• Ayan Ghosh

Is it time for your start up to get a Sales VP?

Updated: Sep 7, 2018

When you have developed your final product and you believe that the product is market ready, one of your priority is to gain traction and then grow your business.

As a founder, you must concentrate on running a successful start-up, and take it from say $ 0 to $ 1 million and so on. You are no longer the guy who needs to be involved in day to day lead generation or deals closing even though you probably would have started off that way.

You know it’s time to get some expert help and that’s where you go ahead and hire a sales VP. Now, she need-not already be a VP in an organisation, a sales manager or highly potential sales rep would do just fine and more often they are lesser expensive.

It might also help if she has a solid understanding of marketing & customer delight, if not direct working experience. This usually comes handy while your C-suite tries to reverse engineer the sales funnel.

However, make sure she has very high analytical and learning abilities and also probably possess great people skills.

What does a sales VP do?

Firstly, you must understand that a VP’s job is not only to close deals or carry a huge sales quota. Rather, have her be accountable for 10-15% of your annual revenue target. Carrying some bit of quota will also help in staying updated towards the market conditions.

Your sales VP must be a sales enabler meaning that if your sales process is broken or needs optimisation, she is the one who crunches the numbers, experiments and comes up with a predictable & sustainable solution.

As a sales VP or sales leader, she must have the ability to help her reps meet their targets. Her acumen & experience should come in handy when she helps her team handle customer objections, manage pipelines monthly or quarterly, etc.

As your start up starts to gain traction, you need that momentum to take you forward. One of the key tasks a sales VP faces is recruiting. It is recommend that 10-25% of a sales VPs time be spent on professional networking to find the correct fit for the sales team.

How to hire your sales VP?

The most common way is to look at someone you have worked with or someone from within your professional network. This usually works out as you/ someone you trust can vouch for their skills, discipline, commitment, etc.

Another way, which is more traditional is to hire one from your competitor. Irrespective of the industry you are in, I’m quite sure that your competitor has a sales manager who is quite eager to take the next step!

Some question that you might want to ask at the interview?

  1. What are the three things that he would like to do if brought onboard? Or What are her 6 months, 12 months and 36 months plan for your company?

  2. Ask them to explain their current sales process. What is not working and what needs improvements?

  3. Have you ever had to manage or retain your best sales rep? If so, how did you manage / retain them?

  4. What are your thoughts on competition within the sales team? How would you encourage health competition?

  5. Could you draw up a sales cycle for us? This should start from attracting leads to closing deals and then retaining them?

  6. Who is your best customer / client? Why?

  7. What are your thoughts on your current sales team? Did you hire them?

  8. What sales tools are you comfortable with or have experience using?

  9. What are the 3 reports you would absolutely want? A good manager or VP should be able to list 5 easily!

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