Suffice to say it is not sufficient to write in the job description that your company is looking for a salesperson to sell its product, call on new and existing customers and promote the company's products and services. The job description is a detailed outline of the roles and responsibilities of the position, including performance expectations and it flows from the job profile (see Creating a Sales Job Profile) . If the sales manager or hiring team have undertaken a detailed analysis of the sales position and determined the qualifications, type of experience and personal attributes needed to succeed in the role, they are ready to write the job description. It is a key tool for filling the position and for managing employee performance after the candidate is hired.
The job description contains the kind of information that both an applicant and a sales manager would want to know. The more specific the job description, the easier the screening and hiring process becomes, because applicants can screen themselves out if they read information that is not suitable to their interests or background. The sales manager can save time and effort before the interviewing process even begins.
The approach to writing a job description is as follows:
Clearly outline the primary mandate or accountability of the position (e.g. $1.6 million in revenue).
List the primary and secondary responsibilities and tasks of the position. Be sure to define the specific performance expectations and levels of performance for each responsibility. Use quantifiable terminology when possible (e.g. the number of sales calls to prospects per week). It is also helpful to indicate the approximate amount of time that will be spent on each task.
Define the basic requirements for the job. For example typical requirements include education, experience, proven capabilities, aptitudes, behavioural traits etc. These basic requirements will flow from the job profile itself.
Outline working conditions. Some examples include: the amount of travel required; control and management of company assets; the nature and frequency of interacting with internal and external customers; and the relative percentage of team-based versus independent job functions. Identify the potential for change in the position. Assess the training and support that your company will provide.
Define reporting requirements, structure and management styles. Who will the salesperson report to in the company and what positions will be reporting to the person in this position. What is your corporate structure (team or independent)? What will be the amount of structure provided for the position? What is the fit of the job within the organization? What is the management style of the person’s immediate supervisor? What is the history of sales force turnover and its causes?
Identify competencies and skills of existing sales staff. If the person will be working in a team environment or a close knit environment, the personalities of the other staff members must be taken into consideration. Is this person a driver, amiable, analytic or expressive? What is their communication style? Will their strengths complement the existing team or make up any shortfalls?
Define the compensation structure (e.g. salary only, salary plus commission/bonus, company supplied vehicle etc.) and the total target compensation for the position. How does the salary and benefits compare to what other companies are paying for that sales position in the same business area? Will the compensation package attract top candidates? Is your company competitive? Are you at the top, middle or bottom of the compensation scale?
Write the job description.
When developing job requirements, be realistic. Don’t expect candidates to have every requirement on your list. You should establish a minimum standard and a “desired” standard when evaluating candidates. For example, under educational requirements: Minimum college diploma in marketing, prefer Bachelors degree; or preference given to candidates who have attained the designation, Certified Sales Professional. Some traits are quantitative, for example the more technical knowledge or the more customer contacts that a candidate has, the better. Other traits are qualitative and must be assessed by you and other interviewers during a face-to-face interview.
When it comes time to write the job description, be sure to cover all of the points previously outlined. More importantly, make sure that the language and writing used in the description is clear, precise, and easy to understand. Use point-form, detailed lists where appropriate and eliminate excess words.
About the Author:
The Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) is a national organization of 30000 sales and marketing professionals. Members receive significant savings on travel, business costs and more. The CPSA also offers exclusive sales training and certification programs.
Click here to read part five, "Tips for Writing an Online Classified Ad for a Sales Position"