article | June 12, 2013
A Letter of Resignation from a Sales Leader
The board asked me to investigate the claims in the letter. My approach was to assess the health of the CEO/Sales VP partnership.
Here is one of the tools I used during this assignment:
The CEO/Sales VP Partnership Health Check.
You will benefit from using this tool in 3 ways:
Note: This letter has been fictionalized, to a degree, to allow for publication.
Please accept this letter as my resignation from the position of SVP of WW Sales.
Since I am taking my stock with me, I want the company to do well. Therefore, I took the time to explain why I am resigning. My hope is that you, and the board, consider these issues prior to hiring my replacement.
The reasons for my departure are as follows:
The revenue goal you have set for me is not based in reality. It is unfair to set my goals based some high level Gartner numbers. For three years, I have submitted a proposal to set the number correctly and it has been rejected. Give the new guy a chance.
You have 16 items on my priority list. No one can do 16 things well. Each of these has been labeled mission critical. As a result, I have become a bad husband and father. Don’t ruin another man’s life. Not all opportunities are created equal. Pick a few things.
The products are commodities. I have collected a list of problems our customers want us to solve. I submitted them to our CTO but he told me to “just go sell something.” Stop building what you think is cool. Start building what the customers are willing to pay for. And maybe my replacement can make you happy.
The marketing department is terrible. Each month they send my team a report claiming hundreds of leads generated. When my team follows up on them, these “leads” do not want to engage with us. I have tried, and failed, to be a partner with our CMO. But, I just cannot listen to another conversation about website visitors and social media likes.
The organizational structure prevents us from being successful. I recommended moving from a geographic focus to an industry vertical focus. You said no. The customers want our reps to be industry experts. They have told me this directly. If you listen to the customers, the new guy might have a chance.
You do not have enough feet on the street. I have asked for a headcount increase repeatedly only to get into a shouting match with the CFO. He thinks 100% of our reps should make their number, before a new rep is hired. This is impossible. I am not sure why you let the CFO determine the number of reps on the sales team.
The compensation plan is too complicated. In order for a rep to get his OTE, he has to hit 11 metrics. I hired a comp consulting company last year. They did a great job and we have a solution for this. But, HR will not let us implement it. I just got tired of having to get HR to buy into my comp program.
The culture makes this company a brutal place to work. Military-like commands coming down from the top are demoralizing. Threatening the reps commissions to get them to use the CRM system did not work. Top reps do not want to work here. And now, neither do I.
So, you might be wondering what happened? The letter of resignation was accepted and the sales manager has moved on. The CEO has recognized the need to create better conditions for the incoming sales leader. The board created a selection committee to recruit a new Sales VP. And as for me, I am helping the CEO create these new sales conditions. I am also on the selection committee picking the new sales leader. Hopefully, this mess will be behind us soon.
Have some fun. Spend 15 minutes with this tool. It might just help you prevent your sales manager from quitting.
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