The impact of this is twofold:
1- CEOs are spending too much time trying to find a super star sales leader. They have been burned so often in the past they view this decision as high risk. These leaders should be creating value by developing strategy, forming partnerships, making acquisitions, etc. not playing the role of sales recruiter.
2- Candidates are spending too much time trying to land their dream jobs. This detracts from their performance in their current role. These sales leaders should win the new job or commit to the current job, fast.
Here are the 5 most important questions my CEO friends tell me they ask when interviewing sales leaders:
1- Can this candidate hit the number quickly? (Note: speed is paramount)
2- Can I get my hands on verifiable proof that assures me this candidate has produced in the past?
3- Is the amount of disruption this candidate will cause proportional to the amount of disruption the company can handle?
4- How will the customers react to him or her?
5- Is this candidate better than, equal to, or worse than the person in the same job at my top 3 competitors?
I have sat in on these interviews. Here are my suggestions on what to do when asked these questions.
- Lay out your sales strategy on a time line showing the CEO how long it will take to produce results.
- Bring your last 5 compensation plans and last 5 tax returns to the interview. Sales leaders get paid based on performance. If the tax return shows an annual income greater than the target compensation amount, you have proven you can produce.
- When providing references provide customer and team references instead of former boss references.
- Build profiles of the 3 sales leaders atop the top competitors and provide a compare and contrast to yourself.
If you would like to see examples of great sales leaders who recently landed their dream jobs, check out my friend Paul Rolls at IDT Inc. or my friend John Gleason from Ryder, or my friend Lee Wood from Thomson Reuters.