How To Still Hire a Great VP of Sales Even If You Are Struggling

When you are finally ready to hire your VP of Sales, oftentimes, there’s often a bit of a quiet panic around time.  About getting the hire done.  Because there’s a window.   Even if you are growing like a weed up to $1m, $2m, $4m ARR or beyond … you can see growth is going to slow down without help.  You can’t hire more reps yourself.  You don’t know the rest of the playbook and don’t have the rest of the toolkit.  You can see that even with great sales rep efficiency with, say, 1-3 reps, it is going to slow down unless you bring in that VP in time.

And indeed it often does.  If you don’t hire the management you need for each stage, you’ll almost always at least slow down at each phase transition.

But then so often, I see startups still able to hire a great VP of Sales even after sales slows down a bit.  Often, to much less than outlier rates.

Why?  Why would a great VP of Sales join a start-up with mediocre growth?

Because great VPs of Sales aren’t dumb.  Some of the most proven ones only want to join the next Snowflake or Zoom.  If they truly have it all, they will wait for that shot.

But the most self-aware stretch VPs of Sales know they aren’t going to get called up at Zoom, so they look for the next best thing.  And that’s probably:

  • A decently-enough funded startup (so they can hire)
  • With a great CEO they believe in (so they can run)
  • With at least a mini-brand (to back up sales)
  • With leads.   With demand.

And a great Stretch VP of Sales can come in and see say 30% annual growth paired with a beloved product and tons of leads … as an opportunity.

And opportunity to turn that 30% growth into 50% growth with a few tweaks to the sales team.  To 70% growth with a new playbook and some strong hires.  And 100% growth with a great VP of Demand Gen to help them.

They know when they see the raw ingredients of success, and know if they can turn that into something special.

So if growth has slowed down, but you have happy customers, a mini-brand and leads … don’t hire your challenges from those VP of Sales candidates.  And don’t assume you can’t hire one.  Share the good, the great — and the challenges.

You’ll be surprised that 1-2 stretch candidates at least are up for that challenge.

And a SaaStr Classic on how this happens:

How My VP, Sales Doubled Our Sales in 90 Days. And No, It Wasn’t Magic.

Published on September 21, 2020

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