Being a VP of Sales has never been easy.
You’re held accountable by your sales crew and the executive team simultaneously, each with their own expectations.
But, in today’s evolving economy being a VP of Sales is the hardest job.
Daily, your performance is tied to the success of your sales team’s quota attainment, regardless of the amount of contribution you had toward calculating its value.
Concurrently, the sales team looks at the VP of Sales as the motivational leader, the master sales guru, and the equilibrium manager who balances corporate communication and support with realistic input from those in the trenches.
Yet, great Vice Presidents of Sales add value.
So how can a VP of Sales add value?
The best Vice Presidents of Sales learn quickly that in order to be successful they must add value to both their sales team and CEO to succeed.
8 Ways a Vice President of Sales Can Add Value To Their Sales Team
1. Less paperwork… more fieldwork.
Selling is a premeditated sport. You need to get into the game. Managing from the sidelines only hurts your credibility. Don’t just “ride along” with your sales team to look busy. Instead, get your own new accounts to stay sharp in the sales game.
2. Train more; talk less.
Your sales team needs help. Schedule, pay for, or expense ongoing sales training to help your sales team sell more. All sales managers say that sales training is important, but less than half actually follow through and deliver continuing education.
3. Forecast sales accurately… not based upon what your CEO wants to hear.
Yes, most sales forecasts are inaccurate at best and a joke at their worst. Stand up and forecast accurately to your boss. Being a meek, mild VP of Sales gets you nowhere and no respect. Your sales team will know that you lack confidence.
4. Analyze why your firm loses business.
Help your sales team sell more; know why your firm loses business. Believing what an operations, marketing or salesperson told you is only going to get you filtered, unsubstantiated data. Talk to lost sales prospects and find out the reason why.
5. Be a mentor to the sales team; be an advisor to the CEO.
When someone finally becomes a VP of Sales for the first time he/she immediately learns the duality of responsibility of serving two masters. Many times, Vice Presidents of Sales dismiss individual sales team member’s observations and qualify their input as just observations from a high maintenance account manager. Yes, there are always account managers who spend more time complaining than selling, but input from your team many times becomes advisement content for your CEO.
Yet, many Vice Presidents of Sales hold back telling their Senior Vice President of Sales or their CEO what is really going on.
Listen, you’re the VP of Sales and part of the senior management team. Holding back because you might hurt the CEO’s ego or because it’s not politically correct is a sign that you are not qualified to be the VP of Sales.
Always mentor your sales team to greater success by listening to them and always advise your CEO with straight forward advisement.
6. Manage salespeople by their business metrics.
A VP of Sales has a tendency to hire new sales executives based upon the mirror image of their own sales style or based upon a projected image he/she has of what a successful salesperson should be like.
Never manage your sales team members by their personalities only. They are who they are, and you are who you are.
Manage salespeople by their sales metrics.
Number of calls… number of demos… number of proposals and number of purchase orders. Yes, high maintenance salespeople can be difficult where metrics are concerned, but so can well-liked salespeople who don’t sell!
7. Demand more qualified sales leads from marketing.
Marketing is a staff department created to support the sales team (a line department.) Salespeople need more qualified sales leads not pretty brochures or bigger trade show booths. You’re the VP of Sales; you need to demand more qualified leads from marketing. Even if your firm has to terminate several associates from the marketing department to pay for lead generation, do it.
8. Tell the CEO the truth.
As pressure mounts in the boardroom, it trickles down to the executive team at their weekly meeting. Each executive feels the weight of non-performance, but no job feels it more on a weekly basis than the VP of Sales.
When was the last time you heard a VP of Operations was fired for their bench utilization stats being out of line? When was the last time a VP of Marketing was terminated because their brochures were not ready? It doesn’t happen.
When was the last time a VP of Sales was let go because their firm missed their sales forecast? It happens every day. But, that’s why most base salaries of Vice Presidents of Sales are two to three times higher than their individual sales team members. With the money comes the responsibility. With the money comes the pressure for your team to sell more and for you to be fired faster than any other manager on the executive team.
Since, you can get fired faster (regardless if it is your fault), you might as well go ahead and talk to the CEO like a business peer. Yes, like a business peer.
You are not being paid two (or three) times the amount in base salary to be a subordinate. Treat your CEO like a peer and he/she will respect you more. Act like a subordinate and you might as well go back to being a salesperson carrying an individual quota.
Tell the CEO the truth.
It doesn’t matter if your product or service is lacking, the marketing department VP is not qualified, or that your salespeople won’t cold call.
Don’t hold back, tell the CEO what you believe and you might even keep your job!
Being a VP of Sales is the hardest job!