Sales is the backbone of every successful company.
There's a saying in business that "cash is king," and that's the absolute truth. Without cash, you can't hire the best talent. Without cash, you can't afford that fancy office space (or any office space at all). Without cash, your business isn't a business.
Every type of company has some kind of sales department. Sales could mean signing on advertising partners. Sales could mean knocking down doors and getting clients for a specific service. Regardless of what type of sales your company requires in order to generate cash, the key to sales is hiring the right people to spearhead the department.
In order to hire all-star sales managers, here are the four things you need to look for--and the qualities you need to encourage over the long term:
1. The capacity to train and be trainable.
Whenever you're hiring someone for a leadership position, you need to look for two unique qualities.
First, the individual needs to be talented enough to be able to train the people they'll be leading. This requires both in-depth knowledge of their particular domain, as well as a knack for being able to articulate their experience in a way that other team members can internalize and put to the test.
Second, the individual needs to be willing to continue learning as well. One of the worst qualities a manager can possess is "not knowing what they don't know." They think just because they've been leading sales teams for a few years, they know all the answers. But the best sales managers are great at sharing what they know, while also remaining open to learning things they might not know fully yet.
2. One eye always on the analytics.
When things happen, for good or bad, there's always a reason.
The best sales managers are always looking to draw conclusions from the data they're capturing. For example, one large order could make a sales person look like he or she is performing exceedingly well, when in reality there may be dozens of other prospective customers that are being left unattended. These are things to be expected in a business, and should be looked at closely.
What's important is that you hire a sales manager who can spot signs of these kinds of trends and know how to address them effectively.
3. A talent for choosing talent.
Especially when you're scaling an organization, the managers you hire need to be capable of hiring people you yourself would want to hire.
There's a second on this topic in my book, All In. One of the best qualities you can find in a sales manager is self awareness. Remember, people in sales aren't "machines." They're human beings who need to feel connected to the company as a whole, and understand the impact of the work they're doing. As a result, you don't want to hire a sales manager who sees the department differently, and makes hiring decisions that go against your own beliefs as a leader.
The secondary component to this is ensuring that the person you put in charge (the sales manager) continues to nurture the talent they bring onto the team. One mistake sales managers make is hiring people, training them for a month or two, and then never bothering to check up on their performance. They assume things are going fine--instead of being proactive and looking for new ways to help them improve further.
4. A clear understanding of goals.
When hiring a sales manager, it's your job to make sure they are crystal clear about the goals they're working toward--and why.
Reason being, too many sales teams think that "just sell more" is a worthwhile strategy. It's not. If you tell someone to run one mile, they'll run one mile. But if you tell someone to run as far as they can, they'll probably run for a half a mile and then stop.
Goals need to be clearly defined.
Once these targets have been set, the next step is to ensure the sales manager and their subsequent team has the tools and resources they need in order to be successful. People need to know how their progress is being measured, and how they are expected to reach the targets laid out in front of them. And a great sales manager not only provides all of this information, but works to monitor performance at every step of the way--constantly looking for opportunities to provide more clarity and help everyone else become even more successful.