The sales industry has experienced some of the most challenging conditions over the past year. Some teams still experienced growth, but many did not. One thing that has remained consistent is that the best performing teams have had a high-performing manager at their helm. 

When it comes to sales recruitment, organisations that have developed robust competency models by which to assess sales talent have reaped the benefits. 

Business that are hiring need to become even more focused on the traits and behaviours of sales leaders that will get the best out of the existing sales structure, rather than relying on the successful candidate to generate 80% of the pipeline on their own. So when it comes to hiring a new sales manager, it’s crucial to focus on the following competencies and look for strong examples of success in each area.

Developing team members

Rather than treating a sales team as a singular unit, good sales managers focus on the individuals within the team. They work hard to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the people in their team and understand what drives each of them.

By adopting a flexible, personal approach, they actively support individuals to achieve their specific goals. A strong manager has the vision to help define an individual team member’s career plan and help them to focus on their future goals within the organisation.

RELATED: A leader’s role in a high-performing team

Reinforcement and reward

Aside from implementing and managing an official incentive structure (i.e. salary and bonuses), an effective sales manager will make every effort to recognise and reward good performance wherever possible. 

On-the-spot praise, celebrating success, promoting and developing high flyers and instigating in-house competitions are all positive ways to reinforce these key behaviours and incentivise strong performance.

RELATED: 5 ways to boost employee engagement

Sales coaching and ongoing support

A great sales manager will believe in ongoing development of their team and help them to overcome challenges and achieve their maximum potential. This can be in the form of one-on-one coaching and clear objective setting, as well as helping to facilitate regular training opportunities. 
An open, honest dialogue will need to exist between a sales manager and their employees, and a good sales manager will ensure continuous two-way feedback takes place.

RELATED: Top qualities of successful and empathetic leaders

The ability to motivate others

Working in sales can be highly pressurised, difficult and sometimes disheartening. Morale can have a big impact on the success of the team and a sales manager should recognise this. The ability to inspire confidence, offer encouragement and direction, as well as boost energy and morale are all integral to great sales leadership.

Deep industry and product knowledge

An ideal sales manager will know their product/service and their industry inside out. They will regularly share insights, industry updates and relevant information with their team on to help grow their knowledge, as this best equips them to deal with clients and customers.

That said, hiring managers should consider that there are many brilliant sales managers working in related industries who would require a period of education around a company’s product and customer base, but would then be able to go on to achieve higher levels of success. So keep an open mind about where your next talented sales manager could come from, particularly if they are few and far between in your direct industry or market.

Addressing the sales management skills gap

As the demand for candidates with sales management experience far outstrips supply, organisations must focus on two key areas to attract the best talent in sales recruitment:

  • Attraction – Examine the widest possible segment of the market for potential candidates. Then, design an employee value proposition (EVP) that will attract the type of sales professionals you want, that is, people that understand the role of sales in today’s climate, and are ready to adapt and thrive under continued changing circumstances.
  • Assessment – Hiring managers should take the time to fully examine a candidate’s whole skill set. Importantly, a candidate’s skills in stakeholder engagement and commercial awareness are paramount to the sales industry.


With high potential sales managers in high demand, our recruitment specialists suggest employers could also open their minds to candidates from all different sectors and industries, rather than relying on conventional candidates with industry experience who may command the highest pay rates.

If you’re looking for a recruitment agency with specialist expertise in the sales sector, talk to the team at Michael Page today. 

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