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Vice President of Sales Career Guide

What is a VP of sales?

A vice president (VP) of sales is an executive in charge of an organization’s sales department. This role is instrumental in shaping the sales strategy, driving revenue growth, and ensuring that the sales goals align with the company’s overall strategic objectives. The VP of sales plays a key role in determining a company’s success as they directly impact the organization’s bottom line.

This role serves as the bridge between the sales team and the other senior management within the organization. The vice president of sales is often the force behind building a high-performing sales team, establishing profitable sales targets, and fostering key business relationships. Their strategic decision-making abilities significantly influence the trajectory and profitability of a company.

Duties and responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of a vice president of sales include developing and implementing sales strategies, managing and directing sales teams, setting sales targets and goals, monitoring sales performance and metrics, and ensuring customer satisfaction. They also work closely with other executives and department heads to develop and implement strategic plans and initiatives.

A VP of sales sets monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals and ensures that the company is on target to meet each goal. They assess talent; hire, train, and develop the sales team; and manage the sales budget. Understanding market trends and how to use or take advantage of resources is essential. 

Sales vice presidents must have strong leadership and management skills and knowledge of sales and marketing principles. They must also have excellent communication and negotiation skills to interact with executives, customers, and stakeholders.

Work environment

The work environment for a VP of sales typically includes a corporate office setting, though remote work is increasingly common. The role involves frequent interaction with sales teams, other executives, clients, and industry partners. It often includes travel for client meetings, industry events, or to visit regional or international sales offices.

The vice president of sales role is fast-paced and high-stress, with significant responsibility. It requires excellent leadership, communication, and strategic thinking skills, as well as a deep understanding of the company’s product or service and the wider market landscape.

Typical work hours

Sales VPs typically work full time, although some may work part-time or on a project basis. They may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays to meet sales targets and accommodate organizational needs. They may also need to work in a fast-paced environment, adapting quickly to changes in sales targets and priorities.

How to become a VP of sales

Becoming a vice president of sales requires a combination of education, training, leadership, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:

Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree

Begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing, or a related field. This foundation provides a solid understanding of business principles, management techniques, and marketing strategies. Many universities offer specialized courses in sales, which can further prepare you for a career in this field.

Step 2: Gain sales experience

Start a career in sales by obtaining an entry-level position, such as a sales associate or junior account manager. This hands-on experience will help you understand the sales process deeply, build client relationships, and hone negotiation and communication skills. Aim to excel in the role and consistently meet or exceed sales targets.

Step 3: Develop leadership skills

Seek opportunities in your organization to take on leadership roles, such as team lead or sales manager. These positions will help gain experience in managing and mentoring sales teams, setting sales targets, and designing sales strategies. Additionally, consider participating in leadership development programs or workshops to enhance leadership capabilities.

Step 4: Pursue higher education or certifications

While not always required, pursuing a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or a related field can provide advanced business strategy, finance, and management knowledge. This can give a competitive edge when seeking higher-level positions. Alternatively, obtaining sales management or leadership certifications can demonstrate expertise and commitment to the field.

Here is a sample of some of the options available for certification:

  • The Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) is a six-week certification program designed to help achieve sales goals faster and more consistently. 
  • The Certified Professional Sales Leader (CPSL) program improves how a leader approaches sales leadership and influences the behavior of sales professionals to increase performance and revenue. 
  • To make lasting, positive changes to your career trajectory, consider the Certified Master Sales Professional (CMSP) program, the world’s most dominant sales and leadership certification. 

Step 5: Network and build connections

Establish relationships with industry professionals, attend conferences and trade shows, and join professional organizations related to sales and management. Networking helps to stay informed about industry trends, learn from other professionals, and discover job opportunities for higher-level positions, such as VP of sales.

Step 6: Apply for jobs

With a solid educational background, extensive sales and management experience, and a well-established professional network, you will be well-prepared to apply for vice president of sales positions. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight accomplishments, leadership skills, and sales expertise, and be prepared to discuss your strategic vision for sales growth during interviews.

Step 7: Pursue professional development opportunities

Professional development is key for a VP of sales to boost performance, stay updated with industry shifts, and improve sales strategies. It equips you with the necessary tools to lead your team and maintain a competitive edge. Online courses offer a practical, flexible way to gain new skills or enhance existing ones, without disrupting their main job functions. Here are some examples of online courses you can complete:

How much do VP of sales make?

Many variables go into determining how much a vice president of sales can earn, such as company size, experience, and education. While not reflected below, compensation through bonuses, profit-sharing, and other incentives can significantly increase overall earnings.

