Seven Questions to Ask to Ascertain if You’ve Made a Bad Hire – Sales Director

By Human Capital Group
30th December 2020

Human Capital Group’s Housebuilder Business Resilience Hub is designed as a community hub that features a whole host of useful, insightful and actionable advice based around three factors that are most important within the housebuilding business. These are:


  • Mindset

  • Productivity

  • Cash flow

Having worked with more than 100 chief executives and senior director level leaders in recent years, we realised that there is a correlation between these three factors in that they are traits regularly displayed by businesses who are most adept at surviving adversity.


We therefore designed our Business Resilience Hub around these themes. As part of this, we have recently been focused on looking into the true cost of a bad hire at Director level, and what impact this can have across a housebuilding business.

We’ve been lucky enough to speak to two industry stalwarts – Andy Beasley and Darren Humphreys.

Andy is now retired but was the Regional Chairman at Bellway for 10 years, overseeing 6-7 offices, and Darren is the former CEO at SME Enterprise Rectory Homes, overseeing three different regions and was also a hugely successful Managing Director at both CALA and David Wilson.

In the latest ‘Cost of a Bad Hire’ webinar, they discussed with our Managing Director, Gerard Ball, the role of Sales Director. They dissected the value these disciplines bring to the business units, what the cost to a business is if you get the hire wrong and how to spot a good hire.


1. At the interview stage, what kind of attributes do we need to look for in a Sales Director if we are to avoid a bad hire?


Darren Humphreys: “They need to be able to appreciate the bigger picture. By the time you have progressed through sales roles and become the Sales Director, you need to be able to put specific plot detail behind you and instead be looking at industry trends and land performance.”

Andy: “At the end of the day, if a salesperson can’t sell themselves then they’re not going to be able to sell houses, are they?

“I would want to hear what their plan would be for a bad site and how they would intend to achieve success. Sales Directors have got to be creative sometimes and know how to formulate a plan, deal with difficulties and alter the course if need be.

“They also need to have the confidence to tackle any problems head on and resolve them.”

Darren: “Yes, they need to have the ability to look at a whole spectrum, identify where the problem lies, which process in the chain is broken and how it can be fixed.”


2. What does a superstar Sales Director do in the early days in their position?


Andy: “I’d be looking for strong sales from the start, an ability to quickly identify any problems, be on top of the detail and be passing information on in a timely manner.

“I’ve previously worked with sites where the Sales Director is unorganised, and it makes the whole team suffer.”


3. What should their interactions be like with other director disciplines?


Darren: “They need to be upfront with expectations and timescales and this means other people know what they are supposed to be doing and when things need to be delivered.”


4. What are a Sales Director’s key relationships within the board?


Andy: They have to have an especially good relationship with the build and technical teams as well as any external management companies. Most companies will have a weekly build/sales coordination meeting which helps a lot to ensure the necessary liaison is happening.”


 5. How can you make sure a Sales Director is directing and not just managing?


Darren: “If they are purely reporting on other people’s opinions, actions and situations then that is very telling and a warning sign that it is their Number Two who is doing most of the heavy lifting, with the Sales Director merely riding on their coattails.

“Average Sales Directors often rely on excuses and justifications like ‘it’s the market’ to explain why sales are poor. Really good ones don’t rely on external justifications and situations but make positive steps to make things happen all the time.”


6. When you’ve got a bad Sales Director in place, what problems are generated?


Darren: “Once your reservation rate starts to drop, it takes a long time to catch it up. The cost of it can amplify quite quickly and it can take a long time to recover. Necessary steps have to be taken early on if you do have a performance issue.”


7. What are the KPIs are we setting for a Sales Director in the first 3/6 months?


Darren: “Sales Directors are measured and monitored every single week and you’ve usually got more stats and analytics around sales to look at than any other position – such as weekly sales, site visitors, conversion stats, completions, overdue exchanges, customer service reports etc. This means they are faced with lots of KPIs and it is a highly visible position.”

Andy: ‘It’s simple with sales really. At the end of any 4-week period, you know what your conversion rate is looking like and what your completions, exchanges are. These stats would highlight a good or poor Sales Director pretty quickly!

To discover how Human Capital Group can help prevent you from making a bad hire in the recruitment business, get in touch today.

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