Case Study: European Sales Manager, Macroalgae

Placement timeline of European Sales Manager Macroalgae_ref.2108


The Client is a dynamic start-up supplying innovative and sustainable macroalgae blends for use in animal feed. They reached a crucial moment in their brand recognition, investor support and market development. It was time to hire a dedicated European Sales Manager.

The role requires a commercially minded professional with a proven track record working in the animal feed industry and flexibility to cover most livestock species. Most importantly, this professional should feel confident with their industry network and ability to grow business with added value products.

The initial search began by managing their own network and looking for potential candidates directly. However, the MD needed to focus on other tasks in the business.

After discussing the requirements for the role, The Client gave us 3 referrals from the industry. BASSWOOD had the task to approach them directly, as part of our campaign. In effect, to ensure a uniform process and free them from having to provide feedback separately.

The initial brief for the European Sales Manager was:

  • Animal nutrition background, ideally with a technical background/education in the industry
  • Commercial skills, with an experience in Business, Portfolio, Product, Technical Sales or Support positions
  • Client connections in the major European livestock markets (such as Iberia)
  • Interest to work in an entrepreneurial start-up environment
  • Available to travel up to 50%, when it becomes possible.

Our solution & method

Basswood began intensive data mining in the European market, focusing on Animal Nutrition, Feed additives and related sectors. Additionally, as per the client’s request, we prioritized searches in Poland, Germany, Benelux, France, Spain, and Italy.

  • Total leads identified: 406
  • Total candidates interested: 36

Important finding: The majority of candidates wanted less travel. Professionals, with experience in Benelux & Germany have higher salary expectations than a start-up can offer. Further, business development for those, who had the required technical skills, was not their primary career choice.

Client decision: Focus on the candidates, who are interested in the role and understand the budget restrictions of a start-up. Give an opportunity to professionals, who do not have all the commercial connections, but are willing to take a challenge.

Candidates shortlisted: After updating the brief, we were able to qualify & submit eleven professionals, from which six were selected for the shortlist.

Potential complication: During the last stage and negotiations, we established that offering a car would not be possible. However, the costs of the candidate’s travel would be significant.

Solution: Consequently, through a transparent negotiation process, we found a solution where the transportation cost could be covered through a rented vehicle service.

Hired profile: MSc in Animal Production. Fifteen+ years of experience as a Technical Director and Sales/Business Development Manager in the Feed Additives, Ingredients & Veterinary industries. Previous experience with large and mid-sized companies. Therefore, at a point in their career where a fresh & entrepreneurial challenge was welcome.

Success timeline for the European Sales Manager

Assignment sign-off: 28th of May 2021
Planned Shortlist submission: 2nd of July 2021
Actual Shortlist submission: 1st of July 2021 (11 profiles discussed, 6 profiles shortlisted)
1st stage interviews: all 6 candidates selected, with interviews arranged throughout July 2021
2nd stage interviews: 3 candidates selected, with interviews arranged throughout July 2021
Final stage: 1 candidate selected, concluding interviews arranged at the end of August 2021

Successful conclusion

The contract with the chosen candidate was signed in October 2021. The candidate started in the position in December 2021. The chosen professional has already secured first client contracts in a relatively novel market and has established the company brand in the industry. They are still employed with The Client.

Lessons learned from the European Sales Manager project:

  1. Have a realistic approach to which skills are a must and which can be learned. It goes a long way to ensure successful candidate selection for a start-up.
  2. Many professionals want to join companies that provide solutions for the future. Start-ups have an advantage. However, to ensure success, the available budget and candidates’ expectations need to be transparent and discussed from the very beginning.

Why choose Basswood?

No matter how detailed the initial discussion about compensation is, changes will happen.

3-6 months can elapse until recruitment comes to the negotiation stage. The candidate clarifies their expectations during the process, once the possibility of leaving their company starts sinking in.

Or the company cannot afford to match the initial estimated budget. This especially rings true during times of big economical changes and shifts in client behaviour.

When we start to discuss contracts in detail all sides come together with a new viewpoint. It is important to remain flexible and search for solutions during an open negotiation stage.

Do you come close to losing candidates because of negotiations? Choose BASSWOOD and worry no more!

Read Candidate Testimonial | Read Client Testimonial

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