Dear SaaStr: What are Some Early Signs a New VP isn’t Going to Be a Fit?

The top one for me is when they don’t embrace the goals given to them.  I see this again and again:

  • A VP of Sales that just sort of ignores the plan for the next quarter or two.
  • A CMO that focuses on the types of marketing she or he likes to do, ignoring what’s worked in the past, and ignoring a commit to sales
  • A VP of Product that builds what they think should be built, based on lots of internal discussions, but without talking to enough customers
  • A VP of Customer Success that doesn’t want to be responsible for driving up NRR, CSAT, etc.

A tough part of being a VP is you have to try to hit the goals you are given. But it’s the job.

Don’t like the ARR plan? You can’t just go change it on your own. Want to do press, not generate leads? Too bad. Don’t want to be on the hook for driving down terrible churn? Well, you know …

I’ve seen many seasoned execs come into a new situation, realize they are in over their heads … and try to change the goals to fit their skills.  Often without even really fully getting buy-in from the CEO.

It never works out. In a start-up, you can miss a quarter or two, and come up short on some medium-term goals, as tough as it can be.

But everyone has to be aligned on the same goals. And importantly, they have to be the CEO’s goals.

The CEO’s goals have to be your goals. You have to believe in them, and give it your all. If you can’t, don’t take the role.  Or move on.

And if you see a VP subtly (or not-so-subtly) berating the goals, or changing them … it isn’t going to be a fit.

A related post here:

If Your VP Hasn’t Done Some Key Part of the Job by Day 90. They Never Will.

(Note: an updated SaaStr Classic answer)

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