You may have noticed there are a lot more job adverts being posted for Sales and Business development professionals of late.

What does it mean?

Is it a sign that markets are hotting up and organisations need more people to handle all the new opportunity?

Or, are companies refilling positions that they let go in the midst of the pandemic?

Or, is it something else…?

Regardless of the reason, it's interesting to read the lists of requirements that are in the recruitment adverts…

These are all genuine line-item requirements from recruiter ads for Senior Sales and BD professionals in the past month:

👉Administer, develop and deliver initiatives to increase sales and market development

👉Managing the full circle customer experience in line with the company sales model, including engagement, qualification of customer and deal closing

👉Commercial acumen and strong interpersonal skills.

👉Experience in new business development

👉Be able to develop market strategies and initiatives

👉Experience in growing market share

👉Negotiation skills

👉Good working knowledge of the sector

👉Strong external relationships builder

👉Understand the market and communicate & follow up client’s opportunities

👉Generating high quality leads, developing a robust sales funnel, converting leads into opportunities and bring them to contract.

👉Responsible for driving sales and revenue

👉Undertaking account management activities of existing clients as assigned, as well as managing leads and following up on them in a timely and structured manner.

👉Previous experience in new business field sales and/or commercial activities.

👉A proven track record of building a new business pipeline of potential opportunities to further generate and exceed a given sales target is also required.

Do you notice anything missing from the list..?

Digital skills……

We are in the midst of the biggest evolution in modern commerce since the industrial revolution. Sales, Marketing and Business development has evolved more in the last 3 years than it has in the last 30 years… yet the entire subject of digital and social is ignored by hirers...!

The same flat, uninspiring list of basic requirements from Sales job adverts for the last 40 years…

“Car wanted, must have wheels and engine…”

If we are hiring Sales & BD people for 2023, we must be sure and hire people who have the digital and social media skills to network, prospect, create influence, and grow relationships online. They also need to understand and have the skills to convert all of this into valuable commercial interaction.

If we don’t do this, we are hiring yet more people who will plug into our organisation and fail to deliver, all whilst eating away at your precious overhead.

Hiring the digital first Sales and Business development professionals is a leadership imperative now and for the future.

This begs the question, where do you start..?

Hiring for digital and social skills in sales and business development

The process starts with an evaluation of your commercial processes: Demand generation, lead generation and converting business...

Perform a full Commercial Activity Risk Assessment of where your Sales and Marketing is right now. Not a little half an hour discussion at the end of a Sales meeting, this is important. We see the best success when organisations make this an improvement project and have Quality, HR, Ops and Finance involved. Really opening the ‘box’ that is Sales, Marketing and Business Development to same level of improvement scrutiny we give our other critical business processes.

It’s important a proven Social Selling & Influence consultant into the mix, if you don’t you will go round the houses with legacy Sales and Marketing trying to advise you on something they don’t fully understand. 

Get into the real nuts and bolts of this and be bold, this is important so treat it like an incident investigation. We must understand how to navigate to where our buyers and prospects are on digital and how they want to interact with us.

From this Risk Assessment will come a series of actions but, we are looking at hiring new Sales and BD people in this example.

What do we all need?

If you are anything like all of our client base you will come down to 4 key things that you need:

👉Access to markets

"We have established we have useful products and services and now need to take them to market. Where can we take them and who are the businesses we should target?". This is the market analysis piece and working out how we get into those markets.

👉Credibility in those markets

Once we have established where and who, how do we show them that we are a credible player? "How to we demonstrate this in ways that get them interested in us?".

👉Meaningful connection with prospects

We now have their attention; "how do we establish trust and build relationships within those new accounts?".

👉Create Commercial Integration

It all hinges on this. If we do well in the first 3 elements it should position us perfectly to take advantage of this crucial next step.

4 key areas that any business leaders should be examining.

As we try to answer these questions moving into 2023, it’s impossible to avoid Digital and Social, regardless of our sector.

