Good sales people do not grow on trees. Sales managers and HR departments know this all too well. In this reading, you will get valuable tips to considerably improve your recruiting as well as the onboarding sales process.

Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them

Sales positions are abundant. A search on the Austrian career portal draws the following picture:

(Visited 05.02.2016):

2463 Jobs in sales and customer services
– from those
1332 jobs for Account Managers
131 jobs for Key Account Manager
108 jobs for Sales Managers


With this is sales/distribution on the podium, only behind technology/engineering and IT / IT / organisation. A large number of sales people are being sought, yet found are not so many.

Sales staffing requirements have changed

The use of Omni-Channel strategies is unavoidable in times of the ongoing digitisation of business processes and thus also of purchasing. Nonetheless, one thing is getting clearer and clearer: It takes people who are empathising and trusting to buy products and services.

The buyers are nowadays better informed than ten years ago. They are no longer looking for an “explainer” sales person, no. What customers need today is a solution-oriented sales rep. These new Key Account Managers should have, on the one hand, the ability to build relationships, to build trust. On the contrary, modern sales people should be capable of maintaining customer relationships in the long term.

Another key point is the sales pace. Only if your sales staff quickly provide the information the customer wants, your company will be able to score the important or even decisive points. If this information is well communicated and presented, the customer, the buyer, will most likely use it for internal communication.

Reactive sales is also gaining

It is often argued that the sales department does not have enough time to react quickly and with flexibility. It is busy with administrative activities and fighting coordination with other departments – everything tied to time management.

The sales personnel should still have enough time to devote themselves to the core task of selling. It is a sales management’s duty to provide for it.

The following points ensure a positive buying experience for the customer and enable sales to demonstrate responsiveness:

>> Respond to any customer request within 24 hours of initial contact. Document the main points discussed, recap the objectives of the sales call, the customer requirements and the agreed next steps.

>> In contract negotiations, it is critical to have decision-maker on your side. Having the decision-maker on your side ensures a smooth transition from discussion to closing.

Intern Service Level Agreement (iSLA)

Establish clear KPIs and ensure compliance. Both the sales manager, as every interested stakeholder (service, marketing, i.e.), must know which sales activities are to be completed and when. Since no business is won until the customer placed an order, the routine activities with customer-specific requirements should be optimally coordinated.

Job profile for the perfect sales executive

Unfortunately many times, especially for sales executive, the job description is not worth the paper on which it is printed. It is essential for B2B sales leaders to describe exactly what they are expecting from sales executives. A comprehensive description also helps potential applicants to quickly evaluate whether the job and conditions are exciting. An excellent job description for sales managers should include, among others:

>> Company Vision, Plan and Business Goals
>> The most important information about the sales plan and KPIs
>> Geographical area (coverage or sales region)
>> Expected office time vs time on the road
>> Remuneration structure (fixed / variable)

For fairness sake, sales leaders should consider a ramp-up clause for the variable part of a salary. Sales rainmakers are rarely fallen from heaven. Depending on the average sales cycle of a company’s projects, this clause can be defined in such a way that the average newcomer arrives at 70 to 80 % of his estimated OTE (“on-target” earnings) at the end of this ramp-up period.

A ramp-up period with a certain number of existing key accounts is also very welcome. Why? Because this fires up newcomers. Being sales one of the most important parts of any business, a poorly motivated sales force will cost not only money but also customers and market share.

Hiring the wrong sales executive can cost a B2B company around 40.000 Euros (just in direct costs).

The Toolbox

The Mystery of B2B Sales, which is partly purposely maintained, can be quickly understood by simple means. As in many other professions, selecting the right tool is a significant contribution to success. Particularly in this area, the modern development of the last few years has led to a boom of great and inexpensive tools for sales.

For example, any organisation should nowadays use a tool to manage projects and sales pipeline. This software should automatically create pipeline and sales reports. Crucial is to replace Excel lists and reports. It is an important task of sales management to ensure a smooth integration of the pipeline tool with CRM, ERP and similar tools.

„Speed eats talent for breakfast.“

What type is the perfect sales executive for your organisation?

The answer to the above question depends obviously on who your customers are, how big your business is, how your company is organised, and what market phase you are in.

Regardless of how you define the perfect sales executive, one thing is sure: A sales star is a marathon runner with sprint qualities. She needs the patience to build relationships. After the tenth rejection, her intrinsic motivation strengthens her perseverance. If, however, there is a blow in the offering phase – usually when negotiating – then the right tempo is required to bring the closing to the pocket.

Use your potential

According to the CRM study “Sales Efficiency 2012/13” by Walter Zimmermann, 34.3 % of the available resources in sales lays unused. In plain words, one in three of your sales executives is going nowhere.

If in many areas of an enterprise employed capacity is reaching a limit, it still has a – very – big room for improvement in sales.

A sales leader should champion and accompany sales. This attitude does not only mean hiring the right sales executives but also providing support in the form of coaching, training and regular exchange rounds.

Increased self-confidence leads to a reduced evasive behaviour and finger-pointing in sales. Star sales executives have a natural optimistic approach to any seemingly impossible sales challenge. For example, focus your sales resources on the accounts with undiscovered sales potential and do not waste your time flogging dead horses.

Self-organization, and the ability to work in a structured way, ensure sales efficiency and success. Also, this promotes sales executive motivation and increases profitability for your company.


Translated with permission from Original in German | How to Find Sales Superstars (in German) | SalesExpert.AT 2016 Franz-Xaver Burner