Highest paying industries

  • Computers and Peripherals: $220,010
  • Financial: $215,585
  • Software Publishers: $210,700
  • Pharmaceutical: $205,900
  • Data Processing and Hosting: $200,335

Highest paying states

  • California: $190,040
  • New York: $185,105
  • Connecticut: $182,760
  • New Jersey: $180,220
  • Massachusetts: $174,630

Browse VP of sales salary data by market

Types of VP of sales

A vice president of sales can specialize in different areas that align with skills and interests. These specializations can be tied to specific industries, types of sales, or aspects of the sales process. In this career guide section, we will explore the different types of roles, shedding light on their unique responsibilities and areas of focus.

Inside sales vice president

Effective management of an organization’s inside sales team ensures that its remote selling efforts meet sales goals. Excellent customer service must occur during lead generation, qualification, and conversion. VPs work closely with marketing and other sales functions to develop and implement strategies that enhance sales performance and growth.

Outside sales vice president

Outside sales management focuses on all aspects of field selling efforts, including meeting goals. VPs work with marketing and other sales functions to develop and enhance sales and growth. This includes overseeing customer acquisition, retention, and development and ensuring the outside sales team provides excellent service and support. 

Enterprise sales vice president

Enterprise sales teams work to meet goals for large accounts through stellar service and support. In collaboration with marketing and other sales functions, VPs oversee account management, relationship building, and contract negotiation to ensure the performance and growth of the enterprise segment. 

Channel sales vice president

Partner relationships are the backbone of indirect or channel sales efforts. VPs manage partner selection, enablement, and management to ensure the sales team has the tools to provide superb customer service and support. This includes working with marketing or other sales functions to implement strategies for meeting goals and fulfilling growth opportunities.

Top skills for VP of sales

Succeeding as a VP of sales requires strong leadership, strategic thinking, excellent communication, a deep understanding of sales methodologies, and the ability to analyze and interpret sales data.  

Motivating sales teams, delegating tasks and responsibilities effectively, and fostering a positive and productive work environment takes strong leadership skills. A good leader is adept at providing guidance and mentorship, managing performance and productivity, and promoting a culture of collaboration and innovation.

VPs must communicate effectively with other executive team members, stakeholders, and customers, both verbally and in writing. Presenting complex information clearly and concisely, listening actively to feedback and concerns, and promoting open communication build a better sales organization. 

Strategic planning involves developing and executing effective sales strategies that align with organizational goals and objectives. This includes identifying growth and development opportunities, anticipating and responding to industry or market changes, and making data-driven decisions to optimize sales operations.

Financial management is a crucial component of any effective sales department. VPs manage budgets and resources effectively, analyze sales data, and make informed decisions about investments and expenditures. Any developed or implemented financial policies and procedures must comply with financial regulations, and executive team members must receive accurate, timely reports.

Finally, a vice president of sales must be adaptable and able to work well under pressure. The role often requires handling multiple projects and tasks simultaneously, prioritizing work effectively, and being available to address urgent sales issues outside regular business hours if necessary. An ongoing commitment to professional development, evolving industry trends, and best practices contribute to success.

VP of sales career path

The path to becoming a sales vice president usually starts with a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or a related field. Following graduation, early roles include entry-level sales positions, focusing on developing key sales skills, understanding customer needs, and learning about the industry and product offerings.

A role in sales management is the likely next step. It involves overseeing a team of salespeople, setting sales goals, developing sales strategies, and providing coaching and mentoring to team members. This is a critical step in developing leadership skills within a sales context.

With demonstrated success, an aspiring sales leader may take on a role as a sales director, overseeing multiple sales teams, crafting sales plans at a higher level, and working closely with other departments such as marketing and product development. This experience further develops strategic thinking and cross-departmental collaboration skills.

Through exceptional sales leadership and delivering strong results, vice president opportunities become available. Beyond the VP of sales role, leaders can become a chief revenue officer (CRO) or even a chief executive officer (CEO), particularly in organizations where sales and growth are key strategic focus areas.

One of the key trends affecting the VP of sales job outlook is the changing behavior of customers. Today, customers have more choices than ever and expect a personalized, seamless experience throughout the sales process, requiring a VP of sales to thoroughly understand customer needs and preferences to tailor sales strategies accordingly.

Advancements in technology are also influencing the job outlook. Automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence transform sales, enabling organizations to personalize and optimize customer interactions. A vice president of sales who can stay up-to-date with these technological developments and leverage them to improve sales strategies is in high demand.

The increasing importance of data analytics is another factor affecting the job outlook. With the explosion of data and the availability of powerful analytics tools, organizations increasingly rely on data-driven insights to guide their sales strategies. Sales VPs who collect and analyze data to identify trends, track performance, and make informed decisions are highly valued.

Employment projections for VP of sales

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for top executives, including VP of sales, is projected to grow by 3% through 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations. To succeed in this field, you need a strong background in sales and excellent communication, leadership, and strategic thinking skills. An advanced degree in business administration or a related field may also be beneficial.

