If the CEO fired your SVP of Sales tomorrow, would you get the job? 73% of you just said yes; or at least that is what our research showed when we asked Regional VPs that question. 


10 seconds has passed……… you’re starting to think to yourself, “Hmm…would I get the job or would they give it to Dave or Andy (or any other internal arch rival)?” If you want a quick way to find out if you possess the skills to beat your internal peers for the SVP of Sales job, download a copy of the SVP of Sales Competency Profile.


This post is written for those who want the top job and don’t want to get beat by an internal peer; you can impact this criteria. We spent time with hundreds of CEOs in compiling research.  You can review the “How to Make Your Number in 2018” Workbook for all emerging best practices.  Here is what CEOs told us when we asked them the same question we asked the Regional VPs in the first paragraph:


59% would fill the role internally; 6 out of 10 times you have a shot. 


Why do you care?


The three major impacts to you are:


  1. Financial—you don’t reach your income goals; the top sales officer is typically one of the 3 highest paid people in the company.
  2. Professional—you will be branded as the almost guy; He was almost the SVP. He almost got the big job. He almost got promoted but timing didn’t work.
  3. Personal—do you want to relocate and change industries in your mid 40’s? Is your wife interested in pulling the kids out of school? The average regional VP of Sales has 2 kids between the ages of 9 and 15; embedded in the community. Never easy.


Why you will lose the role to your internal peer?


Lack of Influence – There are many compelling articles written on the importance of great sales leaders. Influence through coaching and developing all people in the organization stood out. If you lack it, you will fail. You might be saying: “that sounds squishy.”  It isn’t.  You have positional authority; but you do have influential authority greater than your peers?


The higher up you go, the less control you have. The number one reason why Regional guys never become worldwide guys is they lack the ability to influence multiple stakeholders. They spent their careers controlling people. I call them Captain Control. Do you commit any of these 3 sins?


  1. Control People—you constantly are working behind the scenes to ensure all people in your region say the right thing when others are in the room. You don’t like people reaching out to your direct reports without you knowing. More importantly, you are fanatical about knowing what happened. Who said what to whom and when. You are “feared” in your group and you somewhat enjoy the perception that you carry the big stick.
  2. Control Ideas—you don’t like new ideas unless they are yours. You spend time pushing back on change. You resist it. You want your team to “run the playbook” vs. challenge you and conventional wisdom. No idea is a bad idea as long as it is yours.
  3. Control Opinions—you don’t seek transparency. You seek compliance. When you ask people questions, you do it in a manner to check the box. You say you want their opinion but you really don’t. You want their agreement with yours. Malicious obedience.


What is the Alternative? Measure yourself against your key sales team stakeholders


Talent Management


Implement an Influence Scorecard


Influence Scorecard—the best VPs of Sales keep score through more than revenue; they are fanatical about Talent Management.  They “look down the people stack”. They approach their role by viewing their performance against each of the main groups of sales staff in their regions.  Metrics like:


  1. New Rep—New hire batting average—how many of the hires sales reps in your region are performing at the ‘A’ player level?
  2. Veteran Reps—Promotability—how many of their front line and second line sales managers have been promoted?
  3. New ManagersDemotion rate—how many of your first year Managers are either demoted or redeployed in year 1?
  4. Veteran Managers-B’s to A’s—if you want to be the SVP, you have to grow people.  You will not be able to “parachute in” and close the big deal or save the struggling sales rep. How many of your current internal peers used to work for you? How many people from your region have been promoted to senior leadership in other functional groups?


Call to Action


Ask yourself 2 questions:


  1. What is standing in the way of each of these stakeholders from reaching their goal?
  2. How much of my time is spent impacting them directly  in achieving their goal?


Next week, ask 3 people from each of the stakeholder groups these two questions. If you lead your internal peers in influence, the results always take care of themselves. The path to the SVP job is not revenue alone; your approach to talent management is critical. Download the SVP Sales Competency Profile to learn about a group of VPs that were promoted to SVP of Sales and what they did to outpace their internal peers.


Get the latest emerging best practices from SBI’s “How to Make Your Number in 2018” Workbook or interactive tool. Ensure you have the best strategy planned for next year.


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Matt Sharrers

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by embracing emerging best practices to grow revenue faster than the industry and competitors. 

Matt Sharrers is the CEO of SBI, a management consulting firm specialized in sales and marketing that is dedicated to helping you Make Your Number. Forbes recognizes SBI as one of The Best Management Consulting Firms in 2017.


Over the course of nearly a decade at SBI, Matt Sharrers was an instrumental early partner guiding SBI as the Senior Partner. Matt’s functional responsibilities included acting as the head of sales where he led SBI’s double-digit revenue growth, and was responsible for the hiring function to build SBI’s team of revenue generation experts.


Prior to joining SBI in 2009, Matt spent eleven years leading sales and marketing teams as a Vice President of Sales. Matt has “lived in the field.” As a result, he is the foremost expert in the art of separating fact from fiction as it relates to revenue growth best practices. CEOs and Private equity investors turn to Matt’s team at SBI when they need to unlock trapped growth inside of their companies.



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