What it takes to be a successful VP of Sales in Tech

16 Traits a Successful VP of Sales for a Startup Should Have

Amy Volas
14 min readSep 24, 2021


So you’re considering hiring a VP of Sales for your startup. Are you sure you know what to look for?

After working with more startups than I can count over the years, I can tell you this much: most Founders think they know what makes an outstanding VP of Sales. But they don’t realize how much they don’t know about hiring for this crucial position.

Of course you’re looking for a smart VP of Sales with tons of experience under their belt. What you may not be looking for are all the other nuanced characteristics and traits that make someone the right fit for your team, the stage your business is in, and, ultimately, your startup.

And as I talked about in my post on the true cost of a bad hire at the VP level, making the wrong choice is a 7-figure problem, causing a seemingly never-ending headache, and setting your organization back for who knows how long.

The real kicker? You’ll have to start the hiring process all over again.

I would hate to see this scenario happen to you. So I’m going to help you find and hire the right VP of Sales for your startup today.

You’ll find key characteristics (which I call superpowers) to look for in your best candidates. Then we’ll discuss the top traits every VP of Sales for a startup should have.

So grab your notebook, and let’s begin with:

Understanding VP of Sales’ Superpowers

Most VPs of Sales excel in one or two specific areas. They have more experience in those lanes than experience in other avenues.

That’s what we refer to as their “superpowers.”

And I honestly believe you should identify every candidate’s superpowers before assessing their traits.


Because even if someone checks all your trait boxes — but they lack experience in your startup’s situation or needs — you’ll need to find another VP soon after your hire.

My dear friend Doug Landis lays the four superpower categories most VPs fall under well:

1. Deal Management



Amy Volas

Helping SaaS startups hire executive Sales and CS leaders without the cringe ⋆ Personally closed $100MM+ ⋆ Founder/CEO ⋆ 2 Exits ⋆ LP ⋆ Sharing lessons here

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