article | February 21, 2014
New Sales VP: How to Work With Your CEO
You were recently promoted to head of sales. The main reason for your promotion? You are, without a doubt, the best salesperson in the organization. Your promotion was well-deserved.
In most small and medium size companies, this is how it works. The Sales VP job goes to the best seller. But now this individual has to rapidly learn a new skill set. Or fail. Being the best salesperson is table stakes. One of the skills you must acquire is how to work with your CEO.
Download the SBI Guide to Working With Your CEO. Get 8 fundamental questions and 8 advanced tips to use with your CEO.
Sales Leaders get this wrong every day. They know they need to make the number. But they aren’t sure how to build a relationship with their new boss. When this happens, you never get deeper than “Can this guy improve my revenue?” You are not included in strategic conversations. You are just another executive. The Guide to Working With Your CEO will help prevent this.
Our research reveals that most CEOs are, to a degree, consensus builders. They want to get the team aligned in the direction of their goals. They prefer this to unilaterally announcing a goal and directing the team towards it. They expect you to provide the tactical support. If this describes your CEO, then you have a real chance to work with him – if you know how. But if you come at your CEO the wrong way, he will shut you down. Here’s an example. It’s one of the tips you get when you download the Guide to Working With Your CEO:
Use Metrics Every Time
New sales leaders especially tend to believe that sales is more art than science. Many are uncomfortable with any metrics other than quota attainment and revenue per head. They want to talk about things that can’t be measured, like client relationships. Yet according to Spencer Stuart, what are the two most common career paths for CEOs? Finance and Operations.
If this is the case with your CEO, embrace it. Don’t get shut down. Bring insight from metric data to every interaction. If you want more headcount to make the number, don’t just ask for it. State your case with metrics like Total Available Market (TAM) and selling time allocation. Perform top-down and bottoms-up sizing exercises (for more on how to do this click here). Get comfortable with metric data. Your boss is.
Make no mistake. Your CEO cares about making the number. But he also cares about the “who” of his leadership team. We have seen sales VPs survive multiple misses because of their relationship with the CEO. And we’ve seen some get fired after one bad year. Build a strong relationship with your CEO. Increase your chances of being a long-term asset. The distant sales VP may not last when a year goes sideways.
Congratulations on your promotion. Download the Guide to Working With Your CEO and start thinking about what’s next. Let me know if I can help.