Talent [R]evolution

When the ship needs a captain, an Interim VP of Sales is a key hire

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In virtually all industries, sales leadership is a cornerstone for organisational success. The departure of a Vice President of Sales, the initiation of growth initiatives, or periods of organisational restructuring can present significant challenges for sales momentum. At such a crossroads, the need for an Interim VP of Sales emerges as a strategic imperative; after all, every ship needs its captain.

However, you may not opt for a profile that is marketing themselves as such; a Business Development Consultant may also provide crucial guidance at this turbulent juncture. Both an Interim VP of Sales and a Business Development Consultant require a blend of operational sales experience, strategic vision, and the ability to execute swiftly. 

In this article, we’ll explore the strategic advantages of engaging an interim sales leader. We’ll outline how they can empower organisations to adapt swiftly to change while maintaining their all-important sales performance. I’ll also share a case study, so you can see the theory put into action. 

What to expect from an Interim VP of Sales

An Interim VP of Sales will be adept at navigating various roles, namely filling the void after the departure of a permanent VP. Their expertise also extends to crisis management, where they employ strategies for reorganisation, turnaround, and revitalisation, facilitating transformative initiatives to revitalise businesses.

Companies turn to Interim Managers or a Business Development Consultant when internal resources are lacking. Often, interim sales leadership will be engaged on a short-term basis, typically lasting from three months to one or two years. For instance, an Interim VP of Sales may be brought in to stabilise sales operations during a leadership transition.

With the demand for continuity also often comes the need for crisis management. An Interim Manager or Business Development Consultant will bring their wealth of experience in designing and implementing new strategies, reorganising operations and revitalising sluggish performance metrics. Some describe them as situation managers, adept at handling specific challenges. For example, they may be brought on board to drive immediate revenue growth and provide strategic direction while the company seeks a permanent sales executive.

Looking to the long-term, they will advise on broader business strategies and market positioning. Their expertise wil lie in analysing market trends, identifying growth opportunities and developing strategic plans to capitalise on emerging markets or industry shifts. Likewise, Business Development Consultants can offer strategic insights to help companies navigate crises effectively, whether it’s identifying new revenue streams, forging strategic partnerships, or repositioning the company in the market.

Indeed, whether a company chooses to engage with an Interim VP is also a question of culture. In certain markets such as Germany, interim management is deeply ingrained within corporate practices. German companies appreciate the advantages of tapping into the wisdom of seasoned executives while HR and headhunters seek a permanent replacement. 

Meanwhile, in other regions – notably France – Interim Managers are historically less prevalent. Conversely, an Interim Manager is often referred to as a “Transition Manager” (manager de transition) and is commonly associated with crisis resolution and overseeing company turnarounds.

In summary, they ensure seamless continuity of sales operations while laying the groundwork for future success. Whether it’s aligning business strategies with changing market dynamics or facilitating organisational restructuring, an Interim VP of Sales or Business Development Consultant will contribute to maintaining continuity and positioning the company for future growth.

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Companies turn to Interim Managers or a Business Development Consultant when internal resources are lacking.

An Interim VP of Sales takes the helm at a mobile telecoms company

Now that we have clarified the function and expertise of these profiles, it is beneficial to examine a case study that exemplifies their practical application to address real-world challenges. Through this case study, we can gain insights into how the role uniquely contributes to organisational success in a telecom company.

Despite the introduction of fixed and convergent solutions, this European telecom operator was experiencing stagnant sales. In response, the B2B director strategically appointed several interim managers. The objective was to create a streamlined organisational framework led by seasoned cross-functional directors. This strategy aimed to bolster and empower the sales teams and management, with the overarching goal of significantly enhancing sales and revenue for the new services.

The method

The client appointed two Interim VPs of Sales. The primary objectives were clear: refocus sales teams and management on fixed sales while emphasising specific KPIs through targeted reporting and regular progress assessments. To achieve these objectives, the appointed interim directors implemented a comprehensive series of measures.

They began with regular reviews focusing on fixed and convergent solutions, which informed the crafting of tailored action plans for sales teams. Setting specific targets for fixed solutions across all departments facilitated a cohesive approach towards achieving sales goals. Efficiency was paramount, with the establishment of streamlined processes to improve overall operational effectiveness. 

The interim team recognised the importance of knowledge transfer, designing and implementing targeted training programmes covering various aspects essential for success. Furthermore, they initiated projects and customer events to strengthen relationships with clients, ultimately fostering stronger brand visibility and customer loyalty.

Summary of approach

  • Regular evaluations centred on fixed and convergent solutions.
  • Establishing precise targets for fixed solutions company-wide.
  • Active involvement in sales proposals and customer presentations.
  • Close collaboration with marketing, lead generation and sales management.
  • Introduction of streamlined processes for improved efficiency.
  • Development and implementation of specialised training initiatives.
  • Launch of targeted operations, projects and customer events.

The results

The primary goal of the interim management initiative was to drive substantial sales and revenue growth for fixed and convergent solutions over the next 15–18 months. This objective was successfully achieved through the meticulous execution of the outlined strategies. 

An approach focused on sales teams, targeted reporting and cross-functional collaboration facilitated the attainment of predetermined sales and revenue targets. Consequently, the sales directors overseeing fixed and convergent solutions were slated to be phased out, signalling the successful enhancement of market presence and service performance.

These achievements underscored the success of the interim management initiative in driving sales growth and market performance for fixed and convergent solutions within the telecom operator’s B2B unit.

Summary of achievements

  • Achieved substantial sales and revenue growth for fixed and convergent solutions.
  • Exceeded sales and revenue targets through effective sales strategies.
  • Enhanced market presence and service performance in the B2B unit.
  • Led to the planned phase-out of existing sales directors.

Sail to success

In any sector, the ability to adapt to change while sustaining sales momentum is paramount. Interim sales leaders, whether as an Interim VP of Sales or as Business Development Consultants, have emerged as key players in navigating these challenges. As shown in the case study presented here, their strategic insights, operational expertise and swift execution can revitalise sales performance and position organisations for future growth.

Embracing interim sales leadership is not merely a reactive measure but a proactive strategy that can empower companies to embrace change, optimise performance and thrive in the face of uncertainty. By recognising the value of these experienced professionals, organisations can unlock new avenues for success, ensuring their sales teams remain agile, adaptable and equipped to conquer the ever-changing market landscape. In the end, the investment in an interim sales leader is an investment in the future of your business.

Whether you need immediate leadership during transitions or long-term strategic insights for market expansion, Interim Managers and Business Development Consultants can provide the expertise and guidance necessary to drive your company forward. Outvise offers a 40,000-strong portfolio of experienced freelance professionals to help you drive your organisation forward.

Utilising a platform to source consultants and interims providesaccess to a diverse pool of talent with varying expertise and experience, ensuring the ability to find the right fit for specific project requirements. Additionally, platforms often streamline the hiring process, offering tools for vetting candidates, managing contracts, and facilitating communication. To learn more, get your free account and start browsing profiles.

Jan is a results-oriented managing director known for his prowess in business development and marketing, particularly in fiercely competitive markets. With a deep understanding of how technology impacts business, he excels in fostering international relationships and leading multicultural teams. Jan brings extensive experience in creating, developing, and revitalizing businesses, with a proven track record in managing transformation projects.

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