Candidate Search recruitment

5 Questions to Answer when Hiring Sales Leaders

February 17, 2021

Hiring a sales leader at a growing company is tricky. When done right, double-digit growth can be realized, and unicorn status could follow. When done wrong, the trajectory of your company and dollars lost can be catastrophic. A bad sales leadership hire could cost your company north of $1M when you factor in time, onboarding, recruiting fees, lost revenue, and employee attrition.

Some of these questions may be no-brainers, but you’d be surprised how many company leaders aren’t prepared for their elevator pitch. They haven’t thought through how to articulate the simplest answers to the most straightforward questions. After sourcing hundreds of sales leaders and coaching them through the recruitment process, we have learned what is most important to these candidates when moving to a new company. Here are the top five questions IQTP believes every leadership team should be prepared to answer when hiring sales team leaders for a growing organization.

@IQTalent and @CaldwellPtners @BenJaksichRTA discuss 5 questions you should prepare for when you #recruit top #sales talent:Click to Tweet

1. What Does Your Company Do?

You cannot understate how important it is that the corporate and sales leadership team are able to articulate effectively what the companay's mission is and how their products or services serve the customer. If the person you are trying to hire does not understand the who, what, where, and why, it will be very challenging for them to sell it. Be clear, be concise, and use language that non-technical folks can understand. This is your “elevator pitch,” and it is the most critical part of an interview.

2. Why Do Your Customers Need Your Product or Service?

After you’ve explained what your company does, you need to be equally prepared to explain why your target market needs your product or service. Does your product offer a solution to a well-known problem, or will the potential customer need to be educated on the nature of the challenge? The less the customer is familiar with the issue, the more challenging it will be to sell the solution. Think through your product’s main value proposition, and keep your “why” as simple as possible when recruiting your future sales team leaders.

3. What Type of Companies Need Your Product?

Be specific when you pitch the type of companies with whom you are expecting your candidate to engage. Even if leadership believes they have a sizeable universal use case, anybody who has watched Shark Tank can tell you that you need a defined audience to focus on initially. Be prepared to give the candidate which departments and/or divisions within the target companies that will be the primary focus. You should be precise when describing the ideal customer and even drill down to the exact target buyer or company revenue size. Great sales leaders will want to know that company leadership has created a strategy to identify their clients and are prepared to support the sales team.

#Hiring a top #sales leader can be tricky, but @IQTalent and @CaldwellPtners @BenJaksichRTA says you can expedite the process by preparing for these 5 questions:Click to Tweet

4. What Companies Currently Use Your Product?

Strike a balance when answering this question between showing the candidate your entire CRM and keeping all the current clients close to the vest. Referring to your largest and most well-known corporate clients can be impressive, but experienced sales leaders know that these companies pilot thousands of new vendors a year.

While name-dropping may be a good opener, it is far from engaging. Give the candidate a real-life example of how you secured a current client and why it is working. What is the price these clients are paying to use the service and is it a profitable account? How did the implementation go? Are there other similar companies in the sales funnel? If you had the chance to redo this deal, what would you have done differently? Be sure the companies you reference as current clients are in lockstep with the ideal target customer you referenced while answering #3!

5. Tell Me about Your Organization’s Culture and Current Team.

Corporate culture and employee engagement can be tricky in an entirely virtual capacity. Gone are the days of free cold brew and open-air offices; here are the days of virtual work, flexible hours, and zoom collaboration. Recent reports show that remote work has become a top priority for many of the best candidates. Be prepared to answer questions surrounding remote work in addition to Covid-19 policies. Topics you should be ready to address are:

  • Onboarding How have you been onboarding new hires during the pandemic? Is it working? The number one reason sales leaders turnover early is onboarding. Even if you do not have a fully built HR team, be sure you have a consistent onboarding process.
  • Work-Life BalanceWhat are the expectations for finding the balance between your employees’ work life and personal life? Do you have mandatory work hours, or is your company more flexible?
  • Collaboration What tools and technologies are you utilizing to foster an engaging and innovative workplace? Is the sales department a dedicated team, or are they rewarded as individuals and in competition with one another?
  • Leadership Which members of the leadership team have launched a product previously? Who has succeeded at an early stage, high growth company? New employees are betting on a product, but they are also betting on the team. When you are recruiting the most qualified candidates, it is essential to show a proven success history.

Your best candidates know their worth. They will be extremely diligent when deciding to make a move to a new company. Through the recruiting and interview process, be honest and transparent about your firm’s successes and tell the truth about the challenges. It is better to lose the hire than to hire a team member and have him or her leave in six months.

Are you a high growth company who needs to build out its sales team? We can source the top sales leaders from across the globe and create the talent pipeline you’ve been dreaming of!

The recruiting you need. When you need it. Contact IQTalent Partners today