At one point in my professional career, I worked under the VP of Sales who famously told the sales organization: “This is the most important quarter of our lives.” It was famous because he said it every quarter … and he was right!
The leader of any sales department or organization is under immense pressure. That comes with a feeling that every quarter could be their last quarter.
These high-level sales executives face intense pressure from the C-suite, sometimes boards or directors, and investors to drive company revenue and achieve aggressive sales goals, while also leading and motivating the sales team.
According to a research report by Hubspot, the average VP of Sales lasts only 19 months in the role. Hubspot added: “No other member of the executive suite fails as often as the sales leader.”
Put another way, this position is completely results-oriented. You cannot hide from or spin the numbers, at least not for long. Just like a football coach, it’s about wins and losses. You either hit the sales goals or you did not. And, if you miss the mark often enough, upper management will move on to the next VP of Sales.
So, how can marketing leaders support their Sales counterparts to establish continuity and drive revenue for the company? Here are three important things to remember about the VP of Sales position and how you can make a significant impact helping them get more “wins.”
1. The VP of Sales Faces High Level of Accountability
Consider the daily, weekly, and quarterly environment of the Sales leader in your organization. They are constantly under pressure and face a high level of accountability.
When a company fails to hit their metrics or deliver profit, upper management turns to the sales department, not the CFO, to make changes. It’s much easier to make the VP of Sales the fall guy because the numbers tie directly to sales performance.
With that knowledge, the VP of Sales always has a thought in the back of their mind that this could be their last quarter. And, they have to think about it every day they come to work (and even the days they don’t).
This pressure-packed work environment should give marketing leaders an idea of how they can help sales leaders drive revenue for the company.
Marketing needs to create demand for the solution your company is selling. This will put some wind in the sails of the sales team to capitalize on that demand to close more deals.
When marketing puts in the work to generate more interest, capture more data in the CRM, and qualify more prospects, it makes a tremendous difference for Sales.
This is not about doing all the work so that the sales team can sit back and wait for things to fall into their laps. Rather, it’s about setting up the entire organization for success by working together with the sales leader in your organization and understanding their pressure-packed environment.
Marketing leaders also need to understand the unique role that the VP of Sales has in your organization.
2. VP of Sales Must Inspire and Motivate
The sales leader is not only held accountable for reaching metrics but also for how well he or she inspires the team to give their best effort.
This is a unique aspect of the job that also links to that “head coach” mentality in football. The leader of the team must motivate the players -- or salespeople -- to perform at their best to achieve a certain goal.
If the sales team continues to fall short, the responsibility ultimately falls on the sales leader. This places tremendous pressure on the sales leader in your organization to ensure everyone is motivated and aligned with the common goal for the team. This is easier said than done.
Going back to my example at the beginning of this article, that’s where you see the VP of Sales try to inspire the team by declaring “this is the most important quarter of our lives!” But, it’s tough to keep the sales team motivated if there is a sense of desperation quarter after quarter. After a while, the team becomes numb to that motivational technique.
That’s where marketing leaders can step in with quality information and qualified leads that the sales team can act upon. A clean hand-off will relieve the sales leader in your organization of a tremendous amount of stress so they can focus on motivating their team to close deals, benefiting the overall organization.
Then, there are external issues that the VP of Sales must address.
3. Sales Must Deliver on Expectations
The VP of Sales is held accountable by upper management and must motivate the sales team. This individual must also reach outside of the company to address external customer situations.
The sales leader is not only responsible for acquiring new customers but also managing existing relationships. Some of these customer relationships are very difficult, and there is pressure to manage and maintain these relationships to continue generating revenue.
One of the biggest complications for the sales leader is performance of the product sold to a customer. Once sold, the product must do everything that was promised by the company.
The sales team did not manufacture or produce the product, nor did they market the product. But, they did personally sell the product. So, the responsibility of customer satisfaction and filling in gaps of expectation versus delivery ultimately falls on the VP of Sales and their team.
Marketing leaders can help in this area by researching whether your company’s solution was manufactured and produced to the highest standard before marketing the solution. That way, the sales team is not left holding the bag on a poor product as the last line of defense representing your company.
Overall: Look Beyond the Fancy Office to Support VP of Sales
The VP of Sales makes a good amount of money, is sitting in a nice office, and might even drive a nice car … okay, a really nice car. But, the pressure on this individual is at the level of a top-ranking executive.
It’s a tough job that requires travel, time away from family, and other responsibilities that managers at their level are usually not burdened by. So, marketing leaders need to help out this person so they can perform at the best of their ability to benefit the overall company.
When the VP of Sales is successful, then everyone in the organization is successful. That person driving the fancy car is essentially the lifeblood of your organization. But, beneath the fancy suit is someone sweating through the expectations of having to deliver another stellar quarter or face a swift exit from the company.
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