How to Prep Reps to Become Sales Managers

Do you remember your first days as a new sales manager?

Unless you had a great mentor, there was probably quite a learning curve to the process (and a lot of nights laying awake wondering how you’d coach your team to quota).

prep future sales managersAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of sales managers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024. While that’s about the average growth for all occupations, the bureau says that an effective sales team remains crucial for profitability.

“As the economy grows, organizations will focus on generating new sales and will look to their sales strategy as a way to increase competitiveness,” the bureau says.

We know there’s a future in sales management. Now, here are six steps to be the ultimate mentor and groom your current sales reps to become exceptional sales managers.

6 Things Your Future Sales Managers Need:


  1. Careful Consideration

For any rep who has shown an interest in moving up the ranks, ask them: Why do you want to go into sales management? Give them the honest run-down of what the job entails. Generally, sales leaders make less money than sales reps, and they have notoriously short tenures.

sales managers quoteOn the flip side, sales management gives you the opportunity to groom and grow a team of sales reps. They would get to lead the department that brings in fuel (revenue) for the rest of your company. It’s a noble cause and opens up the possibility for even further career advancement to VP-level roles or even the C-suite.

Help your reps consider the pros and cons of the position, as well as where they want to go in their career and if it will suit their lifestyle.

  1. Clear Communication

Encourage your reps to tell you what their career aspirations are, as well as when and how they want to work toward those.

Not only can you start grooming them for the position, but you can immediately place on a short list of people who have expressed interest in sales management. Explain to your reps that communicating their sales management goals will open up opportunities for you, as their sales leader, to present them with relevant opportunities.

  1. To Kick Ass

Reinforce the need for stellar performance. Make sure your reps know that if they want to become a sales manager, they have to be good. Really, really good. The only way there will be any opportunity for them to move up is if they consistently overperform.

Tell them to do more than just focus on hitting KPIs and quotas. Challenge them to see how far above they can get. And when they do, take notice.

  1. Patience

Working toward a career goal can be very exciting, but it requires tenacity. Don’t let your reps make the mistake of getting so focused on the next steps that they stop performing well in their current role.

Work with your reps to establish a reasonable timeframe for a potential promotion to sales manager, whether it’s a couple months or a couple years.

  1. Preparation

We know that managing a sales process is a lot different than managing a team of sales reps, and not every great salesperson can be a great sales leader.  

Work with your reps on both leadership and management training, as well as really helping them understand the nitty gritty details of your business. Sales management comes with a whole new set of stressful highs and lows. Teach them as much as possible so they can prepare for what’s coming.

  1. To Play the Part

Once they’ve shown commitment to their sales management aspiration by completing all of these steps, encourage reps start acting like leaders. Ask them to be the person who pulls your team together for a sales win/loss analysis of closed deals.

Inspire them to go out of their way to help their peers and share best practices. Did they just send out a great proposal? Tell them to forward the email to the rest of your team with helpful tips and tricks.

Take it a step further and have them establish themselves as thought leaders in your industry, engaging with others in the business community.

The best sales leaders take a proactive approach around their career, which is why steps like these are vital. Ask reps to continue to come up with ideas for how they can add value to your organization and do things outside their day-to-day role. Then when it is time for that promotion, they’ll be ready.

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