It’s time to hire a leader for your sales team – should you promote internally or recruit externally?

I need to start this by highlighting the BIG mistake that lots of businesses make in this situation – THE BEST SALESPERSON DOES NOT = THE BEST SALES LEADER! Just because someone’s excelled as a salesperson does not guarantee their success as a leader. 

Now that’s off my chest, we can move on. 

So, you’re in a great position that the performance of your business is supporting the investment in a new sales leader and now it’s just a simple case of finding the right person, right? If only! This hire is so important to get right because, if you do, your business will fly. Get it wrong and it could well bring the whole house down.

I’ve been that person who was promoted internally and, later, I was part of a team that externally recruited a CEO. Along with that, I’ve watched numerous clients do both over the years with various levels of success and failure enabling me to provide you with my insights. Before you start the process of recruiting, your 1st step should be to write out a job spec. Doing this will 1) give you clarity on what outcomes your business expects to see from filling this role and 2) will help you identify the required skills and traits that the right person needs. Once this part of the process is finished, you can then start exploring whether you have any suitable candidates already in your employment as well as who else ‘out there’ might be right for you.

To help with the decision, here are some (not exhaustive) pros and cons for both promoting internally and recruiting externally:

Promoting internally

Pros Cons
Already knows the business and is a cultural fit
Their role needs replacing, and results may well drop during this transition
No direct recruitment costs
Moving from teammate to boss is a BIG challenge
Moving from teammate to boss is a BIG challenge
An existing employee is less likely to bring new skills and ideas to the business
Proves to other staff that internal career advancement is possible
Only looking amongst existing staff is a much smaller pool than looking externally

Recruiting externally

Pros Cons
Brings a fresh set of ideas
Longer recruiting process & may incur recruitment costs
Recruit for experience and network
More intense training needed
Advertising the role helps grow the profile of the business
Stifles career advancement of existing staff
Much wider pool of potential talent to choose from
Needs to learn about the business & might not be a cultural fit

I’m a fan of, where possible, promoting internally and I advise all my clients to firstly always explore who they already have that might be suitable for the role before looking outside of their company. With that in mind, forward-thinking businesses might take steps to identify staff who have future potential for progression and start working on their development well ahead of the role being available so that, when the time comes, the transition is seamless. This approach requires a considerable investment in creating a long-term strategy about the evolution of your business – something Dremur can help with if needs be.

Signing off, I want to pass on one more piece of, in my opinion, significant advice…please don’t force any existing staff into the role because you ‘believe’ they’ll be great at it. For it to be a success for everyone, the candidate needs to be enthused and motivated to take the role and not coerced – you’ll be setting them up for failure and wasting all your time doing this resulting in you likely losing that person and having to start all over again.

Want to get it right? Get in touch to arrange a time to speak and we’ll get this right together.