New_Sales_VP_A_Survival_Guide_Key_to_Success_bwCongratulations!  You got the promotion to VP of Sales.  You may be returning from Sales Kickoff.  Maybe you are getting settled from the President’s Club trip.  Very soon you will ask yourself, ”What do I do now?”  Moving up in your career is both exciting and stressful.  All great sales leaders have a plan on how to win.  To accelerate your success, SBI has produced the VP of Sales Toolkit.


The guide highlights the areas that successful VPs should focus on.  More importantly, it tells you the sequence that you should do them in.  Many new sales leaders waste time because they don’t know where to focus.  Here are a few that can impact your success:


  • Sales compensation– Direct reports immediately state that compensation is an issue.  They push for compensation changes.  This takes place before quotas are even reviewed.  The new sales leader spends wasted time reconciling compensation plans.
  • Sales Training– HR and sales enablement want to get their development plan pushed through ASAP.  They think that immediate training will help the team hit the number.  Make sure you first understand the success of current programs.  Don’t compound the problem.
  • Sales Performance Management– Executives want you to answer, “Why are so many reps missing their quota?”  You need to understand the root cause(s) before you fix the problem.  Be careful that you base decisions on facts.  It will take time to gather and analyze.   Don’t answer before you have the facts you need.
  •  Personnel– There are open sales positions throughout the organization.  You need to understand which ones should or should not be filled.  Take the time to understand what positions are critical first.


The list could go on, but you get the point. There are a lot of things coming at you.  A new Sales VP needs to know where to focus their time and efforts.  The sales organization is now relying on you to lead.  If you don’t have a plan on where to focus, you will fail.  Ensure that doesn’t happen by downloading the VP of Sales Toolkit.


Validate Your Decisions

Many new VPs of Sales want to make changes or updates right away.  Before anything is implemented, you must look at it through four categories:


  1. Corporate– Ensure that you have executive buy-in. Interview and sit down with internal stakeholders to see how they view sales.  If they don’t agree, you will be challenged to get things done.
  2. Customers– Too many times a new strategy or program is launched without customer input.  To have a successful program, spend time talking to customers and prospects.  This will help you understand what customers’ value from you as a vendor.  If you make decisions that reduce your value, they will go to the competition.
  3. Competitors– Today’s successful sales leaders have studied their competition. They know how they go-to-market.  Figure out your competitions weak spots and where to attack.
  4. Field– Your sales team’s acceptance is vital.  Make the time in the first 30 days to get out in the field.  Hold team meetings and ensure that your vision is being communicated directly from YOU.  Then reinforce with your direct reports.  Get into the trenches to see how things really work.  These activities will show that you are a hands-on leader.


When you validated across the four categories, its then time to implement your changes. Don’t cut corners or take the easy way out.


Play the Long Game

The average sales leader is pushed out within 19 months of taking the role.  Ensure that you have a plan that you can execute against.  Utilize the VP of Sales Toolkit to guide you from day 1.  Successful Sales VPs know how to perform.  You were promoted for a reason.  Continue to sharpen your skills and don’t become a statistic.



Josh Horstmann

Brings a deep level of experience and insight in helping organizations develop and execute their corporate, sales and marketing strategies.

Josh specializes in helping clients solve demanding sales and marketing challenges through aligning functional strategies within an organization. He has worked with clients in manufacturing, ecommerce, software, financial services and technology sectors.


Recently he helped transform an international services company ‘go to market’ strategy, which included assessing talent, re-organizing the sales force, increasing team productivity, reducing the cost of sale and aligning the marketing and sales strategies.


Josh continues to provide thought leadership to his clients advising them on how to build inside sales teams, develop compensation programs, share best practices on social selling, transform sales organizations, drive demand generation programs and acquire and cultivate talent. Along with this he helps organizations align functional strategies.


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