My VP of Sales didn’t work out, now what?

by James Ker-Reid - July 1, 2021

It’s every Founder’s worst nightmare: Facing the realisation that the VP of Sales you hired is not working out. When you hired them, they interviewed well, had a great track record, and appeared to show the skills needed…but after 3 months you realised you might have made a mistake.

Perhaps worse is the realisation that the previous three salespeople in a row haven’t worked out. And now you’re aware that messing up recruitment with wrong hires is proving expensive and frustrating and could harm your brand too.

Why do you have a revolving door when it comes to hiring?

Having worked with more than 70 Pre-Seed to Series A tech businesses we have talked about this in great depth at Sales and Startups. The sad fact is that most VP of Sales won’t make it past the first 12 months mark. And earlier this month we conducted a survey on the main reasons why startups fail to generate revenue, and 10% of respondents agreed recruiting the wrong skillset. Here’s the snapshot of the review of B2B tech startups:

Being a VP of Sales is not for everyone. They have to be able to manage a team of salespeople through the good times and plan ahead for the bad times, handle additional pressures from above and hit growing targets consistently.

As crazy as it might sound, the single biggest challenge I see when startups hire sales leaders is that they don’t actually know who they need and why they need them. There is a huge difference between someone who can step in and scale an existing sales process vs someone who has experience building them from scratch. The key is to understand which one your business needs and when you need them.

Also, I’ve spotted a bias towards hiring a VP of Sales first without any revenue generators in the team. Often, we are expecting these sales leaders to be a chameleon on steroids: a revenue generator, strategist, recruiters, business builder and board member.

When we surveyed over 100 VPs of Sales in B2B technology whether they would prefer to inherit an existing team or start one from scratch, this is what they said:

Breaking the endless cycle of source-hire-repeat

One option that is not commonly considered is using a sales consultancy. This option would help gain clarity in the strategy, gain confidence in the execution while attracting and retaining the right workforce and getting traction from the defined sales operations.

Sales is agile. Leveraging the expertise of a consultancy that’s working with other like minded startups is a sure way to remain competitive, abreast of developments while avoiding large costs associated with internal hiring.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many very talented VP of Sales. They are great recruiters, masterful forecasters, and serve as mentors to sales managers and salespeople alike. They are charismatic leaders who measure their success using three criteria; meeting revenue goals, creating an environment where the entire team can succeed, and helping the entire company realise its potential.

But they are not all the same. It’s important that you hire the right salespeople and leaders at the right time for your business.

There is a sequence to success. At Sales for Startups our goal is to get your business VP-ready.

Download our resource to avoid these 9 mistakes tech companies make when hiring a VP of Sales and book a consultation call with me.

 



Further Reading

Patrick Thorp
November 12, 2020

5 brilliant examples of sales goals and objectives

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Patrick Thorp
April 7, 2021

How to create your own Revenue Operations strategy

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Patrick Thorp
September 3, 2020

Revenue Operations vs Sales Operations – what’s the difference?

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