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29% of business struggling to fill sales director roles, reveals NJR

Senior sales roles are the toughest to fill, according to a study among HR and recruitment heads by Norrie Johnston Recruitment (NJR).

Almost a third (29%) of the 127 directors involved in the research identified sales director as the most difficult senior position to fill. This was followed by director-level marketing and digital roles, which were only nominated by 19% and 18% respectively.

According to the study, part of the challenge with senior sales roles is finding people that are compatible with the organisation’s culture. Almost six in ten (59%) of the companies questioned say it’s difficult to find a director that understands and embodies the values and philosophy of the firm.

Phil Hagen, director of Norrie Johnston Recruitment, commented, “It is essential that whoever is placed in the sales director role fits in with the company’s ethos. If their values don’t fit, the potential disruption to a company can be massive.”

The NJR research also revealed that a third (33%) of UK businesses find it difficult to recruit sales directors who live up to their CV. Prospective sales directors are likely to have an extensive list of achievements and attributes, but this is not always the whole story.

Hagen explained, “Some sales directors enter the job market with a CV that shows a highly successful sales record, but this may have been achieved during the boom years in a fast-growing industry. It may not be a true reflection of their ability to perform in a tougher environment or a more challenging market. Some businesses often only find this out when the director is in post, and under-performing!

“That’s why prospective employers must now be able to read between the lines of a sales director’s CV. They need the ability to dig deeper. They need to determine if a candidate is the right behavioural type, has the skills, experience, is a good cultural fit for the company and has the right people management skills to manage the many elements of the sales function.”

It’s not just CV assessment which is a challenge, the study found that over a quarter (26%) of UK companies struggle to match the salaries and packages offered by rivals, while 24% have difficulty finding the people they need within their strict time

constraints. Indeed, almost a half of firms (47%) took at least six months to recruit their most recent senior director, and 10% still hadn’t filled the role after a year.

Hagen concluded, “Given it’s so difficult to find strong sales directors, and the potential risk which such delays can bring, it’s no surprise that we’re experiencing significant demand for our specialist sales director recruitment service.”

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