The hiring process for any job can be quite a challenge. You post a job opportunity, hoping that you will receive only the best applications. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen, and you have to sift through hundreds for maybe one or two great people. But there are ways to make this process easier and give you more people who will bring the needed skills to help your company's success. When it comes to hiring a Vice President for a sales team, you meet even more challenges. This job requires a specific skill set, experience, and effort. We are here to give you the top five steps you need to take to hire a successful Sales VP.
What Makes a Great VP of Sales?
Before we get into the overall hiring process and the five necessary steps you need to take as a hiring manager, let us explain what exactly makes a great VP of Sales and what does not. A Vice President will hold a lot of responsibility, so it is important to make sure your sales hire is the right fit. However, there are certain qualities a Sales VP needs to have. First, let's look at the detrimental traits of a bad Sales VP.
- Poor communication- this job requires excellent communication skills. Anyone who lacks in this area would not be a good fit to run a sales organization.
- Indecisiveness- a VP of Sales needs to be a decision-maker. Not being able to make a decision or taking too long to make one puts the whole team and company in a challenging position. Good decision need to be made in a timely fashion.
- Passive-aggressive- good company culture is vital to business success; it's one thing that keeps morale up. Having a VP that doesn’t share the business’ values and culture will be detrimental. You need a VP who loves their job and can share that passion with their teammates.
Now that the bad is out of the way, let's look at some of the qualities you would want in your new leader!
- Leadership- this is one of the essential qualities a VP will need. This skill is necessary as they will be in charge of a team of people. This person must know the right decisions to make, not only for themselves but their entire team. A strong personality that isn't afraid to make tough calls and hard decisions.
- Motivation- not only will a great Sales VP motivate themselves, but they will also know how to motivate others. A unique and motivational strategy should be implemented to boost team morale and sales results.
- Emotional intelligence- This often-overlooked attribute can be why a VP of Sales is successful. Emotional intelligence is important, as it allows them to understand the human side of the job and its people. Having a high EQ helps win the hearts of the team. High EQ leaders have the following traits include: self-awareness, self-control, empathy, curiosity, socialization, and relationship management.
No one is perfect, and you should realize that when hiring a Sales VP. Although it would be outstanding to find a hire with all of the qualities we listed, don't just wait for that. You'd be surprised at what a person can learn and develop. However, we do recommend finding a hire that meets some of the criteria above. Now, it's time to get into the five essential steps to hiring the right Sales VP for your team.
Step 1: Deciding the Right Time to Hire a Sales VP
The right time to hire a Sales VP is dependent on your company. Are you a startup? Has your company been around for decades and is already established? Let's go over both options and make a note of the difference.
Startup Company: This type of company is in its initial stages of business. Before jumping into hiring, a startup needs to assess its current stage of growth. You might want to aim for $1-2M in annual recurring revenue (ARR) while already having a small team selling your product. Do not let numbers be the only reason for your decision making. If the revenue is there, it's time to look at your overall sales process. When doing this, think if you have enough tools, guidance, and a strategy to share with them to make them succeed as a VP. Your first hire should never be a VP of Sales. If you're a startup and need help, try bringing in a salesperson or sales manager. They're less expensive and will help bring in revenue. A VP has a lot more responsibility than just closing deals.
Older Company: This is a little different as your business has been around for a while. Whether it is successful or revenue is dropping, you might be looking for a new Sales VP. But, how do you know when it's the right time to hire? Depending on the circumstances if you previously had a VP, they may have left for a new job or they got fired. You need to take a long hard look at your past Sales VP and find what worked and what didn't. It is recommended to hire one ASAP if you are a company that's been around and is doing fine. Still, if you can take the time in this process, you can find a great Sales VP who won't let you down or be a mistake. Don’t rush the process; lay out who you're looking for, talk with your team on what makes someone a good fit for your specific service or product and then go from there.
As you can see, there's no right or wrong time to make that hire. However, suppose you follow our recommendations above. You may find more success in your new hire for your team and overall business.
Step 2: Create a Plan for the Sales VP Requirements and Sales Skills
So now that you know what makes a good VP and when you should hire one, it's time to implement a plan for what you want in your new Sales VP. Beyond the personality traits that we mentioned above, there is a required skill set needed.
- Education- it's ideal to find a hire with a degree in business or a degree that suits your company's needs, product, or service. However, education doesn't always necessarily have to be just a college degree. If you find the right hire who doesn't have a degree but has met all of your other requirements, don't be afraid to give them a chance.
- Marketing/Sales skills- a background in marketing and sales is a huge plus. The VP will hold a lot of responsibility, and if you have a sales team, make sure they know how to sell and market the product. That way, you do not waste your time on applicants who have no experience.
- Experience- most people don't graduate college and become the Vice President of a sales team right away. Therefore, it's essential to find someone with years of experience and showcase this to other team members. Experience and knowledge matter in any executive level position!
These are skills you want to look for when hiring your Sales VP. On top of the personality traits listed above like, leadership, motivation, and emotional intelligence, you're bound to find an excellent fit for your company.
