Great VPs of Sales Never Hide from a Miss

We’ve talked a lot on SaaStr over the years about how to hire a great VP of Sales — and how to course-correct if you’ve made a mis-hire.

The two fastest-to-surface signs of a mis-hire:

  • No one great joins them in the first 30 days.  Every great VP of Sales has 1 or 2 folks that want to follow them from their last role.  And also has been quietly recruiting a few great folks anyway to join them at their next role.  Great VPs of Sales, even stretch VPs, are constantly networking to build the team they need both now — and later.  More on that here.
  • Nothing gets better in 1 sales cycle.  You don’t always need to see magic in your VP of Sales, especially at first.  Revenue doesn’t have to double in 1 sales cycle. But you do need to see things get better.  More on why that is here.

OK, but some of you will still give them … more time.  Even if they sort of fail the above test.  Your investors will probably encourage you to give them more time.  You may not have the energy to deal with it.

So let me tell you the #1 sign a VP of Sales just isn’t going to make it:  It’s when they Hide from a Miss.

What do I mean?  Sales is tough.  And it’s even harder for a VP of Sales than an AE because every quarter you have to do better.  You have to close even more than last quarter.  An individual rep doesn’t have to.  But the VP of Sales has to constantly and always do better.

And that sometimes is impossible to do every single day, week, month and quarter.  Sometimes, you just miss a quarter.  Hopefully not by a ton, hopefully it’s a soft miss, but it’s going to happen.

So what you’ll see at the next board meeting in particular, and hopefully in your e-staff meeting:

  • The VP of Sales gives you an early heads up the quarter will be tough
  • If they miss the quarter, then tell you before — and importantly, with a clear action plan to do better;
  • They don’t blame others, at least not too much :). They take most of the blame, even if say marketing also came up short;
  • Most importantly, they own it.  They own the miss.

If you miss a quarter and your new VP of Sales doesn’t own it, they’re scared.  They don’t know how to fix it.  They don’t know how to make it happen.  And they’re likely too scared to pull out of it.  They’re stalling for time.

I’ve seen many great VPs of Sales miss a quarter and drive the org to huge success.  But I’ve never seen a VP of Sales that didn’t own a miss make it.  At least be aware of the flag after the end of a tough month or quarter.  At the next team meeting, and especially at the next board meeting, if your VP of Sales doesn’t bring up the miss.  If they don’t take ownership of it, and share how they’ll do even better.

Likely, they never will.

Published on November 22, 2021

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