As companies look to rebuild market share and grow after losses experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, many clients are contacting BIC Recruiting about hiring sales or business development managers. When you think about hiring a new sales leader, what requirements are most important to you? The two most-requested traits we hear from hiring managers are a “proven track record” and a “strong book of contacts.” These are particularly important right now as it is harder than ever to meet with prospects and clients in traditional ways. However, I would like to suggest there are additional qualities that set truly great sales/business development managers apart, and these are the key traits I recommend you focus on in your hiring process:
Proactive and takes initiative. A great sales/business development manager will always look for what needs to be done and do it regardless of how challenging it may be in today’s market. They’re always ready to jump in and put in that extra effort to save or land a contract. They will be involved throughout the sales process and will follow up with the client once the job has been turned over to operations.
Humble and passionate about what they do. Great business development managers are humble about what they do and often credit the team rather than taking credit themselves. They’re also passionate about what they do. This is an individual who loves his or her job and is always looking for creative, “out of the box” ways to grow.
Curious and innovative. Great sales leaders look at an issue and find a simple or alternative solution. They improve existing processes or create new processes, if needed. A sales leader recently shared with me that he was playing a lot of golf. His clients and prospects weren’t able to meet at the plant due to COVID-19 safety restrictions; however, they were eager to get out. His creative solution was to meet over golf, because it’s outdoors, meets the client’s safety parameters and is a great venue for extended conversations. It’s also made him very memorable to his clients. He provided a solution to their workplace “pain points” and their personal ones. Great salespeople ask clients about their pain points and then show how they can provide creative, unique solutions.
Caring and empathetic. Great business development managers genuinely care about the people around them. They engage others to learn about them and are quick to recognize others’ accomplishments. They have the ability to influence because of their high level of empathy. They put themselves in the other person’s place and see things from their perspective. This enables them to not just empathize, but to connect on a deeper level and, in many cases, see the solution or opportunity the client hasn’t seen.
Adept at solving problems. Great salespeople anticipate problems and are proactive rather than reactive. They often see a problem before others do, and they think creatively to find alternative solutions. They are confident in their abilities and focus on identifying the solution rather than worrying about the problem.
Thinks positively and drives change. When you interview business development managers, you’re looking for the candidate who sees the glass as half full. Positive employees are more likely to succeed, and their positivity will rub off on their teammates and motivate them. Great business development managers aren’t afraid to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo to improve it.
Has stamina. Sales cycles can be very long, especially right now, and involve a lot of back-and-forth negotiation as well as a lot of follow up. Look for someone who’s going to be persistent at turning a “no” into a “yes.”
Has integrity. Most importantly, great sales leaders do the right thing for their clients even when it’s against their own best interest. They can be trusted to put their employers and their clients first.
Focus on these additional qualities as you interview potential sales/business development managers. It’s unlikely you’ll find someone who has every trait, but finding an individual with at least a few will ensure you have a great sales leader.