What Recruiters Look for in a Sales Star


Whenever we are recruiting regional sales leaders or domain sales specialists in the Financial Technology space, there are always specific “tells” that we look for in their experience that indicate that they have what it takes to shine in a new environment.

In Financial Technology sales, a fair part of sales success is connected with the product or service that you are promoting, but these indicators tend to show an individual’s net impact, over and above whatever buzz the product or service itself might be creating.

The value of a sales professional lies in this “net” impact. That is their worth.

Firstly, we want to understand how their specific actions have broken the underlying trend. There are certain events that happen in a sales cycle that either give sales a boost or cause sales to plummet. A new product or service might help the salesperson take a step up, while poor market sentiment might stall things somewhat. Both these situations are normal, but they are generally not within a salesperson’s power to influence. Underpinning these events is always an underlying sales trend, and we want to understand exactly what sales leaders have done to make their incremental difference on a like-for-like basis.

It is not always easy to tease out this information at interview, but if a sales candidate comes to us telling the story of where sales were before their impact and where they were afterwards (and why), then I will have plenty of ammo to relay to a potential employer.

Secondly, senior sales people need vision. It is one thing to improve an underlying trend, but it is another thing altogether to create something from scratch (in a sustainable way). Breaking into new markets is a key aspect of any technology business, but it is far from easy to ensure that you do it in such a way that you set a foundation for growth. The best senior sales professionals enter a new market with the vision of where they need to be in a few years’ time and they out in place the ingredients for future success.

Whenever a sales leader tells me about a new market entry, it is always fascinating to understand how those initial foundations translated into future profitability. If they cannot talk about that transition, it is unlikely that did much else but set up and office and let the local team react to the future rather than drive it.

Thirdly, sales people need to be phenomenal communicators. If a candidate walks in with astounding tales of success, but cannot tell the story of how that success came about, it leaves me puzzled. If they can’t tell the story of success in retrospect, how can they motivated all around them to achieve it in the first place? Storytelling in its various forms lies at the very heart of sales, and the art of making someone feel in the desired way about your product or service is a genuine gift that not many possess.

These three ingredients: net impact, vision and storytelling need to be present if I am to recommend a candidate to a client. If they are not there, then for us, there is simply something missing.

Are there particular characteristics that you look out for when hiring sales professionals?


Alan Anwar is the Managing Director at Datasearch Consulting, a leading executive recruitment firm specialising in the Financial Technology & Data sectors.

You can download their FREE comprehensive guide on “The Complete Guide to Hiring Fintech & Data Talent – 5 Proven Steps to Secure the Best Candidates Possible” hereAlternatively you can view the Datasearch Consulting website or contact them directly on info@datasearchconsulting.com for a more detailed discussion.

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