Here’s How We Hired Our Sales Manager

Written by: Andrew Jason

Photos by Paul Flessland

A Step-by-step Guide to Hiring Upper Management

Sure, we’ve hired countless people in my time at Spotlight Media, but never have we spent as much time, effort and resources in the hiring process as we did with our new sales manager, Layne Hanson. Here’s what we learned from the process.

About The Expert

About The Expert Matt Helander is the professional recruiting manager at Express Employment Professionals. He works with people who work in a professional setting—such as accountants, engineers or architects—who are currently employed and are looking for new opportunities.

The Job Application

The job description is really the first stop for potential employees. We spent extra time making sure that every word truly reflected the position. We were about to make a big investment in an experienced person who could make or break our company. Here are some tips we came up with:

• Really think about where you’re advertising this position. Rather than just posting the position on every job board known to man, strategically try and target people with experience. A good way of doing this is by targeting potential employees on LinkedIn.

• In the job description, make sure you clarify that this isn’t just another role. Clearly and thoughtfully articulate that this person must be experienced, knowledgeable and accountable.

• Often times, when employers write job responsibilities, they focus on specific tasks. Think beyond this. Look at the deeper meaning of what you want out of this person.

About The Expert Matt Helander is the professional recruiting manager at Express Employment Professionals. He works with people who work in a professional setting—such as accountants, engineers or architects—who are currently employed and are looking for new opportunities.

Thoughts from the Expert
“Job descriptions, in general, are a necessary evil, but they can never fully capture the full position. There are always a few key points that are very important such as a particular skill set or set of experience. However, more than that, it just comes down to the personality and culture fit. That’s the thing you’re really trying to find when you’re doing professional hiring. You can train skills all day long, but if you get someone in there who isn’t a culture fit, it’s going to be friction forever.

“Job descriptions are really there to disqualify people. It’s great to have, and it’s a good starting point, but you can’t expect to send someone a job description and sell them on a good job that way or really do effective hiring with that alone.”

Job Description
Job Description Build market position by locating, developing, defining, negotiating and closing NEW business relationships for “specialty” print and-digital advertising projects assigned to sales manager. Collaborate on developing the sales process and accountabilities. Manage the day-to-day sales operations.

A Note From Founder & CEO Mike Dragosavich
“Spotlight Media is in the middle of transitioning from a startup to a corporate company. With this transition, we need to find an individual to help lead our sales efforts. As a small company, we are seeking someone who is comfortable in helping build processes, managing people and helping with whatever it takes to help grow the company. This person needs to be comfortable with minimal structure and have an incredible amount of energy and dedication to the role. Specifically, we need someone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and help sell our products while also developing and managing the process. But the best part is that this role is fluid and can adapt into many different experiences.”

Job Responsibilities
• Locate or propose business deals by contacting potential partners and discovering and exploring opportunities for special advertising initiatives

• Manage the development of the sales team

• Identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the sales process and monitor the success based on these indicators

• Coordinate required items to obtain the market-share desired—developing and negotiating contracts with business operations

• Develop strategies for accountability within the sales process

• Other duties as assigned

The Interview

Without a doubt the most important part of the hiring process, you need to be very strategic when interviewing potential employees. You only have two or three opportunities to make sure this person is the right fit:

• Always do several rounds of interviews. We started with a phone interview to make sure Layne was a qualified employee. Next, we did an in-person interview with some staff to expand on his qualifications. We then did another formal interview with some trusted business consultants we work with. Finally, we did an informal interview over dinner and drinks to make sure Layne was a culture fit.

• If you work with any business consultants, we highly recommend you bring them in for an outside opinion on the candidate.

• Clearly define your questions based on which interview you are on. For the first interviews, you want to make sure they have the necessary skills and experiences to succeed at the job. Once you establish their qualification, you can dive in and make sure they are a culture fit.

Thoughts from the Expert
“One thing that I do in our office when we’re hiring for ourselves is what I call a “please say no” document. At the end of our entire interview process—where we’ve laid out the expected responsibilities—I will make a really simple bullet list of all the things that I expect this person to do—with given timelines—and I give it to them, have them take it home, and then I want them to sign and return it to me. This gives them an out of, ‘If you’re not willing to do this or this or this, we need to know about it right now, and it’s not going to be a fit.’

“You present it to them, and it gives them the final brass tacks after all the good feelings. Especially in a sales and sales management role, you need to have clear-cut responsibilities that they need to know up front. It also works really well down the road, say, in an annual review. You go through performance, and if there are some metrics that aren’t measuring up to it, you have this document to say, ‘These were laid out. We didn’t surprise you with this.’ In the rare case where things don’t go well, you have that as a talking point.”

The Onboarding

The first days on a job really set the mood for the rest of an employee’s time at a company. Take some time to plan out how you will lay out their first several weeks:

• Make sure you communicate with the employee before they start. We recommend emailing them a couple of days before their first day with an itinerary of what their schedule will look like. However, when hiring upper management, you should not have to spend too much time training them in on the specific job tasks.

• Go out for dinner or do something fun with the management team. If you are hiring upper management, there’s a good chance that they will be working very closely with the others on the management team. It’s good to build that rapport right away.

• When introducing them to the rest of the staff, make sure you address their qualifications and the reasons you brought them on board. You want to sell the new hire to the rest of your staff.

Thoughts from the expert
“Right before we make an offer, I try and get someone in the office for a job shadow to see what actually happens on a day-today basis. This is more applicable for some positions than others. With some of the clients we work with, it’s not as common. It’s a little bit easier for us to do it in our environment.

“Onboarding is a part that is so company-dependent that there’s no one answer. Whatever your company’s culture values, bring that up. If you’re a tight-knit group whose families know each other, great. If it’s strictly office-business stuff, bring them into a professional setting. I just haven’t seen one kill shot for that part of the hiring process.”

Overall Thoughts from Layne
“I think the thing that stuck out to me was that we both took our time and met several times to get a clear understanding of the expectations on both ends. I feel like I had a full understanding of the culture and expectations for the role, and I had a very good comfort level before I started here on day one.”

Layne Hanson, Spotlight Media Sales Manager.

Share This Article