Two months into 2014, and it’s not looking good. Your sales team missed its number in January, is on pace to fall short in February, and, barring a miracle, will not come close to sniffing the quarterly quota. As a Sales VP, facing down the barrel of a demanding CEO, what should your response be?

For starters, you have to fall on your sword.

Sure, your reps might be underperforming. Of course, external market factors that were unaccounted for might have intervened, causing a sales shortfall.

It doesn’t matter.

The best Sales VPs always acknowledge that when the sales team misses its number, it is nobody’s fault but their own. Taking responsibility and admitting the problem is the first step on the path to salvation. After that, the Sales VP can then work with his sales manager and give the team to rectify these problems and give the team a better chance to hit their number.

Here are some reasons why sales is missing their number, why it’s the Sales VP’s fault, and what they can do about it:

Insufficient Lead Generation

Let’s face it: you can’t sell if your team doesn’t have leads to work and sell to. As a Sales VP, it is your responsibility to:

  • Ensure that both sales and marketing has a crystal clear idea of what your product’s Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is.

  • Work more closely with marketing. You want to make sure that the process of generating leads, and subsequently, handing those leads off to the sales team, is a smooth and efficient one. Most importantly, you need to set up a service-level agreement that not only works, but is fully understood by both teams.

  • Recognize that an outbound prospecting team can help out tremendously with lead generation efforts. Do you have the right number of prospecting reps? Are you managing them correctly? Check out our eBook on Building a Successful Outbound Prospecting Team to find out!

A Faulty Sales Process

A repeatable, scalable sales process is essential for your sales team to achieve success. You want to build in the right talk tracks, deliver the best demos and coach your reps consistently. As a Sales VP, it is your responsibility to:

    • Build in a talk track that focuses on extracting pain points and aligning the seller’s process to the buyer’s journey. Prospects don’t want to hear about your features; they want to discover solutions to their problems.

Thinking like a buyer vs. thinking like a seller

Buyer’s Process

Seller’s Process

Initial Interest




Transfer of Ownership






Ignoring the sales metrics

Ignoring the relevant sales metrics is a death knell for Sales VPs. As a Sales VP, it is your responsibility to use sales metrics to discover actionable insights about your sales team, such as:

  • Are your reps putting forth a good effort, in terms of activities? What is their efficiency on these activities, in terms of conversion rates between stages?

Not sure if you’re looking at the right sales metrics? Our eBook might help you narrow it down.

An unrealistic number

Finally, maybe your team is failing to hit the number…because your quota has been unrealistically set from the get-go?

We’ll be delving deeper into this in a forthcoming blog post, but you have to work with your CEO and board members to establish goals that are achievable in the first place. Whether you adopt a top-down or bottom-up quota setting strategy, you need to ensure that you have the right resources, the right sales force and the sheer possibility of hitting that goal.


Falling on your sword as a Sales VP sets a good example for the reps that you are managing and the CEO that you are reporting to. Once you have accepted the blame, it’s on you to figure out why you’re missing your number and what to do about it.

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