5 reasons to think twice before you promote a rep to sales management

Just because a rep is knocking the ball out of the park in their current sales position, don’t assume they’ll necessarily be happy or successful in a sales manager role. Here’s why.

1. Top salespeople rarely make the best coaches.
Coaching plays a key role in sales management. However, the more gifted a rep is at selling; the more challenging they’re likely to find coaching average Joe’s and Jane’s. Remember, most major league batting instructors were no better than average hitters. When skills are natural-born rather than hard-earned it can be frustratingly difficult teaching them to others.

2. They’ll have to trust people less able than them to make the sale.
Imagine being in a customer situation where the best salesperson in the room has to take a back seat. Yet, when skilled sales managers go along on sales calls they must understand they’re there to provide support, not take center stage. Do they have what it takes to focus their contribution on pre-call planning and post call coaching? Can they refrain from jumping in when a sale goes even a tiny bit off the rails? If not, they’ll have trouble building a self-confident sales team.

3. Salespeople don’t take kindly to being bossed.
Most folks don’t go into sales out of a need to be closely supervised. So newly-minted sales managers shouldn’t expect a warm reception when they announce they’re going to be spending more time in the field. And they’ll need to prepare for a conspiracy should they decide to reconfigure sales territories, tweak the comp plan or require frontlog reports weekly rather than monthly. When a rep assumes the mantle of sales leadership, they shouldn’t plan on winning any popularity contests.

4. “Making your numbers” just got a whole lot more difficult.
With a team goal, a green horn sales manager won’t be able to count on personal sales achievement to stay ahead of plan. Mary is struggling to close business, an important territory is still unfilled, and John is scheming to maneuver bookings into next year. It all rolls up to them. Then there’s the expense line, where the manager may not be able to apply the savings in training to the overage in travel – not to mention being bushwhacked by disappointing customer satisfaction ratings. And, speaking of numbers, your new sales manager may find themself taking home less than they did as a top producer.

5. They’ll likely have to replace their No. 1 producer.
Sometimes you have no alternative to promoting a sales rep to manager within their own unit. So even as they face the difficult task of acclimating themself to their new sales management role, they’re faced with a great big hole to fill. And the most likely candidate is likely to be a total neophyte, requiring the lion’s share of their time and attention.


SalesGenomix can mitigate the risk of promoting a current sales rep to sales manager. Simply assign the rep to complete the SalesGenomix talent assessment and we’ll rate their likelihood of success across 14 sales roles, including sales management. If they don’t score “highly recommended” as a sales manager, it may make sense for all concerned to keep them in an individual producer role.

Ed Shineman

Ed Shineman

Co-founder and CMO at SalesGenomix
Ed Shineman is a lifelong sales and marketing executive with experience in both headquarters and field leadership assignments. Contact Ed at eshineman@SalesGenomix.com.
Ed Shineman