article | July 16, 2015
Consider This Before Hiring Your Next Sales VP
This is an opportunity to learn the challenges, strengths required, everything about the job. And not just the job, but the job at your unique company.
In the meantime, someone has to be the sales VP. But who? In this post, we’ll suggest a possible answer with potential far-reaching benefits.
Walking a mile in another person’s shoes is actually great hiring advice…
The Answer May Be Closer Than You Realize:You.
You could move smoothly into the role of VP of sales. Not permanently, of course. You wouldn’t be changing jobs, nor absorbing the VP’s duties long-term. This would be for only a specified period of time.
We recommend no more than six months’ duration. That would give you two quarters’ exposure to what actually happens in this job.
Get Invaluable Perspective:
When you act as sales VP, your view of the sales function will change. You’ll gain a new understanding of the team, the resources and the challenges. This is an opportunity to see the department from every angle.
Performance is a great first focus. How – and how well – does your company prepare your sales pros? Are they ready and able to outsell the competition?
Get to Know Your Staff’s Strengths:
What kind of talent do you have on staff? You can form impressions based on personal contact. But take it further, for a clearer picture. Sit in on your reps’ performance reviews. That will tell you more about whether you have successful sales leaders.
Turn to the Data:
The sales team gathers and uses data to manage and establish customer relationships. Log in to the CRM system to evaluate the information and how it’s used.
Look at leads. Look at what’s in the pipeline. Focus especially on the data’s quality — will it lead to sound decisions?
Hit the Road:
There’s nothing like a ride-along to show you what’s going on out there. Schedule time to get out and see your reps in action. This is your opportunity to evaluate how well your sales process is resonating with prospects.
Look in on the Training:
Check on the onboarding process and visit your company’s sales trainingsessions. Are these sessions well conducted? Do your reps benefit from them? Do they apply what they learn? Do your reps seek opportunities to sharpen their skills and competencies?
Build the Marketing Partnership:
This is a team effort, with marketing providing leads and sales pursuing them. But is marketing delivering the right leads? How does sales score their value? Guide sales and marketing in collaborating on the lead generation process.
Deeper Understanding of the Role
It’s not enough just to hire a VP of sales. Even a good one can be the wrong one for your business. We’ve found that sales VPs fall into two types: “build” and “run.”
A “build” person looks at the situation and determines it’s no good. The sales infrastructure needs reorganizing, or even rebuilding.
This is your VP if your methodologies, processes, tools and systems need overhauling. This is not your VP if your systems are functioning well. The build personality will rip that all out and replace it.
A “run” person sees the system as fine. It only needs someone to operate it and get peak value from it.
This is your VP if your systems are performing as needed. This is not your VP if there are process troubles to address. The run personality doesn’t know how to correct problems and put pieces in place.
Of course, selecting the right type of Sales Leader isn’t the only consideration. We’ve compiled 25 competencies of top-performing sales leaders in our latest tool. Use the checklist to ensure that your new sales leader has the expertise needed to hit the number. Download the Top 25 Sales Leader Competencies checklist here.
Toward Building a Better Company:
As we said at the start, this is only one possible course of action. You may have other plans that will serve you well. But taking on the role – temporarily – lets you experience its realities. Use what you learn to hire a top VP of sales.