Whether you are a sales machine who can scale out a team, or you are a CEO who grew up on the product and delivery side of your business, eventually you will need to hire someone to run your sales team.
This person will set the direction, create the metrics by which people are managed, represent your company to potential new hires and be the face locally, nationally or globally to potential and existing clients.
This person will determine whether product/delivery and sales mesh well. If you have the right leader, they create the "treaties" between these two countries. They don't create division of "my team" and "your team," they build internal partnerships.
Great sales leaders aren't ego driven, they are company-focused. They teach and preach what is good for the company is good for the individual. And they realize that sometimes the individual gets screwed and help the employee work through it.
Here are seven things to look for:
- They can go into specifics about their current team and top sales people. If they have to think for a while on this, they truly don't know, or worse, they manage on who they like, rather than who produces.
- They can talk about how they leverage Human Resources to manage people and help them get over any humps to success.
- They are open about the budget process and how they work with finance in creating sales forecasts, and know how to correctly grow sales organically and with more bodies.
- They are proud of their company. They have to love where they were. That's what you have to want from them to bring to your company. Then you have to find out what they loved about it and if your company has that, or if you'll let them build it.
- The salesperson who broke their heart. They should be able to tell you about a person on their team who had potential. Dive deep here. How much time did they spend with her? How many before work and after work training sessions? How many HR-involved conversations? Did they involve a mentor to come to them from a different angle? Then ask them about the person's personal life. Did they have a family? How many kids? Where were they from? How invested were they in this person's success? Did they really know this "failed" saleswoman on a personal level, or did they purely manage them by the numbers?
- They want to hear bad news. Great sales leaders want to hear bad news. A client is leaving. An order was messed up. Their team isn't going to hit numbers. If a sales leader doesn't want to hear bad news, their head is in the clouds and they only want to talk about the "happy stuff." Leadership is about cleaning up the shit.
- This last one is true 90 percent of the time. They have dislike for their boss, company or industry. If they are willingly leaving, they should hate where they are. There should be tangible things they really dislike. New CEO. New ownership. Government regulations. If they are simply "bored," then they should be open that the CEO or whomever they report to is limiting them by not challenging them and that should cause for dislike. Every once in a while, there is someone in sales leadership who is truly happy and you give them an offer that is too great to refuse. It rarely happens, but it may.