The CEO Guide for Hiring A Great Sales Manager

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Congrats! You have finally seen and accepted all the telltale signs that you need to hire a sales manager.

I totally get it. Hiring a sales manager can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are a founder or CEO who’s been actively involved in the day-to-day sales tasks.

Having helped hundreds of business owners transition from founder-led sales, my aim is to make that process less stressful for you by providing a comprehensive guide on how to hire an effective sales manager, a decision that can have lasting effects on your company’s bottom line.

And in case you’re still on the fence about hiring, check out this article that will help you know when to hire a sales manager.

Understanding the Sales Manager Role

Before embarking on the hiring process, you need to have a clear understanding of what a sales manager does and the qualities that define a successful one.

Responsibilities and Duties of a Sales Manager

The following are the duties and responsibilities of a sales manager:

  1. Leadership and Team Management
    • Leading, motivating, and managing the sales team.
    • Setting sales goals and targets in line with the business objectives.
    • Conducting regular sales meetings and providing guidance and support to the team.
  2. Strategy Development and Implementation
    • Developing and implementing effective salesstrategies and plans.
    • Analyzing market trends and adapting sales strategies accordingly.
    • Identifying new market opportunities and ways to reach them.
  3. Sales Performance Tracking
    • Monitoring and analyzing sales team performance against targets.
    • Providing coaching and feedback to improve performance.
    • Implementing performance management plans for underperforming sales staff.
  4. Customer Relationship Management
    • Building and maintaining strong, long-lasting customer relationships.
    • Understanding customer needs and requirements.
    • Resolving customer issues and complaints.
  5. Training and Development
    • Identifying training needs and ensuring the sales team has the necessary skills and knowledge.
    • Providing or facilitating ongoing professional development and training for the team.
  6. Recruitment and Hiring
  7. Reporting and Administration
    • Preparing sales reports and forecasts for management.
    • Ensuring the sales team adheres to company policies and procedures.
    • Managing the sales budget and ensuring cost-effectiveness.
  8. Collaboration with Other Departments
    • Collaborating with marketing, product development, and customer service departments to ensure brand consistency and increase sales.
  9. Sales Tools and Technology
    • Overseeing the use of sales technology, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
    • Ensuring the sales team effectively utilizes technology to increase efficiency.
  10. Market Analysis and Research
    • Keeping abreast of the latest industry trends, market conditions, and competitors.
    • Using market research to inform sales strategies and approaches.

Skills and Attributes of a Competent Sales Manager

  1. Leadership Skills
    • Ability to inspire and motivate a team towards achieving sales goals.
    • Proficiency in managing diverse personalities and resolving conflicts.
  2. Strategic Thinking
    • Capability to develop and implement effective sales strategies and plans.
    • Skill in analyzing market trends and adapting strategies accordingly.
  3. Communication Skills
    • Excellent verbal and written communication abilities.
    • Proficient in delivering clear and persuasive presentations.
  4. Interpersonal Skills
    • Strong ability to build and maintain relationships with clients, team members, and other stakeholders.
    • Empathy and the ability to understand and respond to team members’ and clients’ needs.
  5. Problem-Solving Abilities
    • Competence in identifying challenges and developing effective solutions.
    • Skill in navigating complex sales situations and obstacles.
  6. Organizational Skills
    • Ability to manage multiple tasks and priorities efficiently.
    • Proficiency in planning, delegating, and time management.
  7. Sales Expertise
    • Deep understanding of sales processes and techniques.
    • Experience in the specific industry or market segment the company operates in.
  8. Analytical Skills
    • Proficiency in analyzing sales data and metrics to gauge team performance and market trends.
    • Capability to use data-driven insights to inform decisions.
  9. Adaptability
    • Flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions and business needs.
    • Openness to new ideas and approaches in sales.
  10. Technological Proficiency
    • Familiarity with sales software, CRM systems, and other relevant technologies.
    • Ability to leverage technology to improve sales processes and efficiency.
  11. Coaching and Mentoring
    • Skill in coaching and developing sales team members to enhance their performance.
    • Providing constructive feedback and guidance.
  12. Customer Focus
    • Strong orientation towards understanding and fulfilling customer needs.
    • Ability to build long-term customer relationships.

Creating an Effective Sales Manager Job Description

A well-crafted job description helps to filter out unsuitable candidates and attract candidates who align with the role’s demands and the company’s culture.

You can create one by following these 6 simple steps.

Step 1: Start with a precise job title and summary

The summary should briefly describe the role’s importance within the company and the primary objectives.

Step 2: List the core responsibilities

Be specific about the role’s daily activities and long-term objectives.

Include tasks like developing sales strategies, managing the sales team, setting targets, and analyzing sales data.

Step 3: State the required qualifications and skills

These include educational qualifications and professional experience. For instance, a degree in business administration or a related field and a certain number of years in sales.

Highlight specific skills like leadership, communication, strategic planning, and CRM software proficiency.

Step 4: State Desirable Experience

Mention any industry-specific experience or past roles that would be beneficial.

