<#009> How to choose the right profile for your sales team in 4 simple steps

Hiring the right salespeople is one of the toughest things for new and existing brands alike. Read the 4 steps to get it right.

<#009> How to choose the right profile for your sales team in 4 simple steps
Photo by Austin Distel / Unsplash

I get often asked about the secret sauce for hiring the right team. I’m not a big fan of silver bullets. I will give you a different perspective on this challenge to help you find the right profile for your brand.
It all goes back to your goal in a particular market. Are you launching a new brand? Do you need to rejuvenate it? Are you changing your channel focus from bars to bottle shops? Are you about to scale to modern retail and need to step change?
The biggest challenge is that people tend to get stuck in Job Titles. 99% of the time I hear a request featuring a job title: I am looking for a Sales Director, a Brand Ambassador, and a Junior Business Development Manager. All those words are meaningless without a deep dive into what you expect from them.
People often think that by giving it a name, people will get on the same page. Not. It creates chaos because people respond to job ads based on the title making assumptions. They overlook the actual tasks instead of finding the devil in the detail.
How many times have you seen a Sales Director that is managing one or actually no people? I call it the king without the kingdom.

Let’s dig into the 4 steps to get the right profile for you:

Deep dive into the previous industry experience

The most common request on job descriptions is “previous industry experience”. While this can help, it is often overestimated. There are crucial sub-questions to that:

  • Size of Brand. Having experience with a big brand with a big budget won’t do much if you have a small craft brand. It will create frustration as the person might not be able to deliver the job as they used to.
  • Brand building stage. Launching a brand from scratch with little money ≠ and working on a big brand that everyone knows.
  • Tasks. Signing new deals ≠ growing rate of sale in existing accounts. Also, working with a distributor sales team ≠  selling alone.
  • Bar vs Sales experience: Experience can mean many things. Was the person working behind the bar or was he/she working for a brand?
  • Brand positioning and commercial proposition: what type of brands did they work with? Were they focusing on On or Off-trade? Were they selling to big groups and chains or to independent outlets? Which cities or areas were they focusing on?

People can learn and develop but if you are hiring somebody because of their past experience, make sure you have a clear picture of it.  What kind of knowledge do they have vs what do they need to develop? Both parties must know what they are getting into.

Rules of engagement. Be specific.

Our industry is very peculiar. It’s often perceived as a “work hard - play hard” career. It's rooted in entertainment so our life stages can affect it quite a lot. I see it with myself. I don’t go out or at least I don’t stay out as much as I used to 10 years ago. It’s not only about age but about the life stage I am in (i.e. with a small child). Many things might be temporary and others may be permanent life choices. There’s nothing wrong with it but both parties should consider them.
There are a lot of issues in the industry because many people use these factors to discriminate. This is the result of ignorance. Many people think that this industry is only about being out every night and staying up late. There are many tasks that you can achieve during the day but they need to be in scope for that role.
What’s important is to manage expectations. You don't want someone to get into the role and leave it after 3 months because they got into something they didn't want.
What are the working hours? Are weekends working days? Some tasks can only be for certain times of the day/week (e.g. consumer events on a Saturday night). Others can happen earlier and during the day (e.g. staff training on a Monday afternoon). Very often I also see managers hiring part-time sales teams. That can also only work if the working hours are well thought-through.
It's about being specific to understand if that person can perform the job. Both parties need to acknowledge it to avoid future issues. Be transparent.

Understand Pros & Cons of an existing network