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  1. Sales VP and the Brazilian market
  2. Good professionals are already employed
  3. Equity makes a difference, but a VP of Sales cares about money
  4. How to convince someone to leave their comfort zone
  5. Time is the key to your success
  6. When to hire?
  7. Recommended materials

Sales VP and the Brazilian market

We all know how difficult it is to find qualified labor in Brazil. If you are in São Paulo, you certainly suffer even more in this search, but you also suffer less from a market inflated by competition for talent, driven mainly by large companies that are concentrated in the region of SP.

Even in concentrated markets such as Silicon Valley, it is not easy to find professionals in the commercial area prepared to take on challenges as big as managing a sales area, the Vice President or VP of Sales. This challenge is very different from searching for qualified sellers only.

Today’s post is largely based on the ideas proposed by Jason Lemkin in one of his articles, Why It May Take You 12-18 Months to Hire a Great VP, Sales — Period. And What To Do About It.

As Lemkin himself points out, it is not easy to find a good VP of Sales for your business and, in addition to the difficulty in finding qualified labor, we can list some other problems:

  • Good professionals are already employed;
  • A VP of Sales does care about more than Equity ;
  • How to convince someone to leave their comfort zone.

Let’s analyze each case a little more?

Good professionals are already employed

This is common sense, after all, the probability of finding a good sales manager, with the growing demand in our market, is almost negligible. While talent that excels in small and medium-sized companies are often recruited by large companies, some go the other way. Emerging talents in large companies take advantage of the training they offer and field experience to pioneer professional growth “shortcuts” in medium and small businesses alike.

However, placing all the responsibility on a professional with no management experience is risky. You will not be able to judge by the candidate’s background, as he only has practical experience of the process, not in strategic areas such as hiring, training and coaching the sales team.

Therefore, all good professionals with experience in strategic positions would be employed, correct? This brings us to the second point!

Equity makes a difference, but a VP of Sales cares about money

Any sales professional can confirm this for you, the CEO or the executive manager. As tempting as offering equity from a fast-growing startup is, money will be a clear differentiator in the recruited candidate’s decision.

It is no use offering participation in a company, as trust has not yet been established. Selling the dream is not always enough here. You need, as Lemkin himself says, to keep in touch for some time because your candidate needs to understand that there is trust there, solidity in the business is a differential so that your new VP understands that he will not lose money in the short term and his personal income stream will not be affected.

With this point in mind, we come to the third and final hurdle:

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How to convince someone to leave their comfort zone

One of the biggest challenges, taking into account what was raised above, is precisely to guarantee your candidate that he must leave his current post. If he is really good and has made the right decision (since he should receive good proposals recurrently), he will be in nice company, hitting goals and earning money. His team is already formed and, at the most, he only needs to hire when opening new vacancies or filling the turnover (something he will do in your company as well), in addition to all that, he already knows the product and the fastest ways to sell that solution. Probably, if you are in another startup, you also have an equity plan, which requires a few years of relationship with the company to receive the benefit.

Would you, in that person’s place, risk going into the market for a new company? What is the argument that could convince you to leave a “sure money” to venture into a new venture?

Time is the key to your success

Contrary to what is common in the Brazilian market, where it is common to see companies hiring and filling vacancies in a hurry, there is a very common speech in Silicon Valley: “Hire slow, fire fast”, which translated means: Hire slowly, fire quickly.

This motto is even more important when hiring a VP of Sales. A VP job is not the kind of advertisement you place in the newspaper or on Catho Online. Your team needs someone you trust and with the right profile, which is why large companies have exclusive headhunters for high-ranking positions when they don’t have someone within the company who can fill the needs.

In the article I referred to, Jason Lemkin states that it took him 20 months, almost two full years, to hire his VP of Sales. Why so long?

Think about how much it will take until you meet the person with the right profile, necessary experience and skills aligned to your needs…

Now, when you meet this professional, what’s the chance he doesn’t fit the description below?

  • Employee;
  • Earning a lot of money;
  • With likely participation in the business in which he works.

That’s why you need to take the time to make sure you’re right in your choice and also demonstrate to the other side that there’s solidity in what you’re developing.

Lemkin’s own tip is that you start looking for a VP of Sales as soon as you reach R$1M in ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue). If you’re going to take 12 months or more to get a good VP closed, it’s better not to leave it to the last minute and get tight. Starting at this point, you’re likely to find your VP when you’re close to 4 or 8 million in annual sales, which already guarantees a larger base and makes your company even more attractive for a new sales manager.

After all, who wouldn’t be interested in structuring the sales of a fast-growing company with enormous potential and probably a lot of money ahead? 😉

When to hire?

Ideally, you should start your research at least a year earlier than necessary, but this can vary as your business grows.

On average, startups with revenues close to R$6M in ARR are already prepared and have clear needs for the work of a Sales VP.

If you have a +100% growth in the first few years, it is recommended to look for potential names and establish a relationship with them already with R$1M in ARR, precisely because you will have time to sell your company and the vacancy for the professional who is seeking out.

However, you need to be careful. Companies with a very low average ticket or exclusively self-service sales can benefit much more from a good VP of Product than a VP of Sales 🙂

Do you have any questions? If you still don’t know if it’s the right time to hire a Sales VP or need help defining the profile you need, you can send me an email and we’ll talk more about it:

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