role…read on…some insight that will help you prepare.

Ken McGovern, President of KMR Executive Search, has many years of experience providing retained search services for companies in a variety of industries.  During a recent conversation with Ken, he provided some great insight into what good Sales Managers are doing and how they think regarding building their sales teams.

How Sales Managers look for talent

Smart Sales Managers are always thinking ahead.  It is hard to attract and retain good sales talent.  According to Ken, “Smart Sales Managers are always looking for new sales talent.  They are ‘farming’, using their connections, so when senior management says “go,” they are ready to move quickly.”

Sales Managers need to find the shortest path to success just like the reps they manage.  Ken has seen top sales managers maintain a working relationship with reps from competitors so they can identify who has a good reputation and “at the risk of being accused of poaching, will ask customers for input.”

What are the hiring Sales Managers looking for?

This has a lot to do with the nature of the sales role.  Ken mentioned it is important “for you to decide who you are.” Here are some of Ken’s thoughts…personality types and experience are many times different in these sales roles:

Senior Account Manager (existing account looking to grow)

  • Relationship and trust building
  • Executive presence
  • Communication skills (internally and externally)
  • Success in interacting with customer senior management
  • Ability to identify opportunities to organically grow the relationship by recommending appropriate additional products or services.

New Business focused role

  • While the above skills come into play, there is much more focus on persistence and drive.
  • The ability to identify and qualify prospective clients.
  • Ability to assess the requirements for a sale – Is there a need? Is there a budget? Who is the decision-maker?

What happens with references

Typically, a candidate for a sales role will provide to someone like Ken or the hiring Sales Manager.  They, of course, are guaranteed to say great things about you because you have prepared them, right?  Well, there are other references that you do not provide.  What?  Remember my note above about Sales Managers connecting with customers and competitors?  Be aware that inquiries about you and your performance may be made with those resources.

Why do Sales Managers use personality tests

Ken’s experience tells him that Sales Managers, on average, “bat .500”…meaning half of the reps they hire work out well and half do not.  He helps companies to hire for many types of roles and believes that sales roles are “the hardest position for which to hire.”  Salespeople are largely dependent on the company’s ability to “deliver.”  In addition, you have the pressure from competition and clients in the mix.  Things are constantly evolving internally and with clients.  Sales Managers know there is risk in hiring a new sales rep and often need another opinion to confirm their candidate of choice. According to Ken, personality and assessment tests are used frequently to determine how a candidate may deal with pressure and change. 

How to leverage this information

Some things to keep in mind while in your current role and/or looking for a new one:

  • Treat your competition with respect while you are kicking their butts!
  • Like Steven Covey, renowned self help writer, said…”Begin with the end in mind.”  What do you want your customers to say about you if someone asks without your knowledge?
  • Think of the search for a new sales role as a selling process.  The hiring Sales Manager and professionals such as Ken, who are hired to provide retain search services, are great sources of information…all you have to do is ask!

Feel free to contact me directly for ideas and/or help on this or other topics!

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