Q: Dear SaaStr: What is the path to become a great VP of Sales?

Each story is different, but there is one clear penultimate step: recruiting and managing a small team yourself.

What 95 times out of 100 is a recipe for failure is jumping straight from successful individual rep to VP of sales. If you are the #1 rep at a hot startup, you will get VP of Sales offers from other up-and-coming startups. A CEO or two will want to take that risk, to hire the #1 rep at Hot Startup to be their VP of Sales. My advice is don’t take that job.

Instead, you have to learn to recruit. 50% of the job of a VP of Sales is recruiting a great team. Not just managing one.

A related mistake is a director of sales who inherited a team but didn’t recruit one, jumps straight to VP of Sales. That almost always = failure as well.

Take your time, get promoted at least to manager or director level and recruit 2–3 reps yourself that hit quota.  Then you’re ready for a stretch VP of Sales role at an early but fast-growing startup.

If you can find a way to recruit 2–3 that can hit quota … which is hard, and a very different skill than hitting your own quota … you can recruit 20–30, or more.

You then can be a very successful VP of Sales.

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