It was the perfect storm. The most significant deals of the year have been closing and your company has been in the spotlight because of the tremendous growth and the impressive client base. Your attention has been on that next round of funding as well as the newest release which by the way, appears to be on schedule. Your VP of Sales is given credit for the impressive growth, but you’re not the only one praising his efforts. Others have been watching and courting your sales leader.
You recruited this guy yourself and knew, without a doubt, he was happy! His goals were your goals. If he was successful and killing it, why would he think of moving on?
Because the best sales leaders can’t wait to do it again. And even if they aren’t actively looking to make a move, they will welcome conversations from recruiters, past colleagues and venture capital firms.
This time of year is tricky for all companies. Aside from watching those deals close that have been in the pipe for months, Q4 is one of the most active times for people to make a move. Organizations are scrambling to get key people on board and at the same time, there are a significant amount of employees looking for greener pastures and dodge the upcoming sales kick off… which is in Vegas, again. Everyone looks forward to the dust settling in the weeks ahead.
Losing your rainmaker is disruptive to put it mildly. Will the team begin to follow suit? Will your revenue take a hit in the year ahead? Why didn’t you see this coming? What will your strategy be?
The fallout from your sales leader leaving can trickle into many parts of an organization, but can be minimized.
All eyes of the organization will be on you, the leader, and how you personally handle the situation will be judged. Keeping things as positive as possible will reflect well, and go a long way.
Here are some suggestions to keep the ship sailing smoothly:
Acknowledge what has taken place and only speak highly of the VP that has moved on. If you easily dismiss the topic, the perception for others can be that they too are easily replaceable. Showing a human side will have people viewing you as someone who indeed cares about the person - beyond the business.
Empower the team. What an ideal time to have a conversation with the individuals wondering, “What’s next.” You won’t want to overdo it, but find out what people really enjoyed about the person and also, what they didn’t like. This is easy, free, and doesn’t have to take a lot of time… but more importantly, it’s not typically done and by giving these folks a voice shows that you care enough to gather feedback and will take their comments into account when the new VP is hired.
Bring in an interim Sales Leader. If you’re an early stage company, you may be tempted to step in and manage the team yourself. This rarely works for many obvious reasons so it’s best to hand this off to someone else, even if it’s temporary.
Forge ahead. Keep business as usual and remain on track with your plan. People are generally hopeful and enjoy looking to the future. If you’ve handled this change of events properly, your sales team will be eager and optimistic to see who you’ll choose for their new manager.
The team at Precision Metrics sees first-hand how quickly people move around in the technology industry. Although employees generally will be loyal, we have found that more that 30% of the people we speak with believe they most likely move on within the year.
Because of this, employers need to constantly be prepared to lose their top talent and have a plan. If you’ve recently lost a top producer, our team may be able to help. We would love to hear from you!