Recruitment Grapevine (a worthy read if you are not already aware of the site) recently reported on a study by search firm Norrie Johnston that Sales Directors are "by far the toughest to fill".  

This started an interesting debate at Collingwood towers.  Given how we are entrenched in this world I suppose it was always going to.

The reports findings highlight that some 29% of 127 Directors interviewed found this to be the case.  We at Collingwood disagree and would love to hear your views.

Having worked on a couple of digital marketing roles in building products, I tend to agree with the 18% of respondents.  Especially in the built environment, these people are few and far between and often clients are not truly sure on what they want.

So why do I personal disagree with senior sales positions being the toughest:

1.  Clients will often put a premium on securing the best talent for Sales Director roles.  Often they will budget 10-30% more against peers who sit on the board

2.  Sales Directors are readily contactable; it is not hard to gain mobile numbers if you know how and, by nature of who they are, target candidates are often open to speaking and in their cars alone!

3.  Clients are generally less precious on where such a candidate resides.  They don't typically have to be in the head office five days a week  

4. Often product sectors are less important than exposure to a given market. This, and the above point hugely opens the search.  For example, a cladding manufacturer requires someone with strong networks across architects and tier one contractors selling a structural product - this clearly opens the search to various product portfolios not just wall systems

I can understand why 33% of the respondents suggest Sales Directors do not always live up to the hype, but if you work with any credible headhunter a robust, methodical approach to interviewing and assessment will flush out the bad eggs.

In my experience, engineering and niche manufacturing roles in construction products are far more challenging (and often rewarding) to work on.  Why?

1.  Skills sets are far more niche and exacting to the clients requirements

2. Location of candidates is of utmost importance - offices / plants are fixed

3.  I often find clients don't put a premium on these roles.  OK, engineers typically are less incentive driven than sales people, but clients attempt to squeeze every last drop out of budget on these roles, expecting premiership standard for league one salaries (not always the case I appreciate)

4. Engineers / Operations Directors et al are very rarely at their desk and mobile numbers are less freely available.  I often find myself attempting to call the top targets five or six times before a meaningful conversation ensues

So, as leaders of manufacturers or senior HR professionals tasked with landing your next directorship role, what are your experiences?

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