An organisation’s sales director has always been a pivotal role. It doesn’t matter how great your business’s product or service is, if it fails at the final hurdle of sales. However, in the tighter economy which is only just taking tentative steps towards recovery, and isn’t yet on a firm footing, sales director jobs are even more crucial to the success of the business.
At Eagle Headhunters, we know that 2021 is a challenging time for businesses. But it’s also a challenging time for sales director candidates too. Those who succeed in finding the next role which is right for them need a notably different approach to times gone by.
How can candidates find sales director jobs that will provide this elevated level in their career? And how can employers be sure that the individual they recruit is suited to driving success in a post-pandemic world where the landscape looks notably different?
Firstly, both candidates and businesses need to realise that the attributes that made someone a suitable and skilled sales director in 2019 have changed. Yes, those same attributes of a pace-setting sales-pro are essential, but successful directors now need more. To be capable of leading the sales function forward through unsteady times and onward towards a new normal that recognises digital transformation and changing business models, candidates must be able to show:
The pandemic scenario has led to introspection and shattered visions. Sales directors need to reassert a clear vision to inspire their sales force, within the new framework of the business and the obstacles to operations. They need to be able to look ahead, beyond the impact of the pandemic, and conceptualise what sales success will look like.
Directors can no longer view digital fluency and progress as a separate adjunct to their business processes. Digitisation isn’t just about the tools of doing the sales job. Instead, digitisation will drive sales. The sales arena has had to adapt radically, moving away from the concept of showmen with the gift of the gab that go from site to site selling their wares. Whilst elements of a mobile workforce will always remain in sales, that workforce is now more remote, less tangible, and catering to sales in a digitally led way.
This leads onto the concept that the role of the sales director will be to drive innovation in how sales are done. The role of the sales director isn’t just to ensure the machination of sales is a well-oiled machine. Instead, they must challenge the status quo and consider innovative and new approaches.
All successful directorships will be characterised by the ability to be agile on a scale we’ve not seen before. Things aren’t bedded down into the new normal yet. In 2021 and beyond, sales director jobs need candidates who have the ability to flex, making the most of opportunities as they present, and actively managing change at an intense level. Sales directors need to be opportunists at the best of times, but right now, they can’t wait for opportunity to come knocking.
Sales, and thus sales directors, have a reputation for being hard taskmasters rather than inspiring motivators. They have relied on a carrot and stick approach. Sales directors of the future will need to adapt this approach to recognise that their human capital has potentially become deflated and disengaged over the past year. Sales directors will need to nurture engagement through active support in a way which may jar with the traditional role. Creating strong and cohesive teams once more needs to be a priority.
The World Economic Forum says, “Most traditional companies are over-managed and under-led.” In 2021 and beyond, sales directors need to be leaders, not just managers. They need to be central to transforming the business so that it is one to thrive on the back of the pandemic, rather than to simply survive. In the infamous words of Ronald Reagan, “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
Inspiration, motivation, communication and the ability to drive sales during the bleakest winter of the pandemic, need to be evidenced in candidates for sales director jobs. And that will take a distinctly dedicated approach to identifying and recruiting the right individuals who possess all of the skills and aptitudes always wanted in sales directors, as well as the heightened characteristics listed above.
As a candidate, no matter your immediate background, if you are looking for a new sales director role this year then you need to be certain you are moving somewhere that has the potential to thrive and succeed in these difficult times. It’s a difficult time to make the move, but, with the right approach, it’s possible to take advantage of the timing to embrace the next stage in your career.
Fundamentally, your success in finding the right role will depend on working extremely closely with dedicated headhunters who understand the changing landscape, and understand your sector. Through a good relationship with a headhunter, you can truly understand the potential of roles, rather than be limited by the confines of standard recruitment.
In reality, you need to keep your head low whilst you search for new roles, but your profile high. That’s always been a difficult line to walk, but is increasingly difficult at the moment. A headhunter has the discretion to position you appropriately, without jeopardy to your current position or status.
For businesses looking to recruit a new sales director, they too have notable added challenges. They must actively find candidates who tick all of the boxes above and have proved that they enabled their current sales function to thrive, despite the enormous challenges of the past year.
Again, this will require the skill of a headhunter to identify passive candidates that have demonstrated the high standard of diverse skills that will be necessary for the future. The relationship with the headhunter will ensure that there’s complete understanding about this critical role in the current climate.
At Eagle Headhunters we’re here to help both employers and candidates as they navigate the changing demands of sales director jobs in 2021 and beyond. Get in touch.