As one of the most influential executives in a company’s C-suite leadership team, the senior vice president (SVP) of sales plays a pivotal role in ensuring a company’s success. They develop and execute sales strategies, set sales goals, mentor junior sales teams, and encourage progress at every step.
The SVP at any company—whether it is a startup or an established business–organizes sales strategies, drives account growth, and fosters new customer acquisitions. They are responsible for the organization’s sales performance and aligning sales strategies to business goals. They are masterful negotiators who focus on corporate profitability and visibility.
“This is arguably the most important position in your company if you are looking to grow revenue,” said Carole Mahoney, founder of the sales development firm Unbound Growth. “The right person leads your organization down the path of record-breaking growth that investors and stockholders look for. The wrong person results in a culture of underperformance, excuses, and churn (both in salespeople and customers).”
SVPs don’t do this important work alone, though. As part of the executive team, sales SVPs report to a company’s president, chief operating officer, or chief executive officer. Sales SVPs also oversee sales teams to meet sales targets and satisfy corporate objectives.
Senior Vice President of Sales Competencies and Roles
Whether they work at an upstart or a Fortune 500 company, sales SVPs have the task of cultivating sales teams that will meet business goals. Experts say there are 5 competencies that sales SVPs must use to achieve their objectives:
Sales SVPs have the experience and knowledge to lead a sales force. They act as coaches and mentors, while understanding the market fluctuations and how they impact company goals. They hire and fire team members and work to help ensure employees are working to their potential.
2. Team building
SVPs must build strong interpersonal relationships with the junior staff to provide motivation and effective feedback, with a goal of implementing company objectives and managing workflow. They must work well with colleagues at all levels of the company and consistently contribute to a positive work environment.
3. External relationship building
In seeking new growth and opportunities for the company, sales SVPs must cultivate clients, both online and in person. This includes developing a social media presence that provides insight into the company’s accomplishments, goals, and objectives. Sales SVPs develop relationships with vendors and clients to cultivate existing business relationships and identify new ones.
4. Strategic Thinking
Effective SVPs of sales have the ability to focus on all of the issues facing the sales force and the company, instead of just focusing on the most urgent needs. They should be able to seek trends in the field and apply them to corporate success.
This broad view is important for strategic thinking. “In order to be strategic, you need a solid understanding of the industry context, trends, and business drivers. An intellectual appreciation of the importance of bringing in current data and seeking trends isn’t enough,” said Nina A. Bowman of the executive coaching firm Paravis Partners.
Sales SVPs are responsible for overall sales and business development strategies. Sales SVPs use performance metrics to track and improve employee sales goals. The metrics are also used to track sales by product and new vs. returning customers, among other things.
Overall, experts say SVPs of sales do not just motivate a sales force. Instead, they act as a driver for whole companies. With their focus on sales, they are concentrated on outpacing the competition and continually push for product improvements.
“The very best sales leaders are extremely demanding,” Scott Weiss, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said in Forbes. “If done right, this role gives the entire company a reason to work harder as the sales VP reveals and strongly advocates for the customer struggle.”
Salary Possibilities and Job Growth
High-level positions such as SVPs of sales have the potential to earn up to $175,000 nationally with the potential for commissions and bonuses, Payscale.com found. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects sales manager positions to increase about 5 percent in the coming decade. Additionally, the BLS expects top executive positions to grow about 6 percent in the same period.
“Generally, employment growth will be driven by the formation of new organizations and expansion of existing ones, which will require more managers and executives to direct these operations,” the BLS said.
Typically, employers seek sales SVPs who have at least 10 years of experience in sales and an advanced business degree, such as an online Executive Masters of Business Administration (EMBA). The online EMBA degree program provides an executive education in a convenient format, allowing professionals to pursue career and academic growth simultaneously.
About Washington State University’s Executive MBA Online Degree Program
WSU’s prestigious online EMBA program, through the school’s Carson College of Business, offers a flexible academic program with an emphasis on strategic leadership, global business, and innovation. The program allows students to apply their newly learned skills to their work environment immediately.
WSU’s online EMBA program has been lauded as a leader in business education from industry experts that include the AACSB and CEO Magazine. The program also ranks among U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Online MBA Programs” for 2017. For more information, contact WSU today.