Include experiences that demonstrate a track record of sales success and effective team management.

Step 5: Provide Company Overview and Culture

Provide a brief overview of your company, including its mission and values.

Mention aspects of your company culture that might appeal to potential candidates, like growth opportunities, team dynamics, or unique benefits.

Step 6: Outline the Application Process

Clearly outline how to apply for the position. Include any specific requirements for the application, like a cover letter or portfolio.

How to Evaluate Sales Manager Candidates

Once you have a pool of potential candidates, the next step is to evaluate them effectively to find the best fit for the role of sales manager.

Here’s how to approach this process:

Review Applications

  • Start by screening resumes and cover letters. Look for relevant experience, achievements in previous sales roles, and evidence of leadership skills.
  • Pay attention to any gaps in employment or frequent job changes, which may warrant further discussion during the interview.

Conduct Interviews

  • Plan structured interviews to assess each candidate’s fit. This should include behavioral and situational questions.
  • Ask about their previous sales experiences, challenges they’ve faced, strategies they implemented, and results achieved.
  • Inquire about their leadership style and how they motivate and manage a team.

Give Assessment Tasks

  • Consider giving practical tasks, such as presenting a sales strategy for a hypothetical product or analyzing a set of sales data.
  • These tasks can provide insight into their strategic thinking and practical skills.

Check References

  • Contact references to verify the candidate’s past job performance and interpersonal skills.
  • Ask previous employers about the candidate’s ability to meet sales targets, lead a team, and handle pressure.

Evaluate Cultural Fit

  • Assess whether the candidate’s values and work style align with your company’s culture.
  • Cultural fit is crucial for ensuring long-term success and integration within your team.

By thoroughly evaluating each candidate, you ensure that your final choice for a sales manager is well-equipped to lead your sales team to success.

Making the Decision

Narrowing down to one person who will be your next sales manager can often be a difficult task especially if you had attracted a large pool of incredible applicants.

These are the key considerations to help you navigate your way through this stage:

1. Compare Candidates

Review your notes and assessments from the interviews and tasks. Compare each candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and skills.

Consider how each candidate aligns with the job requirements and the company’s culture.

2. Consider Team Dynamics

Think about how each candidate will fit in with the existing team. Their ability to build relationships and work collaboratively is crucial.

If possible, involve key team members in the final stages of the decision-making process for their insights.

3. Salary Considerations

By now, you should already know the market rates for the position and have a budget in mind.

Consider the entire compensation package, including bonuses, benefits, and growth opportunities, to make a competitive offer.

Be prepared for salary negotiations.

4. Make the Offer

Once a decision is made, extend a formal job offer to your preferred candidate. This should include all pertinent details such as salary, benefits, start date, and any other contractual elements.

Be prompt and clear in your communication to demonstrate professionalism and respect for the candidate.

5. Have a Plan B

In case your top choice declines the offer, be prepared with a second-choice candidate.

Having a backup plan ensures you don’t have to start the process from scratch.

6. Feedback for Unsuccessful Candidates

It’s good practice to always provide constructive feedback to candidates who were not selected. This helps maintain a positive relationship and could be beneficial for future openings.

The decision-making process is a balancing act of various factors including skills, experience, cultural fit, and team dynamics. Careful consideration at this stage sets the foundation for a successful addition to your sales team.

Onboarding and Training

A well-structured onboarding process is crucial for helping the new sales manager integrate into the company and understand their role. Here’s how to approach this phase:

  1. Prepare Before the Start Date

Prepare an onboarding schedule that includes meetings with key team members, an overview of company processes and providing access to necessary equipment and systems.

  1. Provide Extensive Training and Development

Provide detailed training on your company’s history, culture, values, products or services, sales processes, and tools used by the sales team.

Discuss the expectations and goals for their role, including short-term and long-term objectives.

  1. Offer Mentoring and Support

Assign a mentor or a point of contact who can assist the new sales manager in navigating through their initial days and answer any questions. This could even be you – the founder/CEO.

Regular check-ins by senior management help to provide support and feedback.

  1. Ensure Seamless Integration with the Team

Facilitate meetings between the new sales manager and the sales team to build rapport and discuss working styles and expectations.

Encourage open communication to foster a good working relationship.

  1. Monitor their Progress

Set up regular review meetings to assess progress and address any challenges the sales manager may be facing.

Offer constructive feedback and recognize achievements to encourage continued improvement.

  1. Offer Continuous Learning Opportunities

Provide opportunities for further professional development through workshops, conferences, and training sessions.

Overall, effective onboarding and training not only ease the transition for the new sales manager but also set the stage for their success and, by extension, the success of the sales team.


To recap, we’ve discussed the importance of clearly understanding the role of a sales manager, crafting a detailed and attractive job description, utilizing various channels for sourcing candidates, and meticulously evaluating each candidate’s fit for the role.

The decision-making process should balance skills, experience, and cultural fit. Once a choice is made, a comprehensive onboarding and training plan is essential to effectively integrate the sales manager into the team.

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