How to Hire a VP of Sales

By |2020-06-05T23:22:13+00:00June 4th, 2020|High Growth|

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Customers and revenue are the lifeblood of any company. The person in charge of these two critical areas is a VP of Sales.

When searching for a new VP of Sales, you’ll first want to consider when to hire. Knowing the right moment to hire a VP of sales can be beneficial to the overall search process.

Next, you need to determine what your ideal VP of Sales looks like. In other words, you’ll want to put together a comprehensive list of criteria to determine what to look for in a VP of Sales.

Another part of this process is learning how to hire a VP of sales. After all, you need a comprehensive hiring process in place when you find that perfect candidate.

There are many ways a senior leadership team can go about finding and interviewing a candidate who excels in certain sales environments.

So, we’ve put together some key information below for you to consider when planning your search. Keep reading to learn how to hire a VP of sales, when the right moment to hire is, and what to look for.

What to Consider When Hiring a VP of Sales

VP of Sales Qualities

As a leadership search firm that connects high growth organizations with exceptional leaders, Y Scouts understands the importance of aligning candidates with companies based on research, outreach, and a final interview selection.

If you’re unsure about what to look for in a VP of Sales, here are three qualities you can consider in each phase throughout the hiring process.

  1. Cultural fit

Cultural fit is one of the most important attributes to look for in a VP of Sales. Since your sales force is the front line representing your company, it’s important to hire a leader who aligns with your company’s values.

Also, a VP of Sales who fits in with your company will have an easier time adjusting to the position and will have an easier time forming relationships with your current employees.

To hire for cultural fit, start the Research & Planning phase of your recruitment process by conducting an organization survey among your senior leadership team to help define your culture.

By having this definition accessible to everyone involved in the hiring process, you’ll be able to benchmark a candidate’s purpose and values against your organizational culture—a very important first step.

  1. Industry understanding

If a candidate has a thorough understanding of your company’s industry, they will already have their wheels spinning about how to sell your product or services.

If the candidate also knows how the industry is evolving, they should have a general idea of what your company needs to do to stay on top of the changes.

All of this knowledge is extremely important to look for in a VP of Sales because it shows that the candidate is capable of steering your company in the right direction.

During the Outreach & Aligning process, evaluating functional expertise is a necessary step right after Purpose & Values.

  1. Drives results

A VP of Sales with excellent communication skills can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? As the leader of your sales function, a good VP of Sales lives by the numbers – how much revenue was driven, what’s in the pipeline, how much has the customer base grown?

When reaching out to candidates, part of the evaluation process must measure how they’ve driven results for their previous employers, and how they can drive results for your organization.

VP of Sales Hiring Timeline

Hiring a VP of Sales long after the product and sales process has been proven will put your organization in slow growth, a phase that a VP of Sales is directly responsible for.

So when should you hire a VP of Sales? Here are three signs that your business needs a sales leader.

  1. Your product is ready for the market

Many organizations are ready for the market before the market is ready for them.

An organization is ready for a VP of Sales when the product has been validated with the market, and revenue has hit at least $1M to prove out the concept and customer target.

  1. Recurring revenue is growing

Some organizations look to a VP of Sales to save the day when revenue starts to drop. That’s the opposite of when to hire a VP of Sales.

Instead, when there are signs that recurring revenue is growing—that’s the time to bring in a sales leader.

That’s when a VP of Sales can take the slow growth you’re experiencing and make things skyrocket with the hockey stick growth curve.

  1. Your sales process is repeatable

Your sales team of 2 to 4 people successfully sells your product and services with a process that they are beginning to repeat.

They’re no longer experimenting with the best way to sell a product.

Instead, they’ve developed a method that works, and now they just need a leader to help formalize and grow the process in a big way.

VP of Sales Compensation

It can be difficult to determine what to pay a VP of Sales, and since you’re dealing with a professional negotiator. Here are three factors your company needs to consider when negotiating a salary with a potential sales leader.

  1. Your company’s size

Studies have shown that smaller companies tend to pay a VP of Sales less than larger companies.

Your company’s size and the workload your sales leader will be responsible for can have a significant impact on salary and benefits.

  1. Education

Education is important at the leadership level.

A VP of Sales with an advanced degree has a large amount of specialized knowledge that will benefit you and your company.

The more specialized knowledge a candidate has, the more they can contribute as a member of your senior leadership team.

  1. Experience

While formal education is an important consideration when it comes to determining salary, it’s also important to examine a candidate’s professional history.

Outside of a formal degree, a person’s work experience shows you what they are capable of accomplishing as an employee.

Candidates with a stronger career offer more value to the position, making them more valuable employees.

Experience in fields outside of sales can be relevant, as well. If a candidate has experience in other areas of your industry, this bonus could be enough to warrant a pay raise.

Tips on How to Hire a VP of Sales

Here are four tips to use when deciding how to hire a VP of Sales for your organization.

  1. Use an executive search firm

Many senior leadership teams excel in specific areas—finance, management, engineering—but sales are often not one area of expertise.

If hiring a VP of Sales seems overwhelming, consider hiring an executive search firm specializing in high-growth leadership positions. Since recruiters at an executive search firm already have a defined hiring process, they can organize and execute your search. At the same time, your leadership team can focus on improving and expanding your business.

The staff at a leadership search firm has experience finding, interviewing, and hiring a Vice President of Sales.

An executive search firm may know some potential candidates for the position right off the bat, and can certainly vet out the candidates that aren’t a good fit.

The expertise offered at an executive search firm can be an objective and effective way to find the right person to head up your sales function.

  1. The network of your leadership team

Your senior leadership team has professional connections that may be a good fit for your VP of Sales role. Talk to them. Mention your organization is searching for someone to head up your sales function.

Not only may someone in your network be the perfect candidate, but they also may know someone interested.

This connection is crucial because the candidate gets a personal endorsement from someone you trust. Plus, your company gets an endorsement from someone the candidate trusts.

If in-person networking doesn’t lead to any results, try using social networks, such as LinkedIn, to find senior vice presidents.

  1. Don’t do it alone

Hiring a VP of Sales is a major decision. There’s the need to ensure future sales success and retain your customer base by selecting the right candidate.

If you’re the person responsible for making this decision, the pressure intensifies. To make hiring a VP of Sales a little less intimidating, involve other leaders in your company.

Specifically, seek out the perspective of the people who will be directly impacted by this new hire.

Other executives and trusted colleagues can be a big help when you’re learning how to hire a VP of Sales.

If your company currently employs sales reps, make sure they play a major role in this process. After all, you’re deciding who will be their future boss.

  1. Plan ahead

If executed improperly, an addition to your senior leadership team and sales process can be jarring.

Make a plan for your company to help your new VP of sales adjust to the position.

Work with your current sales team to decide what course of action will be best for your company.

For example: should your new VP of Sales jump into the position right away with their own sales process? Or should a vice president of sales step into an existing sales process and focus more on the execution?

It’s hard to plan when there is a lack of expertise in the room. But, by having a plan before hiring a VP of Sales, you can refine your search process. You can also give the candidate an idea of what to expect if they were to be hired.


Y Scouts is an executive search firm that helps nonprofits and social enterprises find exceptional leaders.

Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. To be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.