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Hiring a VP of Sales? What if you get it wrong?

Hiring a VP of Sales? What if you get it wrong?

Many organizations that began as startups grew out of the vision of the founders and likewise, their sales model continued to evolve within the scope of that vision. In many cases one of the founders takes on the focus of building and driving the sales process and oftentimes this initial stage delivers fast growth year over year. This is many times due to the personal passion and excitement that these leaders bring to the organization and how that translates to the sales team.

At some point though, in order for the business to continue to scale and grow, a dedicated sales leader needs to be hired. This is generally a function of needing to free up bandwidth at the founder level and create dedicated focus on the sales model. Seems simple enough and definitely a logical next step for the company to continue to grow.

Now it all comes down to hiring the right person which is a tall order for several reasons:

  • Unless your company is a recruiter, that is not one of your primary core competencies.

  • Recruiters and Headhunters can be expensive and can sometimes lean more toward filling a position quickly vs. finding the absolute best candidate.

  • How do you know if the candidates are really going to be able to execute on the existing vision while thinking strategically for the future? Truth is, very few people are able to do both of those things in general.

  • Will you be able to clearly articulate the current state of your sales model and the vision you expect to see realized?

  • How will any changes this leader makes affect the current trajectory, company culture, morale and other factors?

Many companies learn these lessons over time and if the individual they brought on is not able to fill those needs, they look to make a change and bring in another leader. This may seem like a failure at the sales leader level but more often than not, it actually has more to do with the founders not having a fully defined and documented vision or not having the right level of expectations of the person they are bringing into the organization.

This learning process with the first sales leader can often help the founders better define who they are really looking for and then the search begins again, however…

There are a few big challenges to this natural process:

It is expensive

It is disruptive

You still might not get it right the second time

Given that, it is always best if you get it right the first time and that simply comes down to preparedness.

It is at this phase that a company like Spark Growth Strategies can provide a very high level of value for a relatively short and cost effective engagement.

Here is how we do that:

  • Review, assess and document the current model. This first simple step has a huge impact on the rest of the process. If one of the founders has been building and leading sales, they often take for granted all of the knowledge and nuances that are locked up in their brains instead of clearly defined and documented as a core piece of the roadmap.

  • Gain an understanding of the founder’s goals for the company both short and long term. This plays a key role in helping to define a go forward plan and ensures those goals are addressed.

  • Identify gaps or areas that could be strengthened in the sales process, structure or even the individual team members and determine the best solutions going forward.

  • Provide guidance and work with either internal or external recruiters to improve the odds of identifying the best candidates. We also have a very extensive network of sales leaders that we have had experience with and can potentially improve the candidate pool through those relationships.

  • We can also be involved in the interview process and provide feedback and input on candidates from an independent viewpoint.

So before you go out hunting for your first VP of Sales, reach out and let’s talk about our Sales Leader Selection process and how it can benefit your business.

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