VP of sales career tips

Develop strong sales skills

A VP of sales is responsible for managing and developing sales teams and driving revenue growth. Develop strong sales skills like prospecting, closing deals, and relationship building to help build and lead successful teams.

Build a strong knowledge of sales operations

To effectively manage sales functions, a VP of sales needs to have a strong understanding of sales operations. Develop a deep understanding of sales processes, pipeline management, and forecasting to help make informed decisions and manage resources effectively.

Build a professional network

Building a professional network can help you stay current on industry trends, expand your knowledge, and connect with potential clients or employers. Consider joining professional organizations like the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) or the Sales Management Association (SMA). Attend industry conferences or networking events to meet other professionals in the field.

Professional associations and networks for vice presidents of sales:

  • National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)
  • Sales Management Association (SMA)
  • Association for Talent Development (ATD)
  • American Marketing Association (AMA)
  • Institute of Sales Management (ISM)

Hone your communication skills

A VP of sales needs to communicate effectively with stakeholders, team members, and other professionals. Develop strong communication skills, such as active listening, negotiation, and public speaking, to help build rapport and trust with others.

Stay up-to-date on industry trends

The sales field constantly evolves, with new technologies and best practices emerging. It is important to stay up-to-date on industry trends and developments. Consider subscribing to sales and marketing publications, attending conferences and webinars, and participating in online forums and discussion groups.

Pursue continuous learning

Continuous learning is crucial to keeping up with industry trends or regulations and developing new skills. Consider pursuing additional certifications or advanced degrees to demonstrate expertise and stay competitive in the job market. Look for opportunities to attend workshops, webinars, and other training events to improve knowledge and skills.

Where the sales VP jobs are

Top companies

  • Salesforce
  • Oracle
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Amazon

Top states

  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • SimplyHired
  • Ladders


What are the key skills and qualifications required for a VP of sales?

A successful VP of sales possesses strong leadership skills, excellent communication and interpersonal abilities, and a deep understanding of sales strategies and tactics. A bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related field and several years of sales management experience are typically required. Advanced degrees or certifications, such as a MBA, can be advantageous.

How can a VP of sales effectively manage and motivate their sales team?

Effectively managing and motivating a sales team requires a combination of goal-setting, regular performance evaluations, and ongoing training and development opportunities. Additionally, fostering a positive work environment, recognizing individual achievements, and offering competitive compensation and incentives can help keep the team motivated and driven to succeed.

What are the primary performance metrics for a VP of sales?

Key performance metrics include revenue growth, sales team productivity, sales target achievement, customer acquisition and retention rates, and the overall profitability of the sales department. Monitoring these metrics and adjusting strategies as needed can help ensure the sales organization’s success. 

How can a VP of sales develop and maintain strong relationships with key clients?

Developing and maintaining strong client relationships involves regular communication, understanding their unique needs and challenges, and providing value-added solutions. Attending industry events, conducting regular check-ins, and staying up-to-date on market trends can also help strengthen these relationships and ensure client satisfaction.

What role does a VP of sales play in developing sales strategies and tactics?

A VP of sales is responsible for creating and implementing comprehensive sales strategies and tactics that align with the company’s overall business objectives. This involves analyzing market trends and competitor activities, setting sales targets, developing and refining sales processes, and ensuring the sales team has the necessary resources and tools to succeed.

How can a VP of sales effectively collaborate with other departments within the company?

Effective collaboration with other departments, such as marketing, finance, and product development, is key. Regular communication, cross-functional meetings, and a clear understanding of each department’s goals and objectives can facilitate cooperation and cohesiveness. 

What are the key challenges a VP of sales faces, and how can they be overcome?

Some key challenges include achieving revenue targets, managing a sales team’s performance, staying competitive in the market, and adapting to changing customer needs. These challenges can be overcome by setting realistic goals, investing in sales team development, continuously refining sales strategies, and staying informed about industry trends and innovations.

How important is networking for a VP of sales?

Networking is crucial, as it helps a VP of sales to build relationships with potential clients, partners, and industry experts. Attending industry events, joining professional associations, and engaging in online networking platforms can help expand their professional network and create new growth opportunities.

How can a VP of sales identify new market opportunities?

Identifying new market opportunities involves conducting thorough market research, analyzing competitor activities, and staying informed about emerging trends and technologies. Collaborating with other departments, such as marketing and product development, can also help uncover new market opportunities and drive business growth.

What are some potential career paths for a VP of sales?

A VP of sales may advance their career by transitioning to a higher-level executive role, such as a chief sales officer (CFO), chief revenue officer (CRO), or chief executive officer (CEO). They may also explore opportunities within their organization, such as marketing or business development, or leverage their skills and experience to pursue consulting or entrepreneurial ventures.