5 Steps to hiring great sales leaders

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I recently joined Gong as Chief Revenue Officer and couldn’t be more excited to be on this team and help it grow to the next level. To do that, we’re working hard to hire amazing sales leaders. 

As we dive into the new year, you may find yourself in a similar situation.

When you ramp up hiring, you’ll get a mix of inputs: inbound and outbound requests, gut reactions, and data, known and unknown quantities.

How can you handle all these inputs, make the best hires possible, and drive the best outcomes for your organization?

1. Remember that the best talent is often not looking for new work.

When you open a job req on your website, you’ll get a lot of inbound. But that inbound doesn’t represent the entire pool of people who’d be great fits for the role—let alone the entire pool of people who know about it.

The passive stream of applications is a decent source for great candidates. But don’t forget to take a proactive approach too. Tap all your company’s people resources to find talent where it might not immediately make itself clear.

2. Engage the rest of your leadership team in the search.

Your leadership team will likely be your most reliable source of potential new talent. Not only will your leaders’ networks be the richest with A players, but the relationships are likely to be fresher, and personal outreach from a successful senior leader carries gravity that more junior outreach or recruiter notes often don’t.

More often than not, the next great leader is already inside your company! They need to be identified as having high potential and provided with the development plan and nurturing to grow into that great leader. Be sure to proactively invest in your current team members to develop them for tomorrow.

3. Be careful not to sole-source the interview process.

Get fully aligned on the role and its requirements as a team, then execute the hiring process together. Not only will this ensure you have as many different perspectives on candidates as possible, but you’ll also minimize bias with such a variation of outlooks.

Assemble a panel of people who understand the criteria they’re looking for, and give you the best possible chance of holistically evaluating each candidate.

4. Look for data-driven leaders.

Over-indexing on gut feelings doesn’t cut it in sales leadership anymore. The modern leader is not Don Draper musing in his office. They’re someone who knows how to find stories in data and use them to inform the way they coach.

Look for people who have experience using data to drive their leadership initiatives. What solutions do they rely on to evaluate their teams’ performance? How do they incorporate this data into their coaching styles?

5. Understand AI’s role–present and future.

AI can help significantly during the sales process: identifying which questions are most effective, automating administrative steps, finding common attributes among great candidates, and helping analyze interviews to develop best practices and eliminate bias. 

In the future, AI trained on models that safeguard against bias, coupled with human input and intuition, will help us predict which candidates are most likely to be great hires. We aren’t there yet, but it’s safe to say AI will transform recruiting and hiring just as it has reshaped other departments. 

Hiring isn’t easy—and hiring for leadership roles is especially challenging. 

But if you can get aligned on the criteria you’re looking for upfront, take a proactive approach to sourcing talent as a team, listen to data as much as you listen to your gut, and start to incorporate AI into your recruiting process, you put yourself in the best position to make game-changing hires.

And if you’re a game-changing hire looking for your next role, check out the openings on my team at Gong: https://www.gong.io/careers/