So, we’ve talked a lot over the years on SaaStr on how to avoid a mis-hire for a key VP role:

  • We’ve talked here about the 48 Types of VPs of Sales, and making sure you hire the right type
  • We’ve talked here about how to hire the right VP of Marketing, so you get leads and not just blue pens with your logo on them
  • We’ve talked here about how to know if you’re hiring a real VP of Product or VP of Customer Success

And we’ve talked a lot about how quickly to know if you’ve made a mis-hire.  Which is on you, not them — always remember that.  After all, you know much more about the company than they do:

  • How here to look for the 8 signs a new VP isn’t going to work out — and 3 things not to worry so much about
  • How here that you’ll know in just 30 days if you’ve made a mis-hire at VP of Sales.

And finally, we’ve given you some interview guides:

  • 10 great questions here to ask a VP of Marketing candidate
  • 10 great questions here to ask a VP of Sales candidate
  • 9 great questions here to ask a VP of Customer Success candidate

Those really are some of our favorite and most popular SaaStr posts.

Read them all (or at least some), and you’ll dramatically decrease the odds of a mis-hire.

That is … unless … you make a Desperation VP Hire.  If you do, all that advice is out the door.

What’s a Desperation VP Hire?  It’s one that you make because … you’re tired.  Because you’ve spent 3-4 months, even 6-9 months or longer, trying to find that VP of Sales or Marketing or Success.  And you finally find someone that’s nice, that people like, that you know probably isn’t great.  But you make the hire anyway.  Because you’re burnt out on being the VP of Sales yourself, or simply because the business is slowing because you just haven’t made the hire.

But here’s what happens, 99% of the time when you hire a Desperation VP:

  • They are too slow to learn the product
  • Sales usually goes down
  • They hire mediocre people under them who often don’t understand the product
  • Those mediocre people drive sales (or marketing or whatever) down even further
  • Now, you have 3x-10x the number of folks in a functional area … and everything is worse
  • The good people you had before don’t really want to work for the Desperation VP, and either quit or start checking out a bit
  • And you’ve lost 6 months or more of time.

Here’s the point, and I’m not the only one to have said it, but I wanted to put it into its own SaaS post, so hopefully, it rattles around in your head before you make this mistake:

-> You are always better off with No VP than a Desperation VP.  Always.

And you are almost always better off promoting the best person on your current team, even if it’s just to Director, than hiring a Desperation VP.

The team you have now, without that VP, may not be perfect, but they’ll almost certainly operate better without the Desperation Hire.

If you just can’t find that VP, maybe, at some point, perhaps settle a bit.  But that means settling for someone Good, But Not Great.  But not just to fill a role.

At a bare minimum, be honest when you are feeling like it’s a Desperate Hire.  Ask everyone else what they think, your advisors especially.  And if you aren’t really sure that hire isn’t a Desperation Hire … then trust me.  Push on.

Keith Rabois and I also talked through the damage from this hire way back at the 2016 SaaStr Annual here:

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