Step 3: Creating a Sales VP Job Posting
We have reached step three, another crucial stage in the hiring process, creating the job posting. You want this post to get only the best candidates for the job. So how do you do that? First, you need to create a compelling job description. In this section, you will write out and list these specifics.
- The position your company is offering, make it unique and include specifics of the company or service
- Annual revenue
- Headquarters and location of position
- Any awards/achievements your company has made
- Company culture, be sure to include a day in the life in this job position
- Company values
- A Compensation plan helps to lay out the expectations and earn you more applicants
The company overview's primary goal is to intrigue potential candidates on why your company is a great place to work. It will not lay out the expectations you have for your applicants. That will be the next area, responsibilities. This section will show what the job is like daily and your expectations after hiring your VP of Sales. Let's look at examples of duties that need to be listed on a VP of Sales job description.
- Develop plans and implement strategies to achieve the company's sales goals
- Manage the sales team, operations, and resources
- Deliver profitable growth and manage the budgets
- Oversee staff compensation and incentive programs to motivate sales teams to hit target goals
- Create a culture of success and implement the company's values
- Provide detailed and accurate sales forecasting
- Monitor the customer, market, and competitor’s activity
There are many more responsibilities listed out, but those are just a few strong examples of what any Sales VP job posting should say. Then, you can make it unique and tailor it to your specific company too. Now, the next section on your job posting should list out what needed experience is required.
- Successful experience building a marketing strategy and corporate sales plan
- Success in closing X-figure deals
- Experience in managing customer relationships
- Experience utilizing a CRM
- Demonstrated ability in sales leadership
- Proven experience working with X company
- 10-15 years’ experience in sales or management
Again, these are just a few examples, but you could tailor this to your specific service/brand. It's essential to list out all of your experience expectations. That way, you don't have to go through too many random applications that could waste your time. We recommend posting this job straight on your company's website or LinkedIn.
There are also tons of other job forums, but the best applicants will come directly from the website or LinkedIn. An overall great online job-hunting website allows you and the applicant to communicate efficiently and check past employment and experiences. To recap, have extensive thought behind your job posting using your current teammates for input. Include the company overview, required responsibilities, and required expertise.
Step 4: Go Through Sales VP Job Applicants
Hopefully, after following our steps above, you've been left with the most ideal candidates for your job listing. Now it's time to screen your job applicants. There's no right or wrong way to do it, but we are to give you our recommendation on how to do it the easiest and quickest.
After collecting all of your resumes, go through each and create a system for cross-checking your required experience and background. If they do not meet your requirements, put them in a discard pile. If they don't add a cover letter, add them to the discard pile. If you like the resume for whatever reason but are unsure, create a maybe pile for your top candidates place them in another pile.
Once you have your three piles established, sit down with your team to talk over who you believe fits best. Find at least 3-5 potential candidates and call them for an interview. If you have too many candidates you like, do a phone screening for 10-15 minutes that can give you a feel for who's going to go onto the next step and who is not. You can also do an email interaction test to analyze writing and communication skills.
Again, we realize how time-consuming this part of the hiring process can be, but it is needed, and you shouldn't rush through. Take your time, really read the resumes, and find who suits your position best.
Step 5: Interview the Sales VP Candidates and Hire Your New Sales VP!
The long hunt for a great Sales VP has led you to interviews, another challenging stage of the overall job hiring process. This interview is an essential step in deciding who your new hire will be. From the moment the candidate walks in, watch their moves, confidence, how they carry themselves and ask tough questions! Since this will be for a sales position, have your candidate make a sales pitch too! We have also compiled a list of three example questions you'll want to ask, but you can tailor these to your specific needs:
- Tell me your sales management process, mainly what rigorous process you go through and how it has been successful.
- Give me at least two examples of important deals with key clients where your sales process helped attain those deals.
- Please tell us your quota performance over the last few years. Did you have any obstacles with these, and how did you overcome that?
It's best to have 10-15 specific questions for your candidates. Once the interview process is over, you can do callbacks for a second round. Also, bring in your team for input, they are going to let this new person be in charge of them, and you need team morale to be high if you want to be successful. If you've made your decision after round 1 of interviews, there you have it; you finished the hiring process! You have your new hire, congrats!
Keep Track of Your New Sales VP Hire!
It feels good, right? You have a great new hire. It's important to continue to keep track of your new hire. Watch how much workload they're handling and their overall responsibilities. Take feedback from the team on their progress. It's also important to implement weekly or bi-weekly check-ins to make sure they're comfortable and take on the responsibility their job holds. The process doesn't end just because you hired someone. You should have a 3-6 month probation listed in their contract. There have been times you think you have the best candidate in the world, and it doesn't turn out great. So, make sure to cover yourself!
Follow These Steps For Your Sales VP Hire
Alright! We have done it! You now have the five necessary steps you need to follow to hire a Sales VP for your team. This position is a tough one that takes a lot of time, responsibility, and good qualities to bring success and accomplishments. However, it is possible; there are many great, hardworking salespeople out there ready to take that next step and become a boss. We guarantee if you follow our steps and suggestions, it will lead you to the best outcome. So with that, happy hunting and good luck!