9 Skillsets Hiring Managers Look for
in Sales Executive Candidates

See also: Customer Service Skills

When hiring managers are looking to fill an open sales executive role, they keep an eye out for candidates with certain abilities that show they'll crush it in a leadership position. What are the key skillsets that get hiring managers to perk up when reviewing resumes?

Let’s look at the nine must-have capabilities that will improve a candidate’s odds of success in the competitive sales arena.

1. Strategic Thinkers

Sales execs need to always have their strategic thinking cap on. They have to analyze sales trends, competition, and performance stats to keep their sales team ahead of their quota. Hiring managers want candidates who can set ambitious sales goals and spot new business opportunities that will expand existing relationships while bringing in new business.

As a sales manager, they will not only need to develop their strategic plan for organizational success, but also guide team members in creating and executing their individual plans. This is where a logical reasoning test comes into play when evaluating candidates. These tests measure critical thinking and problem solving capabilities, and can gauge the sales executive’s ability to work through problems.

2. Boss-Level Leadership

No surprise here - strong leadership is make-or-break for sales execs. They need to motivate and rally the troops to hit peak performance. Hiring managers are looking for talent who can communicate an inspiring vision, build teamwork, and fire up a passion for selling across the sales squad. Standout leaders who coach, mentor, and empower their sales reps have a leg up.

This goes way beyond motivational speeches and performance reviews. Leaders should be direct with their subordinates but also supporting. They should ask their team how they liked to be managed. Everyone’s personality is different and so too is how people like to be led.

Another important aspect of leadership that will fire up the troops is understanding what motivates them. What are their professional goals in the short and long term? How can a sales leader help them achieve these goals?

A leader who approaches their team with a sense of humility and from a supportive angle will build a team who is willing to go the extra mile to achieve company goals.

3. Expert Communication

For hiring managers, stellar communication is non-negotiable when looking for sales execs. Sales leaders must communicate clearly and influence others through public speaking, writing, listening, and presenting. Folks who can tailor messages to different audiences, simplify complex info, and deliver high-impact messages have an advantage. Strong communicators thrive as sales execs.

In addition, sales execs need to be able to clearly communicate across all formats ranging from addressing the entire sales organization in-person or using a 1:1 team communication app when dealing with remote team members. In an ever growing and changing work environment, having a remote first communication mindset is increasingly important for sales team management.

4. Data Analysis Abilities

With tons of sales data out there, hiring managers want candidates who know how to unpack the metrics to gain insights and make smart strategic decisions. Aces will have experience collecting, interpreting, and presenting CRM, business intelligence, and other sales data. Sales leaders who can take that data and interpret it in a unique way or apply it to find better, faster or cheaper ways to increase results are the diamonds in the rough.

Execs who use analytics to identify challenges and opportunities show they can spearhead evidence-based strategies to boost sales.

5. Relationship Building Expertise

Sales execs have to leverage relationships to align teams and drive collaboration toward sales goals. Hiring managers value people-persons who can build productive relationships with sales reps and cross-functional partners in marketing, finance, etc.

Candidates who foster teamwork and cooperation will shine in a sales exec role, especially those who can align team members' goals with company objectives and provide motivation.

An added benefit when identifying the best sales exec for a role is those who bring their own personal network to the company. Imagine hiring a new sales leader who on day one already has a pipeline of new potential high-end sales opportunities which immediately offset the cost of the hire. How valuable would that be?

6. Negotiation Ninja

Killer negotiation skills are essential for sales execs looking to seal favorable deals with customers. Hiring managers look for persuasion artists who actively listen and build consensus to close complex, high-value deals. If someone has a proven track record of overcoming objections and reaching win-win agreements, that's clutch.

This usually goes hand in hand with candidates who are excellent public speakers but not always. These leaders will be able to identify potential customer pain points extremely quickly and identify potential issues and solutions that the customer didn’t think of.

7. Tech Savvy

In today's digital sales landscape, sales execs need significant tech skills. Hiring managers want candidates with experience using innovative tech sales tech stacks that move the needle for their teams. Some of these tools in a cutting-edge tech stack could include:

A good sales executive should bring fresh new ways for a sales team to leverage or upgrade their tech stack for increased performance and organizational efficiency.

8. Customer-Centricity

Hiring managers look for sales execs who keep customers at the heart of everything they do. Sales leaders should understand customer needs and guide teams to deliver 5-star experiences. Candidates who show customer empathy, industry/buyer knowledge, and commitment to satisfaction demonstrate the potential to lead customer-focused sales teams.

9. Creative Problem Solver

Sales execs often hit complex roadblocks that require out-of-the-box thinking. Hiring managers want candidates who can get creative to strategically tackle challenges. Innovative problem-solvers who take smart risks and persist through obstacles bring major value as sales execs.

Finding the Ideal Candidate

By evaluating candidates across these key areas, hiring managers can identify and recruit prime sales leadership talent ready to deliver results and skillfully manage high-performing sales teams. The ideal candidate will demonstrate they've got the complete package today's data-driven and digital sales landscape demands.

About the Author

Matt Shealy is the President of ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.