Building Success in Director/VP National Accounts Roles

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Anytime a position opens up within your organization, the pressure to identify the right fit can be immense.

Finding the ideal balance of skills and knowledge, paired with maintaining or improving company culture and team cohesiveness is no small task. One particularly consequential role within many organizations is the Director/VP of National Accounts.

This position interacts with people both inside and outside your company – often having a hand in important business decisions that affect everyone. It needs to be filled with an extra level of thought and consideration.

Understanding the role and how it will affect your business is the first step in finding the right fit.

What is the role of a Director/VP National Accounts?

Bottomline: “The director of national accounts is a senior-level position within an organization that deals with the sale of goods or services to large companies. They are responsible for managing relationships with these clients, as well as overseeing the work of other employees who may be involved in this process.”

We know, however, that the devil is in the details and defining such a vital role with a few sentences doesn’t begin to cover it. A successful Director/VP will likely have a hand in the following functions:

  • Contract Negotiation
  • Development of new products/services
  • Analyze competitive market trends as well as manage the assortment trends for your customer
  • Sell existing products/services
  • Strong understanding of P&L and the impact of sales, promotions and timely execution on profitability
  • Collaborate on sales and promotion strategies
  • Build relationships with customers/suppliers/vendors
  • Project management to smoothly implement programs
  • Data analytics to understand sales trends
  • Coordinate cross functionally with other departments, such as operations, finance, marketing, and supply chain

Some of the most valuable skills in a candidate for this role include:

  • Communication up/down/across an organization
  • Negotiation both internally and externally
  • Relationship Building (with potential clients, business leaders, senior management)
  • Strategic Thinking to develop sustainable revenue production
  • Leadership for a sales team and influence across the organization

What value does a strong National Accounts team have in 2023?

After years of uncertainty, the focus this year should be maintaining the relationships you have in order to weather the ups and downs of what remains an unstable economic landscape.

There’s no one better to lead this charge than your Director/VP of National Accounts. Those with strong communication skills and the ability to build and maintain relationships will help keep everyone on level ground.

Now is the time to spend the time investing in your recruiting relationships and top talent.

You need to be a strategic partner and a trusted advisor. You need to know as much about them as possible. How they work, what they like, and what drives them crazy. What they’ve already tried in the past and why it did or didn’t work; what they’re interested in trying in the future. Most importantly, you have to understand their big picture strategy and goals, so you can always be proactively proposing and executing on solutions to help them get there.”

In times of instability, your clients are looking to you – the expert – to guide them. They also want an honest and straight-forward approach; relying on your team to provide insights and strategies to effectively address current challenges as well as unexpected shifts in the market.

Remember, the more deeply rooted you are in your customer’s world, the more they’ll want to keep you by their side when times get tough.”

How do you find the right Director/VP of National Accounts to lead the charge?

With a better understanding of the vital role this position plays in your organization’s success, there are a number of things to consider as you begin the hiring process.

From a very high level you’re looking for someone with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, sales and/or business.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for those with at least 5 years of experience in the field as well as work in another, related industry, and a steady amount of growth year-over-year in dealing with larger accounts.

Once you’ve checked the education and experience requirements off your list, it’s time to start looking at the more intangible qualities that set the best candidates apart from the rest.

When hiring for a Director/VP of National Accounts, consider some of the following:

  • Ability to truly listen, and speak when action is needed
  • Analytical Intelligence – able to interpret the story behind the numbers
  • ‘In the trenches’ attitude
  • Able to pivot and edit quickly
  • Empathetic and engaged – must be able to develop strong relationships

Understandably, challenges can arise when recruiting for these roles simply because it may be difficult to identify the best fit without seeing how they interact on a day-to-day basis.

The role is largely about possessing an ‘it-factor’ that doesn’t necessarily show up on a printed resume. Oftentimes, a company will have to rely on recommendations and contacts within their network to determine if a key candidate really is the right fit… or a more effective and efficient way is to hire TZR.

What challenges will professionals in this role face going forward?

With the rapid expansion of technology and availability of personalized services, companies and the decision makers within them expect more from their industry partners.

As customer expectations continue to rise, businesses are realizing that they need to focus on providing a great customer experience. This means that directors of national accounts will need to focus on creating a positive experience for customers across all channels.”

Just keeping up is no longer an option. Creativity and innovation – paired with a solid understanding of client needs and expectations – go a long way.

Additionally, Directors/VP’s of National Accounts must serve as both internal and external cheerleaders for their company. All eyes are on them when it comes to current success and future growth and the right person – with the right skills – should be excited to meet this challenge, head on. They need to be a visionary, a cheerleader and ready to roll-up their sleeves to get the job done.

How can we help?

A successful Director/VP of National Accounts can truly keep an organization above water during periods of unease and turmoil like we have faced over the last few years.

TZR’s experienced recruiters know how to identify what the best-of-the-best have to offer and ensure they are ready to bring that, and more, to the role. Having a comprehensive network of industry professionals means we know who’s at the top of their game and when they are looking for a change – allowing us to deliver exceptional candidates, every time.

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