Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

A Sales VP is responsible for building and managing a successful sales team that generates revenue. This means that it is absolutely critical to choose well when bringing a new Sales VP into your organization. For a sales management position of this caliber, mis-hiring is expensive and can cause your organization to lose momentum.

But people in charge of hiring new Sales VPs (usually CEOs) might not have much knowledge or experience in sales because they come from diverse backgrounds, Harvard Business Review points out. This can make it really difficult to pick the right candidate.

The first question most executives think to ask their Sales VP candidates is: “If you were hired tomorrow, what would our revenue look like in 120 days?” While their response to this can be telling, there are other more important areas to explore with your candidates. A common misconception is that Sales VPs is responsible for closing deals – in fact, his/her main responsibility is to teach others to fish rather than giving them the fish. At the interview, you want to create a dialogue and find out which candidates are for real, which can be true leaders, and which are good fits for your company and industry.

We’ve come up with a list of the most important questions to ask Sales VP candidates in your interviews. Here they are, organized by category.

Building/scaling a sales team

Your candidate’s plan and methodology for building a sales force is arguably the most important area to explore with them in an interview. Building and scaling a sales team is an expensive and time-consuming process, so you’ll want to make sure they have an excellent grasp on how to hire the right people, can onboard new reps quickly and effectively, and build selling skills through great coaching.

  • Tell me about the teams you’ve managed and how you built them.

  • What is your sales hiring methodology? How do you mitigate risk?

  • What is your sales onboarding methodology?

  • What is your sales coaching philosophy?

  • Given what you know about our company, how big of a sales team do you think we need?

  • What do you think are the best traits for sales reps? Sales managers?

  • How do you plan to build a compensation plan?

Developing sales strategy

Your best candidates will come in to the interview with a plan for competing in the marketplace and optimizing revenue per lead. For example, a great Sales VP should plan to implement a concrete, well-defined sales process to ensure consistency across the whole team and give next-step guidance to your sales reps.

  • What are some ways you would make our sales team more efficient?

  • Tell me about any experience you have creating sales processes.

Managing sales metrics & employee performance

Your new Sales VP should be ready to adopt 21st century sales (or Sales 2.0) – which means being comfortable managing sales metrics and employee performance using CRM. Excel just doesn’t cut it anymore.

  • How have you used metrics to develop, manage, and grow your sales team?

  • What do you think are the top 5 sales metrics for Sales VPs to measure? (For reference, here’s what our Sales VP thinks.)

  • What sales tools have you used? What works for you and what doesn’t?

  • What would you do if a sales rep underperformed?

Working well with other departments

Alignment between the Sales department and Marketing, Account Management, and Customer Success is very important to organizational success. It is really important that your Sales VP is able to mesh well with the other department leaders.

  • How should sales and marketing/account management/customer success work together?

  • Describe a time you were involved with a successful sales execution of a marketing campaign. How were you involved? What challenges did you face and how did you personally work to overcome them?

 

Take note of the questions your candidates ask you throughout the interview, too. They should have spent almost as much time preparing great questions for you as they did preparing great answers to your questions. Did they ask about the performance conditions? The culture? The job expectations? What happened to the last guy? The candidates that ask thought-provoking questions of the CEO and other interviewers are the ones that have the most potential and enthusiasm for your company.

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