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Sales Empowerment Group Blog

How to Increase Odds of Finding the Right VP of Sales

Posted by Brian O'Neil on Apr 3, 2019

Over the past few years, there has been a big shift in the Sales Management and VP of Sales role for small- to medium-size organizations.

What once was a very tenured position has turned into a two-year role. Recent research shows that the average tenure of a Sales Manager/VP of Sales is 19 months, down from 24 months a year ago.

Today, we have so many more responsibilities as a Sales Manager/VP of Sales. If you reflect back to 10 to 12 years ago, you had to focus on the manual forecast – with very few electronic systems in place -- and field rides.

Today, because of technological advancements and pressure of getting the number quicker, things have dramatically changed. This salesforce.com article explains how the advancement of technology has increased pressure and may lead to failing sales leaders. https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/07/top-challenges-todays-sales-leaders.html.

Many organizations want to hire the permanent Sales Manager/VP of Sales with a long-term commitment. When asked what KPIs that person will be held accountable to, the response includes the following:

  1. Train and execute on social selling tools and methods (i.e. LinkedIn, Hootsuite)
  2. Build an effective lead generation team (predictable revenue model)
  3. eLearning/sales training models to increase close rates
  4. Recruit top-notch sales talent
  5. Assist in closing large accounts
  6. Optimizing the CRM to drive the sales number
  7. Grow the company by 20-30% every year

As Chris Berman would say, “C’mon Man!!!"

As you know, not even the most tenured or experienced Sales Manager/VP of Sales can handle all seven areas. The best can tackle three, or maybe four of the seven areas.

You then need to outsource or hire internally in the other key areas using sales training companies, outsourced lead generation models, CRM expertise (optimizing your CRM), and talent recruitment firms.

It becomes critical during interviews to start asking questions like those below, making sure you dig deep into all areas:

What is your sales training based upon? How do you deliver your training? What is your process for continual development? Does your training have verifiable outcomes? If you are not the go-to person for training, how do you plan to surround yourself with the right trainer or outsourced training methodology?

Remember, your goal is not to knock someone out of the running because they don’t check every box. It is your goal to find the best candidate that strategically aligns with the core responsibilities of a Sales Manager/VP of Sales, and then determine if that person can articulate what key resources will be needed in each key area (please refer to the VP of Sales Responsibilities in 2019 – below).

Of course, they should have experience and expertise in some of the key areas from past positions. They should be able to give concrete examples of how they will accelerate your revenue with each responsibility below, in-house or outsourced.

In Summary:

The main reason the tenure has dramatically dropped is because the C-Level expects all of this to be done and implemented quickly. When interviewing your next Sales Manager and VP of Sales, make sure you ask questions in all seven areas.

If the individual can handle three to four of the seven key areas, they are being honest. Make sure you talk through the investment of resources needed to align the person with the right hires and outsourced models to be successful together. Then you have a great chance to grow your business and be together for many years.