10 Tips For Hiring a Sales Director

6 min

When businesses look to amplify their sales performance, many turn to the support of a sales...

When businesses look to amplify their sales performance, many turn to the support of a sales director. Sales directors play a pivotal role in overseeing the operations of an organization's sales team, helping to plan company progression, hit sales goals and build relationships with customers and clients. We understand how a director of sales can drive change for businesses of all sizes and know it can be challenging to attract professionals within this space. That's why, in this article, we will outline 10 tips for how to hire a sales director to help you overcome your hiring pain points. 

Before we look at the 10 tips, let's look at what a sales director does and why you should consider hiring a director of sales.  

What does a sales director do?

Sales directors, also commonly known as a director of sales, are an essential part of a business and are responsible for overlooking and managing the operations of a sales team. Often they will work alongside a company's board of directors and support with forecasting the growth of the business. 

A sales director will support a business by projecting industry trends and analyzing sales data to understand buying habits to target a customer base while helping with product and service launches. In addition, they will liaise with the marketing team to ensure a business's offering is being promoted effectively and aligned with the goals and objectives of the organization.   

Why hire a sales director?

There are many reasons why businesses worldwide hire a director of sales. From a desire to achieve and exceed sales targets, bolster the performance of an existing sales team, and drive revenue for the business to creating more focused and effective sales strategies. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to hire a sales director, you should answer the question to ensure you have a justifiable reason to make this senior-level hire. 

To help you with your decision-making, we've provided reasons why you need to hire a sales director.

  • You have a desire and the budget to grow your sales team
  • Your existing salespeople require direction and need more leadership and management support
  • You want to drive revenue for your business
  • You want to stay on top of the latest trends within your industry
  • Your board of directors and marketing team require additional sales expertise 
  • Your company wants to branch out its sales operations to other markets and target a different customer and client base
  • You feel your business needs to focus its sales goals better and align targets with the objectives of the company
  • You are more frequently losing deals to your competitors 
  • You are in the process of launching new products and services 
  • Your existing sales director is due to be away from the business for a set period. For example, they are going on maternity, a sabbatical, or retiring

How to hire a Director of Sales

Now we’ve explored the influence a sales director can have on your business, it's time to explore our 10 tips for how to hire a sales director. These 10 tips outline some of the key things to take into account if your business is considering the possibility of hiring a director of sales and some of the ways you can attract top talent to your business. 

1. Recognize the various sales director responsibilities

When thinking about how to hire a sales director, one of the first things you should do is outline the responsibilities you'd want your talent to be accountable for. These responsibilities can be positioned to your new recruit to ensure they know what you expect of them, ensuring you and your sales director are aligned and on the same wavelength. To give you more context, here are some of the typical responsibilities of a sales director. 

  • Oversee and manage the performance of the sales team
  • Set goals, objectives, and targets for the salespeople within the business
  • Ensure the sales reps stay motivated 
  • Identify skills gaps within the team and provide training and support to overcome this
  • Monitor industry trends and keep an eye on competitors
  • Analyse and report on data collected from the sales of products and services
  • Discover opportunities for growth, for example, new markets and target audiences
  • Plan and implement sales campaigns and strategies aligned with the goals of the business
  • Support with the sales recruitment process of new talent 
  • Liaise with the board and marketing team and support with product and service launches

2. Sales director skills and qualifications

To carry out the responsibilities listed above, you must ensure the sales director you bring into your organization is equipped with the necessary skills and qualifications. So, when screening candidates, you should look for certain qualifications within their resumes and question or assess them on their skill sets before making a hire. We’ve compiled a list of some of the key skills and qualifications to look out for when hiring a director of sales. 

  • Fantastic interpersonal communication skills
  • An excellent leadership and management ability
  • Capable of managing budgets
  • Great awareness of industry trends
  • Solid time management skills
  • Able to plan and forecast sales strategies and campaigns
  • IT skills with a solid ability to articulate and present sales data 
  • Strong negotiation and sales skills
  • BA in business, marketing, or a similar field
  • Proven extensive experience in sales roles 

3. Write a compelling sales director job description

Once you’ve outlined the responsibilities and skills you require your sales director to have, you should begin to write a compelling job description. Sales directors are always in-demand, and candidates within this niche are never short of opportunities. Therefore, you must ensure your job descriptions stand out and engage with the people you want to attract. You should aim to sell your company to candidates and detail why they should work for you - from your culture, company benefits, bonuses, and career progression. Ultimately, you want to make the role seem as attractive as possible. 

