Is Hiring Your Next Sales Executive a Career Defining Moment?.

By Mark Hockley

Employing the right leaders for your organisation can be highly rewarding: aside from improved business results, the right leader will deliver positive cultural change, and help you implement and deliver against your vision and strategy.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the sales organisation.  Outstanding results within your sales team leaves you dealing with growth problems, not wrestling with issues of how to reduce costs.

Conversely, if you employ the wrong person, it can result in lost deals and clients, negative morale amongst the rest of the team and potentially the loss of the high performers you do have.  As a business leader, your focus can quickly shift to defensive cost cutting and restructuring.

The question has to be asked: What is the best way to mitigate the risks and ensure you have the best sales leader(s) in your group?

For a role that will have such a large impact on the organisation’s success, you want to do everything you can to ensure you acquire the best possible talent. The chance that the talent you need will respond to an advertisement is a short cut that too often results in a list of candidates that lacks depth and compromises your hiring decision. The very best sales leaders rarely apply to job advertisements because they are too busy – too busy working with their team to close deals, doing exactly what you would like them to be doing for your business.

There are a number of steps you can take to ensure you find and attract the talent you need, without just relying on advertising on job sites.

  1. Take the time to build your network, including researching your competitors. Find out who is having an impact with your clients, who is driving sales and who is building the best sales strategies. Find out how they are doing this.
  2. Build relationship with people in your industry that can provide referrals.
  3. Build relationships with your peers in similar industries, where skills can be easily transferred. They may know of sales leaders ready for a new challenge.
  4. Be methodical in your approach: define what type of person you are looking for (skills, personal qualities, experience), and what steps you will employ to find them. If there is no structure in your approach, then it is impossible to know who you may have missed. If your search becomes stalled, a haphazard approach makes it impossible to know where to go next.
  5. Take the time to learn how to use LinkedIn. LinkedIn, like any database, needs to be mined. It can have a great deal of relevant data available, if you know how to find it.

Once you have identified a list of people to approach, you need to decide how you will contact them, and what message you want to convey. The story needs to be right for your target, and needs to resonate in a way that makes them seriously consider their options. A poor approach will be quickly discounted and also has the potential to permanently damage your brand and your reputation.

Documentation is also important; a Position Description is only half the story. You need to have the context of the role clearly articulated, and some sort of mental model of your ideal candidate.  You need to know what qualities will bring success in your organisation, and how you will assess potential candidates against these criteria.

At Validity, we are uniquely placed to identify high performing sales executives. As a business consulting organisation that coaches and shapes sales leaders across the Asia Pacific region, we have gathered a great deal of knowledge about what makes a high performer, how to identify those traits in a person, and also how to find those people.  Identifying, and then matching the best talent to the unique culture of your organisation is how we deliver successful outcomes.

Drive your business sales performance with outstanding sales leaders and senior sales executives.

If you have are having difficulty finding a high performing sales leader, then please contact either Chris Tandridge or Mark Hockley to see how we can help you.

Mark Hockley – Practice Head, Executive Search (

Chris Tandridge – CEO (

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