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How to Hire a Sales Director

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July 18, 2022Executive Search Functional Roles Talent Tips

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of sales leaders is expected to be consistent with roughly 37,000 openings each year. In a competitive job market, top sales talent will continue to be in high demand. 

Sales directors are critical to establishing and maintaining an excellent customer experience for businesses. They play a vital role in illustrating a brand’s value propositions and building a foundation of trust to help a company grow its customer base. Companies leading in customer experience surpass their counterparts by almost 80%. Not to mention, 73% of consumers express that customer experience (CX)impacts their purchasing decisions. 

Since this position can significantly impact your business, you want to give your startup or organization the best shot at hiring a top-tier sales director. As a renowned search firm that has helped over 1,000 partners find qualified talent, Hunt Club is here to help you inject your recruitment process with the right focus it needs. Here is your comprehensive guide on how to hire a sales director

What Is a Sales Director? 

A sales director leads a company’s sales efforts, overseeing customer/client relationships while helping the business meet its revenue goals. Some typical responsibilities of a sales director include:

  • Improving a business’ value proposition(s)
  • Tailoring messages to specific markets
  • Fostering and earning trust from key stakeholders and leads 
  • Winning clients, customers, and profits
  • Overseeing the management of sales development representatives (SDRs)
  • Taking market share from competitors 

Why Hire a Sales Director? 

Hiring a sales director for your startup or company offers some of the following benefits:

1. Bolsters Sales Team Performance

An efficient sales director mentors and coaches team members to help them find strategic ways to close more deals and improve workflow processes. 

For example, a sales director can: 

    • Establish a sales pipeline with the marketing department. This may involve refining the sales funnel with unique lead-nurturing strategies based on where prospects and leads are in the buyer's journey. 
    • Coach SDRs/team members. The sales director can focus on helping their teams feel more confident in navigating complex buying decisions to enhance performance. 
    • Build a sales technology roadmap. Sales directors can invest in digital technology to support sales efforts. According to Gartner, building a “future-forward sales technology roadmap” can help streamline sales models, channels, and skill sets when spearheading customer relationships. This may involve leveraging AI to execute tasks and predict outcomes. 

 

2. Drives Revenue

Through unique lead-nurturing strategies and sales tactics, a strong sales director can help boost your organization’s bottom line through the following: 

    • Adjusting and refining a business’ buyer journey over time. The market and industry are constantly changing, and so must businesses. Sales directors play a crucial role in fine-tuning a startup’s or company’s value propositions to stay competitive in the marketplace. 
    • Identifying opportunities to earn more conversions. By collaborating with the CMO or VP of marketing, your sales director can help manage inbound sales leads generated from your company’s marketing channels.

    In addition, your sales director can help align sales and marketing efforts across a series of revenue streams such as: 
    • Go-to-market approach: Providing qualitative insights on customers and prospects
    • Messaging: Sharing the voice of the customer
    • Measurement: Tracking revenue metrics
    • Enablement: Providing feedback before and after utilizing collateral marketing materials with leads
    • Operations: Assessing revenue workflows, technology, and data to achieve sales goals

 

3. Fuels Data-Driven Decisions 

A sales director can ensure the company is hitting and exceeding revenue forecasts. Through the help of a CRM platform, your director can assess specific deals that are a shoo-in, which deals are likely to get lost, and the level of impact each deal has on your bottom line. Data-driven companies earn more revenue and develop successful operating efficiencies. 

A sales director can pull conversion rates, deal size, marketing collateral usage, and competitor analysis reports to: 

    • Assess how sales strategies contribute to company revenue
    • Evaluate how and why sales strategies should change 
    • Initiate discussions with the executive team  

What Are the Responsibilities of a Sales Director?

The responsibilities of a sales director will vary depending on the nature of your business (e.g., goals, outlook, company size), but they generally encompass three main areas: 

1. People 

  • Overseeing sales training programs and assessing areas for improvement 
  • Helping team members/SDRs set up the right milestones to achieve performance and revenue goals
  • Collaborating with relevant marketing and product teams to build out new offerings and align messaging and metrics

2. Data 

  • Establishing performance and revenue metrics
  • Using data to update/improve sales pipeline with accurate forecasting
  • Presenting data to C-level executives to inform them of sales progress and push for specific initiatives and/or budgets
  • Analyzing market trends and unique strengths and weaknesses of a company to improve overall sales performance

3. Client/Customer Relations 

  • Working with clients or customers to better understand their needs, pain points, and goals
  • Leveraging existing customer/client/partner relationships to present the right product/service offerings and drive revenue growth

 

What Is the Role of a Sales Director in a Startup?

A sales director builds credibility and relationships for a growing startup. The sales director would be responsible for building sales processes from the ground up, such as: 

  • Creating a sales team and pipeline 
  • Identifying and establishing performance and revenue metrics 
  • Recommending and launching a CRM software platform (in conjunction with the marketing team) to track metrics

It’s essential to note that a startup sales director's role should be people-centric. According to research, 60% of new ventures fail due to a lack of teamwork and collaboration. Knowledge and expertise alone aren’t enough, especially for a startup. What matters is having a shared entrepreneurial passion and strategic vision—both components amplify team performance. 