4. Post your vacancies on job boards

When you’ve created your job descriptions, you should start posting your vacancies on job boards to attract the top candidates to your business. Traditional job boards like Indeed, Totaljobs, and Glassdoor are great hubs for finding talent, including your future director of sales. They can also be an insightful tool to see how your competitors position their sales director job descriptions to help you better focus your postings. 

5. Utilize networking opportunities

From the social media platforms like LinkedIn, reaching out to your connections within the sales industry via the appropriate channels to attending networking events, utilizing networking opportunities is another way to find candidates to fill your sales director vacancy. You could also set up a referral scheme and ask your existing salespeople to use their own networks to find talent and offer a reward if they successfully find someone for the role.

6. What to look for in a sales director resume

When applications for your vacant sales director role start piling in, you need to focus your efforts on reviewing the resumes before determining who you want to shortlist for an interview. When reviewing candidate resumes, you should look for candidates with proven experience in transforming sales teams and driving the sales performance of businesses. You should also consider if they have the skills you require for the role and if they demonstrate a deep enough knowledge of the products, services, and markets you operate in - this can be further clarified at the interview stage. 

7. Determine your director of sales interview questions

Once you’ve determined a shortlist of candidates you want to interview for the position, it’s important to consider what questions you want to ask each candidate to ensure you are hiring the best person for the role. You should position open-ended questions based on the individual resume while asking them why they applied for the role and what skills make them a suitable hire, focusing on questions that uncover their leadership and management ability. 

Depending on how many interview stages you feel are necessary to determine the right fit for your business. You could also ask the candidate to complete a relevant task like a presentation to help assess their suitability. Additionally, you should always ensure your interview panel is diverse.

We’ve created a list of questions you could ask your director of sales candidates: 

  • How will you get the best out of the salespeople you oversee?
  • What is the greatest obstacle you’ve faced in your sales career, and how did you overcome this?
  • When have you had to hold other team members accountable for their role in achieving the business's sales goals?
  • What would you do to improve our sales strategy? 
  • How do you utilize data to drive sales? 
  • What is your most outstanding achievement in your sales career and why?

8. Look into contracting recruitment

You may want to tailor your job description to target contractors if you do not intend or are in a position to make a permanent hire. Hiring a sales director on a temporary, fixed-term deal as a contractor is a cost-effective and flexible solution to helping you overcome your recruitment challenges. You can find contractors in sales director roles via job boards and networking opportunities, as mentioned above. 

Here are some reasons why you might hire a contractor for your director of sales position. 

  • You need to make an immediate hire
  • Your current sales director is due to be away from the company. For example, they could be going on maternity, and you don’t want to replace them permanently
  • You may wish to trial how the role of a sales director in your business before committing to a permanent hire
  • Your business doesn’t have the finances to fund a director of sales salary
  • You don’t have the resources to train and support an existing salesperson who has the potential to become a sales director

9. Consider talent with transferable skills

Another tip for hiring a sales director is finding talent with transferable skills. For example, a marketing or finance director could have some of the skills you require for the sales director role and could be a viable option. They could apply for the position directly, or you could approach them to see if they would be interested. Their transferable skills, like leadership and management, could allow them to transition into the role seamlessly.

Alternatively, you may have a salesperson within the company you feel has the potential to step up to a more executive-level position. You could promote this person internally and provide sales training and support to get them up to speed with the director role. 

10. Seek support from sales director recruitment agencies

Our final tip for how to hire a sales director comes in the form of seeking support from a recruitment agency. Executive recruiters will specialize in helping you find the director-level talent you need to amplify your sales team. They will work with you to determine the type of individual you’re looking for and will have a network of diverse candidates for you to select from. Additionally, they can support you through every step of the recruitment process, from interviewing to onboarding.

Seeking support from sales director recruitment agencies is an excellent solution if your internal HR or talent acquisition team requires further assistance or you don’t have the resources to recruit in-house. 

Hire a sales director with Pareto’s executive search

If you are looking for a director of sales to enhance your organization's performance but need further support with how to hire a sales director, we can help. We have been amplifying businesses with top talent for over 25 years globally and are here to help you realize your potential. Discover how Pareto’s executive search solution and executive sales roles can take you to the next level. Alternatively, contact us today to find out how we can best support you.

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