What Do You Really Want From Your VP of Sales?

My new home gym.

2 years ago, I signed up for an online training program from GMB Fitness.

At the time, I had no plans to change my high-intensity crossfit training routine. I just wanted to learn how to do handstand pushups and to move a bit more fluidly.

When I signed up for the course, GMB surprised me by asking,

“What do you really want and why?”

Over the next few months, this question kept popping into my head.

Gradually, I came to recognize that what I really wanted was to be stronger, more flexible and be able to move gracefully, without incurring nagging injuries.  (My fitness goals had changed significantly since the time when I began working out 30 years ago. Back then I wanted to have big muscles and impress women. Although I wouldn’t mind attaining these, I’m a realistic.)

This led me to transform my entire approach to training. As a result, at 49 years old, I am now stronger and able to move in ways I had previously thought impossible. I’m rarely injured and my wife no longer makes fun of my lack of flexibility (she used to call me “the Tin Man”).*

When hiring (or firing) a VP of Sales you should ask yourself the same question: 

What do you want and why?

On the surface, the answer seems obvious – more sales!

But let’s dive deeper. Do you want your VP to…

…find and close deals himself to increase revenues? Hire proven sales reps instead.

…bring a rolodex of key contacts?  Good luck with that. You might find a VP or a rep with a few contacts who convert to customers. My experience has been that this is extremely rare. 

…mentor, develop and manage sales reps to build a stronger sales team?  Hire a manager, not a VP.  

…recruit and hire top notch sales reps? Again, a good manager is often better at this than a VP. 

…develop sales talent internally? A sales manager’s job. 

…create a plan to move upmarket from SMB to enterprise? Hire a VP. 

…be the front man with investors, the press, the public?  Here, you’ll need a VP. 

…develop strategic sales plans?  Hire a VP.

…execute strategic sales plans? You may need both a VP and a manager. 

…participate in Board presentations and investor relations? Hire a VP. 

You get the idea.

You will never find the perfect candidate who excels at everything you need. So instead, I recommend identifying your top 3 priorities and hiring the candidate who can deliver on these.

Then allow him hire managers, trainers and consultants to fill in the gaps where he lacks the time, skills or experience to execute optimally.

The average tenure of a VP of Sales at startups is between 18-24 months. If you are experiencing that kind of turnover, it will set you back years in terms of sales revenues and in building a sales team that can carry you forward.

Not to mention, it’s costing you time, effort and money every time you recruit, hire and ramp up another VP of Sales.

So before you make a change, I urge you to ask and answer the questions posed above.

It could make the difference between achieving your most important goals or forever falling short.

*If you want to see me do a handstand, crane pose or ring front lever, email me and I’ll send you a picture. To learn how to do them yourself, check out GMB Fitness.

For help solving your sales problem, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you. 

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