The VP of Sales’ primary responsibility is delivering revenue, wether it's a hard number, growth/profit targets, and/or market share. It's a critical position in any company. Unfortunately, VP of Sales positions are notorious for high turnover—usually due to burnout or bad fit. In fact, there’s reason for the common saying “You’ve Got to Get Past the Carcass of Your First VP of Sales”.
Due to the importance of the VP of Sales role, it’s imperative to get the right person in place on the first try to avoid having this saying become an expensive and painful reality. You need a VP of Sales who fits within your unique company culture, understands your sales environment, and won’t leave you high and dry in two years (the typical duration of a VP of Sales).
SRi follows a Your Culture, Your Clients, Your Way approach, and we understand that every organization is different and therefore require specific characteristics in their sales leadership. However, there are key attributes that we believe ANY top-performing VP of Sales must possess; they are:
- They know their top 20 deals. They know where they stand in each of these major accounts, and are closely connected to the customer. They manage these accounts personally to ensure the relationship remains solid, the customer isn’t looking elsewhere, and the accounts continue to generate top dollar amounts.
- They are connected with the sales organization. They are deeply engaged and invested in their sales organization and team, rather than a disengaged onlooker. They can be found out on the sales floor and in the field, rather than holed up in their office with the door closed. They are committed to continual improvement and coaching for themselves and the sales team.
- They set the strategy and the direction of the sales team. They are a visionary, able to visualize and lay out a clear strategy for the sales team to follow. They take charge of turning this vision into reality through thoughtful leadership and a disciplined approach to sales coverage and territory management.
- They set the tone of the sales organization. Due to their executive-level position, the VP of Sales has a huge impact on company culture. Their mentality and approach will be mirrored by their team, and they must be aware of how all of their actions and behaviors affect others, for good and bad.
- They focus on the customer and the prospect. They take an outward-facing approach and always remember to put the customer and prospect first, and it's evident in all of their decisions and sales activities.
- They always know where they are in the sales funnel. They are constantly double-and-triple-checking where they are in the sales funnel. They always know what their sales team is working on, and the activities needed to keep the funnel full and free of clogs.
- They make the company look good. The VP of Sales is in many cases the face of company, and certainly of the sales organization. The best VPs of Sales are great with interpersonal communications, public speaking, and networking, and they always give a positive impression of the company for which they work.
The VP of Sales is an individual that SRi frequently works with, through hiring, coaching, and optimization of sales teams and organizations. We’ve coached many sales managers into great VPs of Sales, and we’ve helped VPs of Sales from previous companies integrate seamlessly into a new workplace. Most of the VPs of Sales we’ve trained last much longer than two years, and they are great leaders who are satisfied with their roles, and their respective companies are thrilled with their performance.
Do you need to hire a VP of Sales, or do you have a struggling VP of Sales at risk of becoming a "carcass"? If you aren’t reaching your revenue goals, take a closer look at your VP of Sales and determine if they have above-mentioned attributes. If the answer is “no”, schedule a complimentary sales consultation with an SRi expert to discuss the situation and determine an effective solution.