The Revenue Compass Blog

As an executive leader of a small or medium-sized business, the departure of your VP of Sales can be a challenging setback. The average tenure of a VP of Sales is a mere 19 months, often leaving leaders scrambling to fill this critical role. This turnover not only disrupts the sales team but also places additional responsibilities on the executive leader, who may lack the time, competence, or confidence to effectively manage sales operations.

However, in the face of adversity, it's crucial to view this situation as an opportunity for improvement rather than simply finding a replacement.

Let's explore four key recommendations to navigate this challenge effectively and transform it into an opportunity for growth.

1: Refine Your Sales Strategy (using your New Wins & Conversion Ratios)

Chances are, your business development team is casting too wide of a net, investing (i.e. wasting) precious time and resources with misaligned prospects, and winning mediocre clients (but not the highly sought-after “Blue Chip” clients).

Here are some key data points that will help you:

Before you hire (or promote) your next Sales Leader, take this opportunity to refine your “Blue Chip” client profile (demographics, psychographics & trigger events) and ensure alignment with your prospecting and outreach efforts.

2: Define & streamline your Sales Process (using your Sales Funnel / CRM)

Chances are, your business development team is operating with an inconsistent process. If you do not have a clearly defined process, it is challenging for your salespeople to “take and maintain control” of the sale, handing the reins to your prospect.

Evaluate your process through your sales funnel in your CRM. The stage names of your CRM should match exactly to your sales process. Each prospect should be in the right stage and you should have a “closed loop” (day & time in calendar) with each prospect.

Before you hire (or promote) your next Sales Leader, take the time to define “what good looks like” at each stage of your sales process and verify that your business development team is following your “unique & proven process” through weekly pipeline management meetings and regular observations.

3: Specialize & align your Sales Structure (using your Sales Activity)

Chances are, your business development structure is sub-optimal. Too many SMBs have sales generalists (hunting and farming) vs. specialists (hunting or farming) leaving them with lumpy and inconsistent sales pipelines. Hunting for new business and winning new clients is very different from managing existing accounts.

A quick way to gauge is by examining your outbound sales activity, connections and new meetings.  Zoom out and see if there is significant variance in effort (or just not enough):

Before you hire (or promote) your next Sales Leader, use this opportunity to specialize and align your business development team using the right combination of core roles: Business Development Rep (outbound), Market Response Rep (inbound) Account Executive (closer) & Account Manager (farmer).

4: Design the Success Profile for your ideal Sales Leader

Chances are, the Success Profile for your Sales Leader role needs to be redesigned.  Too often I see vague job descriptions that lack clarity and detail.

Before you start to search or consider a candidate for this role, put together a thorough Success Profile including a job mission (the “main thing”), performance goals & expectations (lead & lag measures), a 2 year ramp schedule, primary responsibilities, key competencies and a compensation plan. In addition, detail the anticipated challenges so that you can ask questions about them during the interview process (rather than wait for them to be surprised after they start).

This step is crucial for not only selecting but attracting the right talent and ensuring a successful transition.


Rather than rushing to fill the vacancy left by a departing sales leader, take a step back to strengthen your sales foundation. By refining your strategy, streamlining your processes, and specializing your sales structure, you can set your business up for long-term success. Embrace the challenge as an opportunity for growth and improvement, and prioritize quality over expediency in your hiring process.

Navigating a sales leadership transition can be daunting, but with careful planning and strategic decision-making, it can also be a catalyst for positive change. By leveraging the turnover of your sales leader as an opportunity for improvement, you can propel your business forward and achieve greater success in the long run.

Nexts Steps

For Founder Rainmakers eager to take action, here is my "live" 6-week cohort-based course: "Beyond the Founder Rainmaker - Building Your Outbound Sales Strategy" kicking off on April 9th. Limited to just 8 participants, this course provides the direction and guidance you need to design and customize your outbound sales strategy.

Go Deeper

Carver Peterson helps growth-minded leaders of B2B technical & professional services firms build high-performing sales teams so that they can confidently grow & scale.