A Sales VP is on the sharp end of the stick. There’s nowhere to hide. They often take the fall for all the shortcomings in the performance of a business including poor product (quality, value proposition, etc), incorrect pricing, bad marketing (lack of awareness, unqualified leads, etc) and rotten customer service. Many a Sales VP fails and is shown the door through no fault of their own. The good ones become increasingly (and annoyingly) direct about the problems in the rest of the business prior to their departure. Before you make your current sales leader walk the plank, you really should listen with an open mind.
It’s Not You, It’s Your Sales VP
But sometimes the problem actually does lie with the Sales VP. Here are 11 signs that it might be time to intervene:
Unreliable revenue forecasts with “sure things” slipping out of the quarter (and never seeming to close)
“Fuzzy” sales reporting (verbal updates that avoid numbers)
No regular funnel reviews
Unfocused opportunity reviews that talk too much about the customer rather than the next step to close the deal
Inability to articulate a standard sales process
Resistance to using a CRM to track opportunity status and unwillingness to keep data up to date
In the office rather than out with customers
Selling only into existing accounts
Over-reliance on discounting as the default sales strategy
Attrition within the sales team
Blocking investment in marketing (standing in the way of scale to maintain personal control)
If you happen to be a Sales VP reading this, you can avoid an untimely end, and probably increase your earnings, by checking your own behaviour and following some of the best practices this list implies.
Time to Intervene
Sales VPs are human. Sometimes they lose motivation or just lose the tune. When this happens, someone needs to lean in to put things right. This could be a C-level executive or a consultant specializing in sales effectiveness. By focusing on making progress in these areas, you can assess the incumbent’s competency to continue to lead. An unbiased, external set of eyes can introduce new sales practices and sort out whether the issue is with sales processes, sales leadership or issues outside the sales team’s control.
Whatever you decide, do it fast! Recruiting a quality sales leader always takes longer than you think. As the year marches on the good ones become increasingly tied down to achieving their current variable compensation payout. So don’t delay. Your sales funnel is getting weaker by the day.