More key skills for global sales leaders in the business information sector

Thanks to the increasing take-up of digital technologies and production cycles that ensure new content and information can be made available on an almost continuous basis, the media market is becoming ever more global – and with that comes a need for senior staff with the experience and drive to lead teams that are often dotted in offices across the globe.

In recent months, it has become apparent that the demand for senior executives with a global outlook is growing. Increasingly, our clients ask us to look for global commercial heads – but when they ask us that, what do they really want? What characteristics to the want to bring into their businesses?

A little while ago, I outlined how experience of cross-border trade, managing change, knowledge of ‘scaling’ and of ‘value-selling’ were highly-prized characteristics when it came to determining the very best sales leaders. In the months since I wrote that blog it has become apparent that a few more qualities could – and should – be added to the list.

So, if you’re a business leader looking to hire a global commercial head, what else should you be looking for?


Markets naturally peak and trough. What makes a good sales leader is the ability to be alive to conditions in various markets, adapt, but then also maintain a clear focus on where long-term goals lie for that particular territory and overall.

‘There are always opportunities,’ one candidate told us. ‘The key is to seek out those areas of the market that are growing, as other parts go down.’

Data and Metrics

If you’re looking to hire a new global commercial head, then it’s vital to establish what measures they use to inform their sales process.

Do they insist, for instance, that sales operatives record every detail, every client contact, in the CRM platform?

If so, this would present a good opportunity to explore how they are analysing that data and feeding the intelligence it generates back into their processes: what about asking if they’re focused six months ahead in anticipation of what their product and service pipeline will deliver? Is there evidence of that kind of behaviour or planning?

Managing Groups

A sales organisation can be made up of many sub-teams. An experienced sales leader is likely to have overseen field sales staff, inside sales, as well as customer support personnel. What motivates an employee who works in New Business in one country will be different from the motivation of a customer support manager in another. A great commercial head should be fully aware of these differences and should know how to motivate accordingly. Being truly global can often mean being ‘local’ in lots of markets.


Sales people, by their very nature, tend to be competitive. As a sales leader, however, it’s important to build a spirit of co-operation and teamwork within your groups. A number of highly-gifted sales leaders that I have come into contact with even ensure that part of a sales person’s comp plan is given over to team-working. One candidate recently told us that if a salesperson in their team undermined a colleague to their benefit, this could be viewed as career-threatening behaviour.

In new and complex digital/global markets, where teams are often dotted across the world, and often have different priorities, co-operation and sharing of information is everything.