How Do You Identify a Good Sales Leader in a Digital World?

December 7, 2020 Mina Morris

First published on LinkedIn


As the working world shifts through a multitude of technology changes, one of the biggest impacts is on sales processes. Sales roles in industries like retail are being dramatically disrupted as technology can automate much of the sales cycle. In other sectors, sales has been made more complex, through working remotely and challenging market conditions, meaning sales people at all levels need to work in multi-faceted ways. As a result, sales processes are being optimized to meet customer needs, wherever those customers are located and however they want to buy.

In the past, leaders in sales used to be those who could create the strong relationships, often quickly, confidently finding ways to resonate with a customer, and they moved up the ladder to build teams. Hiring talent that fit that profile was easily understood in the interview process. Many will remember the “sell me this pen” interview test, where a candidate demonstrated their relationship-building and needs analysis skills, while promoting relevant features to the “buyer”/interviewer. If someone could negotiate this interview test, then the rest was considered trainable.

That’s all changed now.

Sales leaders for our changing world

Whoever you hire in sales has to have the ability to adapt to the future...

As sales processes becomes more sophisticated, solving problems has become a vital capability. The ability to understand the buyer, business and brand is increasingly essential as sales becomes more of a connector than a differentiator. And, as data becomes more easily available and grows in importance, the ability to interpret and connect the dots between sales strategies and activities is essential.

Sales leaders also need to understand by thinking about how they optimize their resources, as growing pressures may mean they have to ‘do more with less’ .

It’s widely accepted that the salesforce is often the most important and expensive part of a company’s operations, so getting the right people with the right capabilities is essential. What good looks like for one business will be entirely different from a competitor. Every company has unique needs – specific abilities, behaviors, competencies and skills that correlate with KPIs. Defining this profile is key to calculate a benchmark to score candidates against, to drive sales hire successes in a bias-free way. The old style of recruiting – using CV’s or someone’s successes at a competitor – are not sophisticated ways of hiring. This can show in results, often seen if someone has jumped ship for a better offer and then doesn’t achieve what’s expected.

There are also a range of new elements to consider. Whoever you hire in sales has to have the ability to adapt to the future, especially in a person-to-person role because we don’t know what the future will look like. For example, in some sales roles, the ability to look at data and trends to inform sales activity is likely to be crucial.

To help businesses hire the right salespeople, Aon has created an off-the-shelf Salesforce Effectiveness assessment process for hiring managers, so they can cost-effectively understand who the best people are for their needs, creating the teams needed to drive results.

It guides companies through the four key sales processes: creating opportunities, generating solutions, closing deals and delivery – where each has different skills and competencies needed to successfully do the role. The process helps hiring managers to assess and evaluate flexible, future and results-focused sales people who will fit the organization’s needs.

Get in touch to learn more about how Aon’s Human Capital Solutions can help align your sales talent strategy to your business strategy.

About the Author

Mina Morris

Mina Morris is a Partner with Aon’s Assessment Solution Practice. As an organizational psychologist, Mina works with clients to maximize the effectiveness of their talent selection processes, implement talent management systems and helps organizations manage change. Mina has extensive global experience partnering with clients in North America, Asia Pacific, and Middle East to deliver human capital solutions that help deliver business results.

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