Saturday, 24 January 2015


Here’s something to ponder on when you are considering the addition of a new member to your sales team – why would any successful sales professional want to leave their current job if they are good at it and they are being properly rewarded for doing it?


After all, it takes a while to learn about a product range, build up a client base and work on the relationships between salesperson and client that produce ongoing repeat business. It takes time to build trust in that relationship, so why would anyone who has been through that process successfully want to change jobs and come to work for you?

There are, of course, lots of reasons why someone might be considering such a move but not all of them bode well for you as a potential employer.


If the sales professional has been successful in their previous role they may feel that their current employer does not offer sufficient room for growth and development of their career – this is especially true of smaller companies where there are fewer opportunities to progress into management.
Someone in this position may not be too concerned with the salary structure – as long as they were not worse off in moving to you, but would be more motivated by the realistic prospect of a sales manager role at some point in the near future.

When interviewing candidates I personally try to avoid the somewhat clichéd “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” type of question and try to shape the conversation around where the candidate feels his strengths and weaknesses lie and what he feels he has to offer that he cannot offer in his current situation.

Do younger or less experienced colleagues turn to him for advice or guidance? Does he enjoy helping other to gain experience? How does he interact with management and does he find it easy to summarise his day-to-day sales activities into a verbal or written report that can provide management with an accurate idea of the business he expects to be able to deliver in the coming weeks and months?

There are, of course, those whose motivation is simply financial – or at least that is what they will tell you.

I well remember working with a member of my sales team who simply would not consider a management position, despite being absolutely ideal for career progression in that direction.

Whenever the subject of career progression was raised he always declined to get involved with it.

Why was that? As it turns out he was very focused on one thing and one thing only – saving up enough money to put down a realistic deposit and buy a house. He had built up a decent client base through sheer hard work and repeat business was plentiful so he had set himself a timescale in which to achieve his goal and buy that house.

Interestingly, once that goal was achieved he applied for the first management role that came up – and got it!

My point is this – he always did want to progress up the management ladder but the more urgent need at that time was to buy a home for his young family. It was perfectly possible for him to earn more than a newly appointed manager because his extensive and loyal client base were producing large amounts of repeat business so a move into management, despite carrying a higher base salary, would have meant losing valuable commission.

What I failed to do at first was to recognise this fact and interpreted his reluctance to move into sales management as lack of ambition.

There are many things that you simply cannot ask at an interview and this could prevent delving too deeply into someone’s personal circumstances but I could have found out more about him and his intentions by asking about his priorities, how he gets on with management and whether he could interpret sales data in a way that would be meaningful to non-sales staff.

For example, “how would you explain your current sales pipeline to a member of the manufacturing staff, or someone working in the warehouse, or the finance manager?

If the candidate demonstrates an understanding of how his performance might impact others you may get a clue as to whether they are at least starting to think like a manager.

These are qualities and skills to look out for when recruiting sales staff who you can expect to keep on-board for a long time. Let them know that there are opportunities for development within but that they should expect to contribute more than just sales – you are looking for a salesperson that can be an interface between the management of the company and its customers and prospective customers, not just someone who can deliver a sales pitch – although that is, of course, important too.

If all of this sounds a little daunting never fear - there are specialist sales recruiters out there who can help you by supplying candidates who demonstrate all the necessary properties for making a successful move into your organisation. At Aaron Wallis we concentrate of finding the best sales professionals for your requirements so contact us today and find out more.

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