How to Hire Your Next Sales Manager

BY Kathy Crosett
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Are you struggling in your quest to hire your next sales manager? We all know that the core functions of business are: the vision and development of the key product or service and selling. I can also argue that if you don’t hire better sales managers, you’re headed for trouble. But do you know how to hire a sales manager?

If you’re like many business owners, you may be faced with deciding between two different types of candidates to fill your open sales manager position. You can hire the outsider who has a fantastic reputation for running the sales department at a well-​known company. Or you can promote the well-​liked B‑level sales rep in your organization. How do you make the right decision for your company?

Slow down and focus on what sales managers are supposed to do. They are not in the business of selling. They are in the business of motivation. Specifically, they need outstanding people skills in order to coach reps to do their best. When reps are having a bad day or are confused about how to handle a prospect that’s not responding, the sales manager must be there to guide them through the situation.

The Challenge of Managing

Managing employees is a challenging task. Many top-​notch salespeople dream of becoming managers. They want the prestige, and perhaps the extra pay, that comes with the position. They often don’t realize that sales managers get none of the glory when one of their reps lands a whale. But they’ll be the first to feel the heat when a large customer terminates a lucrative business relationship.

In our Voice of the Sales Manager survey, over 62% of respondents agreed that sales team engagement and motivation is the most important skill managers need to be effective in their organization. Do your top candidates have the ability to engage and motivate team members?

If they’re not willing to do the hard work needed to develop their management skills, they shouldn’t be promoted. Specifically, managers must be willing to listen to team members, make assignments fairly, and be able to diffuse emotionally charged situations without losing their cool. 

The Power of Assessments

If you want to know how to hire a sales manager, you have to see what your promising candidates are really like. To figure that out, give them a sales assessment test. A comprehensive assessment will help you understand a candidate’s behavioral tendencies, level of empathy and decision-​making abilities.

Behavioral Tendencies

Great sales managers must be a good fit with the team they’ll be overseeing. Assessments will often tell you if a candidate tends toward dominant or influential behavior in work interactions. If most members of the sales team have steady behavioral tendencies, your candidate could be a good match. If everyone is more dominant, as measured on the DISC model, manager and team member conversations could contain plenty of arguing. The manager and rep fit amounts to a key ingredient in determining the success of your sales department. Keep in mind that our Voice of the Sales Rep survey shows that 22% of reps have left a position because of problems they had with their manager.


Research has consistently shown that sales professionals must be empathetic. This quality is key for sales managers too. You’ll want them to be perceptive when they are working with team members. After all, if they don’t get why a rep is struggling, they’ll be unlikely to get the most out of that employee.


Similarly, when it's time to hire your next sales manager, think about coachability. Sure, these folks have their own way of making decisions. But they must be able to adapt to the new environment they’ll be working in. They should be willing to listen to your advance and make necessary changes. If they score low in this part of an assessment, you could have trouble with them down the road.

Soft Skills

The most successful sales managers possess great soft skills. They’re socially aware and they’re sociable. They don’t lock themselves in their office and study numbers all day. When their team members need help, they’ll ask questions and listen — displaying a healthy level of curiosity. The folks will go the extra mile to get what their team needs to succeed.

Hire Your Next Sales Manager

When you take the time to hire better sales managers, your entire organization benefits. These individuals will help the reps excel in their department. And when it’s time to expand, they’ll also hire better salespeople, ensuring a win for you and your organization. If you're wondering how to hire a sales manager, keep this advice in mind.