Selecting Great Sales Managers

I had the great privilege of running an Assessment Centre with a client yesterday. We’ve been working together for many months, but this was the first time we’d met face-to-face (he was much taller than I expected!) which was a pleasure in itself.

But what really made the day for me was the energy and commitment brought by the candidates. In this case they were all internal, looking to make the transition from individual contributors to player managers, a key career step for them. And implementing this new layer of management is critical for the scaling up of their very successful, high growth business.

Because we’ve had such an in-depth engagement, we were able to create some immersive role plays using relevant data from their business that probed precisely the behaviours that we wanted to understand – in this case, emotional intelligence and coaching skills. We combined this with classical group exercises, presentations, competency-based interviews and reasoning tests – although we came up with a new twist on the presentation exercise which made it more fruitful (no, it wasn’t the 30/60/90 day plan!).

Underpinning the whole day was a defined competency framework, which enabled us not only to design and assess the exercises but which will form the basis of the individual development plans for each participant. So, a big thank you to my colleagues Jason Walkingshaw (our competency framework guru!) and Emile Hall and Emma Prunier (who played the role of miserable and failing salespeople with a vivid brilliance that brought a tear to my eye).

One of the things that makes me so happy to be working at SBR Consulting is our commitment to deliver value to clients by working from strategy right through to execution. We’re not just here to admire the problem (“Your span of control is too broad“) or scatter some advice around (“You should think about installing a regional sales management layer“). We get right into the trenches with our clients – in this case, creating the competency framework, helping draft the job description, working out sales comp plan options, designing and running the Assessment Centre.

And we’ll be there for the next phase too – fleshing out the development plans, making sure there are metrics for each competency, showing how each individual can get from Foundational Capability to Mastery and running bespoke training to give the whole team a common language and process to coach and support their individual sales contributors. Beyond that, maybe some dedicated support to help set up their Inside Sales Team, maybe something to help onboard new salespeople more quickly and get them up the ramp, maybe a Sales Playbook, maybe some work on methodology …

We’ll see. But whatever we do, I know we’ll bring the same commitment to concrete delivery and business impact which is part of the SBR Consulting DNA.

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