Hiring your first VP of Sales is one of the most critical hires you will make in the early stages of your business. Getting it right can set your company up for an amazing growth trajectory. Getting it wrong can have devastating effects and at a minimum be a very expensive learning process.
We help our clients to get it right the first time with our Sales Leader Selection services and we do this by sticking to 5 key concepts.
Clear and Realistic Expectations
Step one is to really nail down and drive clarity to the specific goals and expectations you have for the sales strategy and how that boils down to goals and expectations you have the sales leader you plan to hire. You should be able to explain in less than 1 minute what you expect to accomplish in this next phase of growth as an organization and how you expect the sales leader to achieve those goals. It is important to make sure these goals are realistic. If you hire the right person, they will overachieve those goals anyway but if you set unrealistic goals, even the right person won’t be able to succeed.
Stick to candidates with actual relevant experience. It sounds simple enough, but it is actually one of the more common mistakes organizations make in the hiring process. Let’s say you are a $5 million company today but your 5-year goal is to reach $25 million, so should you hire a sales leader that is already successfully leading a $25 million team in your space? Yes, but ONLY if that person can demonstrate that they grew the sales team from $5 to $25 million. Managing a $25 million team is very different that developing one from $5 to $25 million. This goes back to the first point of having clarity around what the specific job is that you are filling.
Countless books have been written on the topic of different leadership and management types or styles. The trick is knowing which type would be best for your organization. Are you looking for a Sergeant, Visionary, Mentor/Coach or maybe a Strategic leader? Are you sure? Truth is, to get this right, you need a good process for determining which type of leader you need for the specific phase your company is in and the goals and expectations you have defined for future growth. Until you have worked through that process, it will be tough to refine the candidate pool.
It doesn’t matter how successful this candidate has been or how many great things they have accomplished if the don’t fit with the company culture or more importantly the culture you hope to either achieve or maintain as you grow. The first step for determining the fit is to ensure you clearly understand the culture of your company. When we work with clients in this area, we have a set of questions we pose to the leadership as well as the sales team individually. Once that is complete, we work with the leadership to customize the interview questions for the candidates specifically around cultural fit.
Don’t Rush and Don’t Settle
As the old adage goes, “Good things come to those who wait.” This is definitely true with hiring the right sales leader. Avoid putting a short timeline on finding the right candidate. Short timelines lead to settling and settling is bad.