Startups that have succeeded in Product-Market-Fit (PMF) are immediately facing the next challenge: Go-To-Market Fit (GTMF) growing from ~1M ARR to over 5M ARR.
Here's what most of the Founders that Daniel Trifonov, Jan Hepke, Susann Herbrich and I work with are doing: They hire their first VP Sales and let him / her immediately optimize the existing sales processes and structures.
❌ In my opinion, this is WRONG! Why?
The expectations on a new VP Sales are high. I almost always see Founders and Investors demanding fast, immediate improvements in results when hiring a VP, while the general expectation is that the new VP will boost sales performance tremendously.
If the VP focuses on optimizing structures and processes right from the start, …
1️… the new VP will only be able to implement structures and processes based on their experience and cannot combine it with learnings of the company.
2… while focusing on restructuring revenue numbers tend to fall, not rise right away, as optimizations need time to take effect.
3… the new VP and the full focus on restructuring causes general unrest to the sales team, and it will be more difficult to implement it for the VP as no trust could be built first.
The results of this are very similar in many companies: VP & the company are separating ways within the first 6 months.
1️ The focus of the first six months should be getting more business out of existing leads / opportunities. Specifically, increasing conversion rates and average basket size, by leading, developing, and training sales people and enabling them to sell more effectively.
2️ While doing so, the new VP Sales does not only make many learnings about the company, he / she has time to get to know and build up trust with the team.
3️ The increased performance & revenue will align the board, the Founders and the team behind the VP and will satisfy all. Furthermore, these six months will enable the VP to get a good understanding of what needs to be optimized, the VP will get the full buy-in of all stakeholders and especially the team to adapt the changes and the new VP will restructure based on these learnings combined the years of experience.
With this focus you will bring the collaboration to success and as mentioned before this focus needs to be set by the Founders and should not be decided by the new VP Sales as they always tend to put focus on optimization first.
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