No matter how complex we make it sound, no matter how many techniques and methods are employed at each stage…these are the basic elements we all need to be good at and, as we move into 2023, it’s impossible to have this level of analysis and conversation without turning to digital. In fact, these days its front and centre.

So, it makes sense that all of the people in our team that are responsible for generating demand, generating leads and closing business should be expert at working Digital and Social…

Make sure your Sales, Marketing and BD team are digitally fit...

Back to the hiring process…

For the advert:

We are looking for someone who can demonstrate they have all the skills required to win work digitally, people that are going to elevate us, so let’s lead with that.

👉Candidates should be able to demonstrate that they have all the digital skills required to prospect, network and close commercial interactions in an online environment.

👉Candidates should be able to demonstrate how they create influence in digital sectors.

👉Candidates should be well connected digitally in our sector and show how they convert his connection to commercial activity.

Next, look at training.

We are looking for people who have gone the extra step and educated themselves in this art and science of Social Selling & Influence.

👉Candidates should be trained in Social Selling & Influence and Strategic Social Media in the B2B space.

Have they taken a training course on digital transformation, are they trained in Social Seling & Influence…? Have they even read a book on the modern evolution of Sales and Business development in Digital?

Next, look for evidence.

We need to check that they can do what they say they can.

👉Candidates should be able to show evidence of how they built digital ecosystems, communities and shaped networks in a commercial sector.  Created demand and generated qualified leads via Social Media.

These are a few of the sample question we’ve already developed for Sales and BD search.

Then we are off to interview.

....start with their Social network.

If the candidate has a small LinkedIn network, ask why. This is a red flag.

If they have a reasonably sized LinkedIn network, ask them what percentage of that network is relevant to your industry and your business. If the answer is low, it’s a red flag but, it might be a work around.

Investigate the content…

👉“Could you outline your content plan on specific platforms and why that important to you in your role?”

👉“How would you say your content outlines your digital identity…?”

👉 “your content for the last year has been focussed on ‘X’, outline how you will you convince your network that you are now into ‘Y’ and how will you gain credibility and relevance…?”

👉What have they done to take advantage of the new digital landscape in Sales and BD? 

Here you are looking for answers that support someone’s claim that they know they way around Social and realise things have changed. Such as,

👉“I found my content want delivering for me, so I constructed a new plan and incorporated more articles and video…”

👉“I run a podcast interviewing senior people from this industry”

👉“I’ve grown my social network by 2000 people in this sector in the past 6 months”

👉“I do a regular live stream with 2 other people focussing on elements of this industry with special guests many of whom would be prospects for this organisation”.

👉“I write a weekly blog on this industry topic which is posted across multiple channels and has quite a good following”

These are they kind of indicators we are looking for from ‘New Sales and BD’.

Check out the difference between old and new Sales interviews....

Modern commercial evolution in sales, marketing and business development

We can ask how this person would create a digital capture plan to allow us to take prime position in a tender scenario.

We can ask how this person would create a Social Media territory access plan that would allow us to take our products and services into new countries without having to travel.


Again, these are just the start of where we should be focussed and what we should be doing to ensure we are bringing the right people into the organisation.

People that can help us deliver today and prepare for the future.

Willingness to adapt, be coached and be bold is required.

Digital Dexterity and Learning Agility is what is needed.

We meet with Sales leaders from across sectors, we are yet to meet one who isn’t staring at significant change in how their clients buy, the leadership team are looking at them and expecting answers…

One of the answers is creating an environment where to whole team has the digital skills they need to network, create influence, prospect and close business in a digital buyer’s world.

We are faced with a non-typical transformation which requires non-typical solutions.  

Organisations must be looking in non-typical places to fill available positions and assess them on the skills needed for today’s selling versus experience.   We must be aware of the here and now and prepping for the future, as there is nothing about the past that is teaching us about Sales, Marketing and Business Development in a digital world.

CRUX are Digital Commercial Advisors, we are here to help.

Live Social ’22-‘23

Eric Doyle

Consult Crux / DLA ignite