This just in from the bad news/good news department: the shrinking tenure of corporate VP of Sales positions has created a new VP of Sales opportunity. What do I mean? First, let’s deal with the bad news (but don’t worry; we’ll get to the good news right away, too):
The Incredible Shrinking Job
In this article, Chris Orlob notes that “the VP of Sales’ average tenure has steadily declined the last seven years. Once standing at a healthy 26 months, it’s now just 19 months.” In other words, on average, when you take on a corporate role as Vice President of Sales, you’ll have just over a year and a half in the position. Orlob characterizes this as “a few quarters of getting up to speed, a few quarters of giving it ‘the old college try,’ and a few quarters planning your exit strategy.” He explains why this might be happening, but regardless of the reasons, it’s a trend that is unlikely to reverse. Chances are, in a year or two, the tenure will be 18 months, then 17 months, and so on.
So, if you’ve reached the “executive leadership” stage in your career, are you up for the prospect of being constantly recycled? You could retire, of course. Or you can stay in the game and get fired every 19 months. Or you can choose to be fired up and take control of your destiny while making a difference for smaller companies in need of sales leadership.
The choice is yours; but the choice many senior sales executives make is to become an outsourced VP of Sales. They are intentionally stepping away from the corporate revolving door and choosing instead to become a linchpin resource for small and medium-sized businesses. Here’s why (and how) richly experienced sales executives are going from outplaced to outsourced:
19 Months (or Less)
During the shrinking corporate sales leadership cycle, here’s what typically happens:
- You take on the role (replacing someone now gone), full of energy, ideas, and confidence you can turn around an underperforming sales operation. Senior management has high expectations too, but they want the turnaround to be quick and dramatic.
- You try to get your bearings, determine where the problems (and opportunities) lie, but you feel the clock ticking.
- A few months in – quicker than you would like because in such a large organization you need time to make better assessments — you begin establishing new systems and programs, as well as making personnel and territory changes.
- Along the way, of course, you’ll start monitoring progress and making adjustments as needed. (During this time, you’ll also be distracted by the day-to-day problems of the sales organization, including individual salespeople and a possibly dysfunctional culture that could span dozens or even hundreds of sales team members).
- You’ll make more staffing changes and deal with larger corporate organizational changes, too. And again, monitor, adjust, and correct.
- Months have passed now. Many months. In fact, more than a year has passed and you are just starting to get your footing and gain traction. But the corporate three-steps-forward-two-steps-back brand of progress is inherently slow. Too slow for upper management.
They want to make a change.
Bring someone new in.
So, you’re out.
And starting over.
Meanwhile, during that same time frame, if you are a senior sales executive who chose to become an Outsourced VP of Sales, you’ve probably had a somewhat different experience:
- You take on the assignment to help a smaller organization make necessary changes. Again, you are full of energy, ideas, and confidence you can turn around an underperforming sales operation. The business owner has high expectations, too, but sees you as the true expert and values your experience and wisdom.
- You get your bearings and determine where problems (and opportunities) lie. You also know the clock is ticking, but the weight of that reality is lighter because you are working not to keep your job, but to purposely hand the reins to someone else when appropriate. You are also working with multiple companies at different stages, so any pressure you feel is greatly dissipated.
- Based on your experience, expertise, and the struggles clients are experiencing as well as observations about the company (these are easier because it’s a much smaller enterprise), you begin establishing new systems and programs, and making personnel and territory changes, if necessary.
- You’ll monitor initial progress and make adjustments as needed.
- Months have passed now, but because the organization is smaller, it’s been easier to assess problems, implement solutions, and more quickly see positive results.
- With working systems in place and substantial growth now needing the attention of a full-time VP of Sales, it’s time to move on to your next challenge. You have worked NOT to hang on to a major corporate role, but to make a deep and lasting impact by implementing sustainable improvements.
How to Become an Outsourced VP of Sales
Assuming you are tired of the corporate hamster wheel that keeps spitting you out, you owe it to yourself to consider an entrepreneurial path. By becoming an outsourced VP of Sales, you can take on the assignments you want, make a difference, follow your passions, and preserve more time for family.
If you have a strong entrepreneurial bent, you can take your hard-earned knowledge and create your own scaled-down systems and programs that can benefit smaller companies. You can then work in fractional-time engagements, get smaller sales organizations on the right track, and then move on to the next challenge.
Of course, another way to take advantage of this opportunity is to leverage your insights with proven sales systems, programs and tools already developed. That’s what the licensed Advisors at Sales Xceleration do. They enhance our proven sales systems with their unique expertise and wisdom to rescue faltering SMB sales organizations. Frankly, the opportunities and benefits of becoming an outsourced VP of Sales with Sales Xceleration are too many to list here; but we welcome the opportunity to discover how your talents and goals align with our systems and tools.
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