Why, When & How to Hire a VP of Sales

vp of sales planning

Hiring a great Vice President of Sales is one of the most critical hires in a business.  They are the ones responsible for sourcing and retaining customers and generating revenue.  Hiring the correct VP of Sales for your business is challenging.  It has unique skills that are required to be successful.  Often, a VP of Sales is promoted from a position where they were a successful individual contributor.  A great salesperson does not necessarily equate to being a great sales leader. 

This means you need to identify a candidate who brings a blend of experience as an individual contributor with strong people management skills.  A metrics-oriented person who understands how to attract, develop and retain sales teams.  Someone who can mentor the team in selling value and the ability to solve customer problems. 

So let’s establish a VP of Sales’ typical duties and responsibilities.  Let’s explore when you should get a VP of sales and how to ensure you hire one with world-class capabilities, using a sales executive search firm.

What are The VP of Sales Responsibilities?

The VP of Sales main responsibilities commonly are:

  • Developing and optimizing the sales pitch for your product
  • Finding Customers for your product & managing their relationships
  • Creating and negotiating deals with your customers
  • Hiring, training and reviewing the work for your sales teams
  • Collecting information on your customer’s needs to help further develop the product further, and create new products to introduce to the market.
  • Optimizing CRM systems to increase the sales team’s performance and customer satisfaction.
  • Managing the sales team’s budget.
  • Reporting sales performance

Who Does the VP of Sales Report to?

The VP of Sales reports to the CEO, but in larger companies, the position could report into a Chief Revenue Officer.  The VP of Sales often has a close interface with the:

Why you should get a VP of sales

Having a great Vice President of Sales will increase your revenue. They will also help to increase the lifetime value of each customer.

A good VP of Sales will have a positive impact on your business, by:

  • Optimizing your sales process
  • Improving your sales teams performance
  • Helping to create products or services that customers want

When you should get a VP of Sales

You should hire a VP of sales, when:

  • Your business is in a growth phase
  • You need dedicated leadership in your sales team
  • You have the financial resources to support a VP of Sales
  • You have multiple lines of business and need someone to manage the leaders of those lines.

Qualities of a Great VP of Sales

The qualities of a great VP of sales are:

  • Leadership: They need to be able to lead and motivate a sales team
  • Strategic: They need to be able to see the big picture and make decisions that will positively impact the long-term growth of the company
  • Communication: They need to be able to clearly communicate their vision to the sales team, and customers
  • Problem-solving: They need to be able to identify problems and quickly come up with solutions
  • Decisive: They need to be able to make decisions quickly
  • Hard-working: They need to be willing to put in the long hours to get the job done
  • Coachable: They need to be open to feedback and bettering their skills.

How to Compensate a VP of Sales

Salary.com VP of sales salary range USA

According to Salary.com we can see that the average yearly salary of a VP of Sales in the USA are as follows:

  • 10% $184,093
  • 25% $219,883
  • 50%(Median) $259,193
  • 75% $300,683
  • 90% $338,457

With median salary + bonus + benefits = $481,418

sales report

How To Hire a VP of Sales

It is challenging to find a Vice President of Sales who is both qualified and interested in meeting the needs of your company. Because of this, most businesses today use executive search firms to find new employees. There are, however, some best practices I can share on how to hire a vice president of sales, whether you work with an executive search firm or not.

Create a Search Team

Involving multiple members of management in the search process is the best course of action for any company. Executives like the CEO, CMO, CRO, CFO, and COO should be on the VP of Sales’ list of regular contacts.

Together, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you need from your next hire and how they’ll fit into the larger organization. Without favoritism and with a broader perspective.

Establish your needs for your new hire

Given your business type, organizational setup, and target market, you and your search team need to have a lengthy discussion on what you require when hiring a VP of Sales. Aligning your team in this way will allow for a more efficient and rapid search.  Questions I would recommend asking your team are:

  • What will be the responsibilities of our VP of Sales?
  • Who will they report to?
  • Are they taking those responsibilities from others?
  • What is necessary knowledge/ experience for them in the role?
  • What is useful knowledge/ experience for them in the role?
  • What does success look like in 3/6/12/24 months?
  • What doing a bad job look like?

There are countless other questions you could ask that may be more relevant to your company, but I think these broad questions will spark some interesting discussion.

Consider your hiring process

Check out my guide on how to hire senior managers, or how to hire C-level executives for a more in-depth look into this process. 

Work with an executive search firm.

Hiring the correct VP of sales for your business is one of the more difficult challenges.  Due to the technicality of your product, the industry you are in, and your customers.  Some sales executive search consultants specialize in filling commercial leadership roles, such as a VP of Sales.  Consultants who can bring expertise to your search team and help you find the best talent for your business.  While the search firm focuses on identifying the best available talent in the market, your leadership team can focus on the business at hand without any distractions.

Want help with your executive search? Contact me. As a Managing Partner at Boyden,  I can personally help you or connect you to the best suited search consultant within Boyden’s global team.  We have search specialists who who can successfully find talent in regional and global markets. We have the capacity to scale our search capacity to meet your needs at a moment’s notice, no matter what role you need anywhere in the world.

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