When to Hire Your VP of Sales

You’ve done what some thought impossible: You launched a new offering in the MarTech solutions universe. Not only that, but your company is beginning to lift off the ground — fantastic! You’ve closed your first few deals with your beta companies by furiously scribbling on whiteboards and wearing a leaning tower of hats, but the time has arrived to pass the baton for leading sales to another stakeholder.

You may initially disagree, and I can understand that. Handing off the reins to someone else, after you’ve poured your heart and soul into these initial deals, is no small ask. But if you are serious about making your brand known and recognized in the e-commerce industry, you’ll need a Rockstar sales professional who can enhance and polish the process, perfect your go-to-market message, and build a client development framework that will scale to your needs.

In short, you need to hire a Vice President of Sales. I have three crucial elements that you need to find in your next hire if you want to take your business to new heights.

3 Crucial Components to Define Your VP of Sales

1. Build Your Sales Process.

This one is the no-brainer. In fact, this is often the only step founders focus upon. Is it important? Absolutely. But remember, it’s just the first step. You can’t expect to buy Salesforce or HubSpot with a canned process. You need be unique to capture market share. You first VP must be able to do three things: teach, manage, and scale.

If you want your first VP of sales to close deals left and right, they need to be able to teach your differentiators and success strategies to the rest of the company. Enterprise sales executives know how to orchestrate their team’s activities to achieve objectives. Your first VP must capture and articulate everything you required to acquire new business; how to translate initial calls or prospect emails into calls, meeting, presentations, demos and ultimately INK! The future of sales is in your new VP’s hands, and the framework he or she provides from the start will make all the difference.

Second, your first VP will manage the cadence of the sales process. Day in and day out, their team will document interactions to help you better understand your clients, down to minute details. They will distill your discovery process to ensure the correct questions are asked in order to map your solutions to the client’s addressable problems. Your first VP must know what should be retained and discarded from your sales motions. Then, they will guide the team through the cadence of activities to hit your forecasts. Moreover, what metrics need further development? Your first VP must also have asked questions of themselves around their added value to the team; are they following through on what they promised and set clear expectations, are they effective coaches and mentors, are they recognizing the progress of their team? In this era of the “Great Resignation”, that is a key point your VP must knock out of the park to retain great sales teams.

Third, your VP must be able to scale. You need to hire a VP who has a track record of creating efficiencies and increasing margins, reducing sales cycles, growing deal volume, accelerating pipelines, and expanding win percentages. They must know how to streamline sales processes and reporting to generate accurate forecasts, boost productivity for new hires, and strengthen retention rates for team members. With this foundation, they could become your CRO when it’s time to develop a segmented sales organization defined by the verticals or size of clients or channels.

2. Engage with External Partners

No single solution provides all the modules needed to complete a marketing or Commerce stack. That’s why platform (commerce or CRM) providers are a key piece of the game from day one. They own the transaction, the customer or serve as the “record of truth.” These providers are the linchpin to customer satisfaction for your client merchants and marketers. Your VP should be attuned to how your solution delights their customers to align with the platforms.

Target consumers won’t see all the details transpiring on the backend. However, when partner solutions are well aligned both solutions will surprise and delight your customer base. Your VP must be asking: Who should be our partners? What solution sets will be most compatible from an offering perspective? Which solutions provide the best end-user experience? How can we enhance their go-to-market message and they ours? Will the partner help us differentiate in the market? What makes for a profitable and successful partner? What is our optimal “win-win” scenario and how to we measure and execute towards that jointly?

Systems Integrators — Your VP will have experience bringing aboard your professional service force multipliers. They will know who has the bench strength, solutions experience, and vertical expertise to deliver your solutions on time and within budget. They will know how to create a profitable program to entice the integrator to pull their team away from an existing business line to devote to yours. Your VP should also know you what the SI or GSI will need from the marketing, training, and development perspectives.

Independent Software Vendor Partners — Your first VP should have developed successful co-selling, white-label, or OEM partnerships with the firms that use or host your data, provide ancillary services, or provide the Commerce, Payment, Content, Experience, CRM, Supply Chain Solution etc., for your client base. Your first VP must be able to leverage those connections.

Global Consulting Partners — If your first VP has the right requisite experience, it’s a safe assumption that they are a known entity in the digital commerce or MarTech space. Any relationships they might have with GSI partners such Deloitte, CapGemini, etc., can elevate your ability to reach target buyers and influence the analyst community. They will be a key source of client intel on re-platforming, product releases, new market openings, and more as you enter the next phase in your growth mode.

Now, I can’t promise your business will grow to be as prominent as Salesforce or HubSpot (if I could guarantee that kind of ROI, I would be happily retired!), but if your VP finds the right partners to deliver services to your target audience, your company will be well on its way to success. I have just one more key factor for your first VP of sales.

3. Perfect Your Go-to-Market.

Your first few client victories are one-offs with little replicable content as far as process or message. Your first VP will need to have distilled initial transactions for buying signals to develop a coherent message around your value that is concise and easily understood. Here is where their years of selling really come into the into play; they have far more intuition and experience around what messages resonate buyers, and how to modify or tune that message to be increasingly more effective in the market. There is simply no substitute for this skill set. Furthermore, they will have written out comprehensive plans for what buyers, segments, and verticals to approach, in what order, and with what results to validate the plan.

Once your initial clients adopt your product or service, and you have your go-to-market message, marketing can go to town spreading the good news. At that point, your VP must have the sales team in place, ready to follow up on those leads, and validate your message. Your first VP will have direct experience partnering with a marketer to generating and modifying those initial campaigns, and in assessing their efficacy.

You may be reading these three points, thinking: “I could handle those areas myself.” However, if you attempt to be the key leader of sales of your business, it will be the only job you’ll have time for and that will make it almost impossible to replicate and grow. That is why hiring a VP of sales role is non-negotiable.

If you, as the founder, are constantly trying to contribute to production, it will divert your focus from development, operations, and strategy. Your first VP of Sales will possess a wealth of experience and expertise apart from your own — and that’s a good thing. It is time to refresh yourself on the worthwhile art of delegation. The Harvard Business Review addresses the heart of this issue:

Single-mindedness is an important attribute in a visionary who wants to unleash a revolutionary product or service on the world. Yet this quality can harden into tunnel vision if the leader cannot become more expansive as the company grows.

It’s a shift in mindset. Easier said than done, of course, because this requires a pivot to let go of some of your responsibility. Now you must learn how to excel as a manager. Not only is this a change in perspective, but a change in values. Instead of focusing on closing the next deal, you can invest and evaluate the success of your team. Once you shift into that gear, the sky is truly the limit.

Looking to identify the right hire for your e-commerce business? The Rosenstein Group has over two decades of industry experience and a vast network. Connect with our team today.

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eCommerce and Martech Executive Search

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Darrell Rosenstein

Darrell Rosenstein

eCommerce and Martech Executive Search

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