As a Sales VP, you always have a target on your back.
If you consistently hit your number, you’re a superstar. If you don’t, you could be fired. It’s that simple.
Much like an NFL head coach, Sales VPs are judged on results. If the goal is to win the Super Bowl, its simple — either you achieve the goal or you don’t. Sales goals are the same, and either you hit or you miss.
But that is not the full story. There is a lot of work that goes into winning a championship. Did you draft the right players? Is their conditioning right? Do you have the right game plan? Does your team play with confidence? Are they motivated? Are they prepared?
In sales, it’s not too dissimilar. There is a lot of work that goes into achieving the result. Did you hire the right people? Did you bring in the right managers? Did you onboard them well? Are you continually working with them to improve their skills? Do they have they have the right tools? Did you inspire them to work hard? Did you create an environment for success?
As a Sales VP, I know all too well how tough this job can be. Here are some suggestions as to how you can stay on top of your responsibilities and consistently hit your number. We all know that if you fail to do this, you may be looking for a new job.
Focus on Hiring
Too many Sales VPs forget that you are only as good as the people that surround you. Who you hire today is the key to your future success. At InsightSquared, I’m trying to build the sales team fast. We will be going from around 30 to more than 80 reps in less than a year. We need to build a well-oiled machine to deliver on our aggressive sales goals. The team consists of “opportunity generators” who we call Business Development Rep’s and “opportunity owners” who we call Account Executives.
Attracting and retaining talent is vitally important. With our growth plans, I’m almost always focused on hiring. I have to recruit talented sales reps as well as talented managers, and then onboard and enable everyone to succeed. While hiring may seem like a distraction from the day-to-day operations of trying to hit the number, it’s crucial to long-term success. If you’re not putting enough effort into building and retaining the right team today, you could be on the chopping block next quarter.
As the VP, I have to continually balance today’s activities with tomorrow’s results. I believe in pushing my team to be the best version of themselves and setting high standards for them. A big part of sales leadership is creating the right environment. Part of my job is to be a cheerleader, so people are inspired and motivated to push themselves. We manage and measure daily and weekly activities to ensure they are utilizing their time wisely, but this isn’t the only part of the equation. The three pillars to success are Activities, Skill and Knowledge, and it is our job as sales leaders to ensure our team is optimized in all three areas. Successful Sales VPs not only motivate their sales teams to work hard, but also enable them to succeed.
To get results, I try to provide my reps with best-in-class training, sales enablement, sales tools, and more. This means I have to:
- Build out a training program to ramp new reps quickly
- Create a powerful sales playbook
- Offer strategic and proactive sales coaching
Balancing today’s activities and goals with the strategic growth of the business is a juggling act. It requires you to switch roles from mentor, to manager and leader, to long-term strategic planner all in a day’s work. Anyone that’s not comfortable with multitasking will struggle in the role of Sales VP.
Measure the Metrics
You cannot improve what you cannot measure. So while you’re recruiting, training and motivating your reps, you also have to keep a close eye on the key metrics. With every passing day, you should track a variety of metrics to determine whether your team is on track to hit their goals. You want to build as much predictability as you can into your business.
You need to understand both the day-to-day performance metrics like activity levels and pipeline generation, as well as longer-term performance metrics. For example:
- What are the conversion ratios across your team, and are they trending up or down?
- Is the sales cycle getting longer or shorter?
- Is your Average Deal Size increasing or decreasing?
Good metric management is key to predicting your future success or to provide early warning signs when things are going awry. You want to know where you need to make adjustments to your sales process, sales hiring, and sales coaching in order to hit your number this quarter.
Great Sales VP’s are a combination of recruiters, cheerleaders, coaches and data analysts. Being a Sales VP isn’t easy, and you have to be able to thrive under the day-to-day pressure of the number with one eye on today and the other on tomorrow. Keeping close to your metrics you will not only help you keep your job — you will thrive in it.