HIRING

What to Look for in a Sales Manager

To find the ideal executive to run your sales force, consultant Lizz Pellet says you should look beyond a candidate's impressive resumé and ample industry contacts.
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The ideal sales manager is affable and extroverted and has great contacts. But he or she should check the kill-or-be-killed mentality at the door, according to Lizz Pellet, a consultant, author, and fellow at Johns Hopkins University who studies organizational-change management. She recently spoke with Inc.com's Christine Lagorio.

What traits do great sales managers share?

I think people have moved beyond the notion that it's enough to hire a go-getter who's a master of the transaction. You also want to screen for characteristics such as empathy and loyalty. Your sales manager should be a team player and a good cultural fit.

Should you look to a larger sales force in your industry to find candidates?

I'd be very wary of this. Transitioning from a large sales force to a small one can be difficult. In a large sales organization, many reps are motivated by the idea of beating the pack -- of doing better than their peers. In a small sales force, the belief in the idea and the ability to beat quota are typically the main sources of motivation.

How do you know it's time to hire a sales manager?

If you own a typical small business that has survived its first three to five years, and you've proved that you have a viable product and can make enough money to survive, then you should bring in someone to manage sales. You want to put the onus on someone other than yourself to manage both the financial expectations for sales and the sales staff.

What should a business owner be prepared to pay?

If you need someone who is expected to bring in a million in sales a year, you will need to have $125,000 in your budget and be ready to pay that out as a base. If you don't have that much money in your pocket, then you have to get creative by adding equity or a bonus to the compensation package.

To learn what makes salespeople tick, see "The Secret of Sales Success." To read Inc.com's guide on how to hire a sales manager, go to How to Hire a Sales Manager.

IMAGE: Adam Amengual
Last updated: Apr 1, 2010

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.




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