5 Signs That Your VP of Sales Needs To Go

For most companies, the VP of sales is a key leverage point for business growth. Both superior and deficient performance levels by the sales leader have a multiplier effect on revenues. In some cases, the fingerprints of the VP of sales are clearly all over the business results. In many more cases, it is difficult to isolate the VP’s impact especially when things are going wrong. The decision to remove and replace a VP of sales is a bold move that requires serious consideration.

Aside from missing quarterly bookings and revenue commitments, what are the signs that indicate a need for a “change in scenery” at the sales VP position?
 Here are five signs that you should replace your VP of sales:

1. No one believes the sales pipeline

When executed effectively, the sales pipeline should function like the rhythm section of a band in setting the pace for other sections. High probability sales should be factored into the near term planning of the operations and finance functions. When pipeline reviews and sales forecasts are seen as highly dubious, they are not used by other business functions often resulting in poor handling of the sales that do close. The credibility of the sales pipeline is the same as the credibility of the VP of sales.

2. Rampant infighting in the sales organization

A certain amount of tension in the sales organization is healthy when it is driven by performance accountability. Poor interpersonal relationships, especially between sales management and field sales personnel, create an unworkable situation. Acrimonious discussions, sales people too busy with customers to attend quarterly meetings, irregular or infrequent contacts between individuals or the general use of administrative staff as intermediaries between sales people and management are the most frequent symptoms. When these symptoms become pervasive in a sales organization, the blame falls on the VP of sales.

3. High unplanned turnover

Planned turnover in a sales force is actually a sign of effective sales leadership. Low performers are moved out to make way for more effective replacements or to invest more in high performers. Unplanned sales force turnover often comes from the ranks of effective performers. When high performers leave, they are not leaving their company; they are leaving their VP of sales. When a sales organization has a pattern of losing better performers and is being forced to retain its less effective sales people, the VP of sales is the culprit.

4. The inmates are running the asylum

One of the tenets of sales management is that sales activities, like prospecting, qualifying and closing, cause sales. Further, more sales activities cause more sales. If sales management is not routinely involved in the planning of individual sales activities and the review of their execution, accountability cannot be established. Individual sales people are managing their own sales activities. When this happens, the business does not have a repeatable sales process in place. This is the fault of the VP of sales.

5. They just need more time

The VP of sales has been in place for multiple sales cycles but they just need more time to execute their plan and produce targeted results. After multiple sales cycles, is sales performance at least better than it was before or is more time needed? Is there more time needed to turn poor sales performers into quota making machines? Is there more time needed for marketing to produce workable leads or product collateral needed to make sales targets? How much more time is there to give to the VP of sales?

Reaching the conclusion that a VP of sales must be replaced can be tricky business. It is often a decision taken without widespread support from investors or the board, who often advise that more time is needed. Use these five signs to challenge your thinking and ultimately cement a decision that the VP of sales must go.

About Anabaino Partners:
 Anabaino Partners fix sales organizations by rolling up their sleeves and working together with their clients. With more than 40 years of senior leadership experience, Anabaino Partners help clients achieve business goals and drive new growth.

Originally published at www.anabainopartners.com on October 19, 2017.

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