How to Hire a Head of Sales

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Hire a head of sales

Hiring a competent head of sales is integral to your company’s ability to generate more customers and revenue. In this article, we make the recruitment process easier for you by sharing important tips like critical skills and vital interview questions. This is your one-stop guide for choosing your new head of sales in Kenya.

Tip 1 – Key personal qualities

According to leading consultants, Olympia Consulting, the difficulty of finding a talented head of sales can be seen from the high annual turnover rate for the position. Using a recent study of 100 corporations, Olympia Consulting reported that 25% of those firms experienced a high turnover in the sales leader position.

One of the ways to avoid this costly mistake is to ensure, from the outset, that the candidate has the following key character traits:

  • Team builder willing to coach and encourage
  • Strong background in sales, prior to sales management
  • Evidence of communication and collaboration skills
  • An innovative thinker ready to challenge the norm
  • Possession of strong character and integrity

Tip 2 – The perfect ad

As a rule of thumb, job adverts should follow the classic AIDA selling format: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

This means that when you advertise for your head of sales, your job ad must first attract attention (from appropriate job seekers), attract relevant interest (target ideal candidates), create desire (to pursue the opportunity) and finally provide a clear and direct instruction for the next action, which should be to apply for the role.

Here is an example of how to use the AIDA model when creating a head of sales job ad:

A (Attention)

To get the attention of the appropriate and qualified job-seeker, you need to use the right job title. Similar job titles that apply to a head of sales position include Sales Director, Senior Sales Executive and Vice President of Sales.

Another way of grabbing the attention of your target audience is with a powerful brief job description. Your summary should use emotive and strong descriptive language that perfectly captures your company and what the head of sales position embodies in your company.

I (Interest)

A sure way to gain the interest of the right set of candidates is to list the responsibilities and requirements of the role. There are 2 important factors to grab a job seeker’s interest; visually appealing text and relevant content. Visually appealing text is one which engages with your audience to ensure they read your message quickly. To make your text appealing, use subheadings and bullet points. With regards to content, ensure you stay focused on the needs of your target audience.

Relevant content is one which states the job requirements clearly and exhaustively. It can, for example, include previous and proven sales executive experience with evidence of meeting or exceeding targets. A key responsibility which should feature on the job ad is the ability to create and deliver a strategic plan to expand customer base and achieve sales targets.

D (Desire)

After you have piqued the interest of potential candidates, you will need to explain how and why having that position in your company will benefit them. To do this, you should cater to their career needs and wants. What can you offer them that your competitors don’t? This is a great opportunity to promote your competitive and negotiable salary package or your company’s unique culture.

A (Action)

Ensure you end your job ad with the clear and simple action you want your target audience to take. This part of your job ad must leave no room for doubt with regards to what they have to do to apply for the position. For example, you could state, ‘To apply for this exciting opportunity, submit your application along with a cover letter addressing each of the requirements’.

To get you started on creating your perfect ad, here is our sample job ad template for a head of sales position. The following template can be posted on online job boards or career pages and you can customise it to suit your needs during the hiring process.

Hire a head of sales

After posting your ad, you may get applications that do not meet the managerial mark. That is why you need the best digital platforms with filtering systems that will save you time by quickly eliminating unqualified applicants. For example, BrighterMonday’s applicant management system allows you to quickly filter candidates by your job requirements, leaving you with only qualified candidates to shortlist.

Shortlisting

Tip 3 – Interview questions

Two-time entrepreneur, James Lemkin believes that particular interview questions are integral to selecting a competent head of sales. He lists several questions which make it possible to determine:

  1. If this candidate is for real or not
  2. If this candidate can really be a true VP, a leader, a manager or not
  3. If the candidate is a good fit for your company and space in particular

Here are some relevant questions you can use:

  • Give us an example of a team you have directly managed including how you built and mentored the team? This question will give you insight as to whether he/she has the necessary skills to grow, coach and motivate your team.
  • From your experience, how do you think sales and client management should work together? This will let you know if he/she is knowledgeable on how to build and maintain long-lasting customer relationships and their comprehension of the customer lifecycle.
  • As our new head of sales, what will our revenues look like in 120 days? From his/her answer, you will know if they are number-oriented with strong math skills and possess a well-developed business sense.

This list is not exhaustive and it’s best to tailor it and expand on these questions based on your business model, needs, and goals.

Tip 4 – Long term access to qualified candidates

From your experience, you already know that when it comes to executive positions like head of sales, poaching and turnover is a problem. You do a great job so it’s highly unlikely this is something you have to worry about but nevertheless, it’s always best to be prepared for all likely outcomes. So, in the unlikely event that you lose your head of sales, there is a simple way of ensuring you don’t have to spend a lot of time through the long-winded process of replacement.

BrighterMonday’s candidate pool gives you access to other qualified applicants who applied for the role before. They were by no means unqualified for the position but did not quite make the mark vs your top candidate. This means that should you need to fill in the head of sales position again or another position in your sales department, you can contact the available group of relevant job seekers who could potentially fit in the available role.

Pool of candidates

Recruitment is easier with the BrighterMonday Employer Centre.

Jessica Stiles