Therefore, the sales director at your startup should be someone who is: 

Progress at a startup is never linear, so the sales director—the individual who is front and center when it comes to your product/service—needs to leverage market research to align the visions and goals of team members. 

 

What Is the Role of a Sales Director in a Technology Company?

The tech market is vast and highly competitive, making it crucial to find a sales director who can not only help your business generate revenue but also future-proof your organization. According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that future-proof their workforce hold the competitive advantage to pull ahead of their rivals. 

Here’s what future-proofing your sales team may look like: 

  • Mentoring and coaching: Sales directors should provide training and mentoring opportunities to grow the next generation of sales leaders. Mentoring helps reduce turnover. Moreover, high-quality coaching programs can boost call volume and other sales activities by roughly 25% and annual revenue by 7%
  • Providing flexibility with client/customer relations: McKinsey notes that when a company provides its team with total freedom and authority over client relationships, it leads “to greater sales numbers, customer engagement, and loyalty.” 
  • Breaking down silos between sales staff and leadership: 80% of salespeople choose to leave their jobs due to a lack of connection with administration. Executive leadership plays a vital role in sales retention, so a sales director should open communication channels between their team and leadership. Sales directors can include team members in executive meetings to discuss sales strategies. 

How to Hire a Director of Sales: 5 Skills to Look For

Finding your next executive leader requires mapping out all the necessary skills you need in a top sales director. Here are five skills to look out for. 

1. CRM Software Skills

Strong sales leaders understand the value automation and software can provide to a sales team. They understand leveraging technology can provide team members more time to focus on scaling their business. 

Thus, a qualified sales director carries expert CRM software skills and experience to: 

    • Launch a platform with relevant dashboards.
    • Provide accurate and up-to-date reports to teams. 
    • Train other team members on how to navigate the CRM platform. 

2. Advanced Analytical Skills

Not only does a qualified sales director understand how to set up data, but they also know how to analyze it to make smart and meaningful decisions. 

For instance, a sales director may need to: 

    • Determine how and why sales strategies should change based on competitor analysis. 
    • Balance advantages and disadvantages of a sales strategy and brainstorm a trade-off. 
    • Tap into lead or customer data to suggest how the product team can adjust a product or service.
    • Analyze SQL performance to assess whether MQLs need to be better aligned with the sales process.

3. Collaboration Skills 

Your sales director will play a vital role in how your product, service, and brand are presented in the marketplace, so your ideal candidate will have the collaborative skills to work with key stakeholders to assess: 

  • Costs
  • Competition
  • Supply and demand

This allows them to identify new selling prices and opportunities. 

4. Emotional Resilience 

A strong sales director possesses emotional resilience. Sales is a very human-centric role that involves establishing authentic relationships with customers/clients. This personal aspect merits someone who has the fortitude to carry all the rejection and interpersonal conflicts that come with the job. 

Depending on the needs of your team, you may identify specific emotional resilience characteristics that would be most valuable, such as:

    • Grit: They don't take rejection personally. Instead, they see it as a learning opportunity. Studies illustrate that those who can approach rejection with optimism are more productive and likely to stay in their role for a longer period of time. 
    • Action-oriented mindset: Instead of mulling over rejection or client issues, a sales director with emotional resilience moves forward, focusing on: 
      • The next sale, email, or phone call
      • Necessary action items to execute to alleviate the situation

They do both with patience and tact, setting a great example for the team. Moreover, this action-oriented approach can enhance your company’s reputation.

    • Empathy: Empathy allows a sales director to understand the wants, needs, and emotions of your target audience. This helps them develop a strategy based on human traits that allows them to be successful and provide a great customer experience.

    The customers and clients your business serves are human beings looking to acquire real value. Thus, your future sales director must understand and respect this. 
  •  

Every client/customer is different, so finding a leader who can inject your sales strategy with the customization it merits is essential. If a company provides a personalized experience, consumers are 80% more likely to convert. 

5. Coaching Skills

The ideal sales director must have coaching expertise to instill emotional resilience, strong speaking skills, and the ability to pivot ideas and tasks efficiently. They must also be able to teach their team members how to understand your company’s sales enablement practices and sales cadence. Gartner reports that when sales leaders provide coaching to team members, businesses experience an average 8% increase in sales performance.

Assessing one’s level of coaching experience may involve asking questions about the candidate’s: 

    • Level of involvement in working with sales or business development representatives
    • Strategy or approach in coaching team members 
    • Approach to handling conflict among team members
    • Success in improving team and organizational performance via coaching methods

 

Find the Right Sales Director with Hunt Club

Whether you are a startup poised to grow quickly, or a more established organization looking to fine-tune and optimize your sales strategies, the Hunt Club team can help you source and identify the right sales director for your business. 

Hunt Club’s talent sourcing software leverages the power of relationships and referrals to help you recruit the most qualified candidates smarter and faster. Learn more by reading through our case studies, and gain access to our network of 15K+ experts today!

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Kristin Bachman avatarKristin Bachman