95% of VPs of Sales Won’t Thrive at Your Startup

So we’ve talked a lot through the years on SaaStr on tips on how to rent an incredible VP of Sales, the distinction they’ll make, and the way the level-up comes rapidly.  And about when to realize it isn’t figuring out.  And importantly, we talked about how there are 48 Types of VP of Sales — and you must rent the best kind to actually have a shot at it figuring out:

But as I nonetheless see so many CEOs make a mis-hire of their first VP of Sales, I needed to take only a minute to flip this throughout and simplify it even additional:

95% of the VP of Sales candidates on the market which might be “Pretty Good” — Aren’t a Good Fit For Your Startup.  They may work out someplace else.  Just not at your startup.

And ultimately, that is the error so many CEOs make.  And VPs of Sales do, too.  It’s not that the candidate couldn’t be good someplace.  It’s that it’s a mismatch.  And the error so many founders make is that they need to consider a VP of Sales that’s good on the whole, good someplace, would work at their startup.  Even when the indicators are clear or at least blended that they gained’t.

So a fast guidelines right here:

  • Don’t rent a VP of Sales that hasn’t labored at a start-up at least at the ARR you’ll be at in 12 months.  If you do, they only gained’t know the playbook on your stage.  I don’t care how a lot the staff likes them.  They simply gained’t know what to do at your stage.
  • Don’t rent a VP of Sales that isn’t really snug promoting to your purchaser persona, particularly in B2D and fintech.  A ton of nice VPs of Sales have offered gross sales instruments and related merchandise.  They know them.  They know the client, the use case, and so on.  Especially in gross sales instruments, as a result of they dwell them every single day.  But can they promote a search API?  A banking answer?  A posh environmental compliance app? Often not.  I’d say roughly 50% of robust VPs of Sales that know the B2B playbook aren’t actually snug promoting B2D or fintech SaaS or in complicated verticals.  Be cautious.
  • Don’t rent a VP of Sales that has nobody good to carry with them.  It’s only a signal.  Job #1 for a VP of Sales is recruiting.  If nobody desires to come back with them, they aren’t able to be a VP.  Maybe a Director or IC, however not a VP.
  • Don’t rent a VP of Sales that may’t demo your product.  Trust me right here. Maybe later, a lot later, that may work.  But definitely not earlier than $20m-$30m ARR.  And quite a bit of VPs of Sales gained’t be capable of do that in case your product isn’t fairly near what they’re used to.  Hiring a bunch of SEs as a result of gross sales can’t demo the product isn’t the reply right here.  You may have these SEs, however your VP of Sales has to dwell and breathe your product.
  • Don’t rent a VP of Sales that has really performed all of it earlier than.  Why would they be part of you?  If you don’t perceive the motivation, don’t make the rent.
  • Don’t rent a VP of Sales that has by no means performed outbound, if that’s vital to your mannequin.  Many VPs of Sales from firms with robust manufacturers or PLG motions aren’t used to doing actual outbound.  You don’t have time for them to study in your nickel.  You simply don’t have the time.
  • Don’t rent a VP of Sales (or Marketing, the evaluation is analogous) that everybody likes — however you.  The relaxation of the staff (together with your buyers) doesn’t know in addition to you, when you’ve performed founder-led gross sales thus far.  They’ll gravitate to the nicest one, the one which talks the most effective sport, the one which looks like the calmer chief.  But in case your intestine isn’t certain — go.  You know higher.  You have to like the VPs you rent.

That’s 95% of them on the market that simply gained’t be a match at your startup.  Just do not forget that when your intestine tells you the candidate gained’t fairly work however all the pieces else kind of checks out.

Push on.

And a number of different basic associated posts:


Published on May 29, 2022


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