How to effectively recruit a Head of Sales

25 July 2021

By Ursula Colman

How to effectively recruit a Head of Sales

A Head of Sales is one of the most important hires your business is likely to make. Here we explain, what to look for from CVs and what to ask at interview stage.

1. Identify what you need most from the sales leader 
Know the team

In technical environments, if your sales team is highly experienced, then the need for thorough technical and industry expertise in your Head of Sales is likely to be of more importance that an excellent coaching style. If your sales team is relatively inexperienced, a great mentor will be of vital importance. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the sales team and hire accordingly. Also, consider the importance of relevant industry experience to performing well in the role. For example, if the industry is changing, it will be of more importance to hire someone who understands the changes in the industry and can demonstrate how they can and have adapted to these changes.

2. Don’t forget the importance of hiring a Head of Sales who has excellent soft skills
The importance of the human element

65% of hiring managers in sales agree that a lack of soft skills among members of their sales team limits their company’s productivity. It’s therefore imperative that your Head of Sales has excellent soft skills themselves, and that they value the importance of soft skills when hiring within their team. It can be very easy to evaluate soft skills at the interview stage. When interviewing a Head of Sales, remember to consider these two things; Would you buy from this person? And would you want to work for this person? 

3. Look for evidence of building a team and recruiting talent
Finding leadership qualities

A lot of brilliant salespeople aren’t great coaches, but an excellent Head of Sales is someone adept at overseeing the sales function, seeing what is happening, correcting, coaching and making improvements. 

4. Don’t look for quantity of previous relevant experience but quality 
Step out of the comfort zone

All too often, companies will want to hire someone who has previously worked in a comparable Head of Sales role in a similar sector. But you might not get as much out of this candidate compared to hiring someone who doesn’t tick all the boxes. The best Head of Sales is passionate, motivated and ambitious for their team and the business they work for. Don’t be afraid to hire someone who hasn’t managed a sales team of the same size or complexity if they can demonstrate great results hiring in a smaller team.

To get the most out of any candidate you recruit, you need to be offering a stretch in their career, not just a new challenge. Be wary of hiring someone who has done everything you have wanted previously even if that might seem like the safest choice. It might not produce the best results. 

5. Look for someone who follows a good sales process and methodology 
The ability to oversee

It is essential that whoever you hire to head up your sales team can demonstrate a consistent process and effective sales methods. In basic terms, great sales teams (irrelevant of sector or routes to market) are like well-oiled machines, working in a highly effective way. Someone who demonstrates an efficient and productive sales process will be able to look at individuals in the sales team, and analyse where their strengths lie, and what areas they need to work on the most.

6. Look for someone who excelled in all previous positions, not just someone excellent at sales 
A drive for distinction

Brilliant salespeople don’t necessarily make great sales leaders. However, an outstanding leader will demonstrate excellent motivation and determination. If a candidate has excelled in previous positions, you’ve got good evidence that they have the drive to perform. And often excelling in non-sales roles demonstrates this effectively. 

There’s more expert help to hand. Get in touch with Ursula Colman - Talent Acquisition Director if you would be keen to receive our top interview questions for a Head of Sales role and/or specific advice relevant to your industry and location/s. 
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