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The primary responsibility of a vice president of sales to is to lead and direct a sales team or department to meet or exceed sales revenue, sales profitability and budgetary objectives. The role involves strategic planning, managing people, selling, leveraging technology and improving processes. A vice president of sales may be responsible for a region, country or global sales organization. The role is usually compensated with a salary plus a variable commission tied to the attainment of business goals. A vice president of sales is a key member of the senior management team.
Strategy and Measurements
The VP of sales creates and executes the sales department go-to-market and operational strategies to achieve business objectives. He participates with other senior managers in developing strategy for the entire company. He determines and monitors the department's key performance indicators (KPIs) such as revenue vs. plan, contact rate, quote closure rate and gross profit percentage. He anticipates and reacts quickly to trends and changes in performance. He develops and manages sales department budgets.
The VP of sales directs and manages sales department employees. She hires, supervises, develops and mentors sales directors. She indirectly supervises sales managers and sales representatives. She develops and implements employee performance management programs. She participates in corporate succession planning activities, writes and delivers employee reviews, keeps close tabs on employee morale and creates a positive working environment.
The VP of sales assists with complex sales negotiations, attends sales presentations and helps close sales deals. He directly manages very large, high-profile customer accounts, as appropriate. He helps develop sales proposals and responses to request for proposals (RFPs). He develops and oversees a sales training program for new and existing employees. The VP of sales ensures sales employees are equipped with the product, system and selling-skills training that they require to be successful. He partners with marketing to develop lead generation and revenue generation programs, and to create high performing sales collateral.
Technology and Continuous Improvement
The VP of sales continually improves the effectiveness of the sales organization and enhances productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction. He oversees and drives adoption of sales technology including customer relationship management (CRM) and a sales intranet. He partners with information technology leaders to identify and implement new technology and improve existing technology based on business needs. He develops, documents and enforces sales policies, standard operating procedures and best practices. He also streamlines sales processes.
Experience, Education and Skills
VP of sales candidates must have seven to 10 years of experience in a sales leadership role, at least four years of experience in a selling role and at least two years of experience working with sales technology and CRM. It is helpful for VP sales candidates to have at least two years of experience in a senior leadership role, working with C-level executives. A bachelor’s degree with a business concentration is required. An MBA is preferred. The vice president must demonstrate outstanding leadership, communication and interpersonal skills. She must possess expertise in selling strategies and methodologies, strategic planning and execution, and employee motivation techniques.
The compensation for a vice president of sales varies based on the industry, the number of employees managed and the breadth and complexity of responsibilities. According to GlassDoor.com and Salary.com, it is common to see base salaries in the $125,000 to $175,000 range, with total compensation including commission in the $175,000 to $225,000 range. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales leadership roles should grow by 13 percent through 2018.
Based in Boston, Marci Reynolds has been writing online, business-related articles since 2000. Her areas of expertise include operations, call centers, sales, customer service and process improvement. Reynolds has her Master of Business Administration from Bentley University, a Bachelor of Science in business from Northeastern University and a Six Sigma Greenbelt.