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How to Get Promoted to Sales Manager: 20 Tips from the Experts

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As a sales rep, you may aspire to move into a management position. And, this career goal comes as no surprise – data from Payscale.com indicates that the promotion to sales manager averages an OTE increase by nearly two times that of what a sales rep earns.

However, working your way up through the ranks is no a simple task. “Getting promoted to sales manager is particularly challenging, especially for top performers,” says Samantha Carr, Account Executive at Handshake Corp. Why? Firstly, companies don’t want to give up their top performer and secondly, the majority of the time sales reps make bad managers. In fact, more than 75% of reps promoted to sales manager will not last 2 years in the role. 

That is why we have combined the tips from the industry’s leading sales experts, authors, trainers, and executives on what you can do to get that promotion to a leadership position.

Here are 20 tips from Sales Experts on how to get promoted to Sales Manager:

 

1. Develop your leaderships abilities and resume

Mike-WeinbergMike Weinberg

Principal of The New Sales Coach and Author of Sales Management. Simplified. and New Sales. Simplified.

Leadership skills are significantly more important than sales ability to succeed in a sales management role. If you’re looking to make yourself more attractive as a potential candidate for a sales leadership role, spend more time developing your leadership abilities and resume than your sales acumen. Take on a tough project at work. Join a board of a nonprofit or ministry. Come up with solution to a vexing problem at your company. The harsh truth is that there is very little similar about an individual producer sales role and a sales management role. It seems counterintuitive, but getting better at your existing job isn’t preparing you to get promoted.”

 

2. Understand the skills, traits, and behaviors required for success

Dave-SteinDave Stein

Principal of Dave Stein Inc. and Author of Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World

“In order to get promoted to a management position, a sales rep must first understand the skills, traits, and behaviors required for success. Sales managers must have skills in hiring, territory assignment, conflict resolution, forecasting, career development, and, among others, working with managers from other functions. A sales rep who wants to get promoted should come up to speed in these areas through reading, attending webinars, participating in programs, and availing themselves of coaching and mentoring opportunities inside and outside their companies.”

 

3. Establish yourself as a lifelong learner

Mark-CoxMark Cox

Managing Partner at In the Funnel – Sales Consulting

“If a sales rep wants a promotion to the management team, they will need to establish themselves as a lifelong learner. Leaders are intellectually curious. Read a book (or 5) on sales. Apply new approaches to what you do. Leverage your knowledge of your industry AND the industries that you sell to increase your effectiveness. Share what you have learned with the team. Only those that have the ability to learn and adapt will make the leap successfully.”

 

4. Start thinking and acting like a sales manager

Jill-KonrathJill Konrath

Speaker and Author of SNAP Selling, Selling to Big Companies and Agile Selling

“To get promoted to a sales manager, start thinking and acting like a sales manager. If a colleague is struggling, how can you help? If you have plateaued reps, how will you re-ignite them? Read about sales leadership and take action — before you get the job.”

 

5. Go above and beyond what is expected

Mark-BirchMark Birch

Founder of Enterprise Sales Meetup

“Sales reps need to go above and beyond what is expected to get into management. That means being willing to actively share sales tactics, set up lunch and learn sessions or a sales book club, volunteer to coach and mentor newer reps, etc.  When you demonstrate a willingness to coach and an investment in the success of your peers, you demonstrate your ability to manage and lead a team.”

 

6. Demonstrate your ability to coach and scale effectively

Gary-SmythGary Smyth

Founder and CEO of Sales Elite, LLC

“Getting promoted to Sales Manager means more than just hitting and exceeding your number. Shadow your current manager or management team and identify tasks that you can assume as an informal Team Leader/Manager, these tasks should help demonstrate your ability to coach and scale effectively. Take the opportunity to lead a team meeting or help reinforce a key sales area by leading a team huddle or call shadowing session. Start assuming the key attributes of a successful Sales Manager now to separate yourself from peers and make that next step in your career as seamless as possible.”

 

7. Be a leader within your organization

Brent-ThomsonBrent Thomson

CSO of Peak Sales Recruiting and Author of Sales Recruiting 2.0 – How to Find Top Performing Salespeople, Fast

“Getting a promotion is not easy. If you want to put yourself in the best position for becoming a sales manager, you need to be a leader within your organization. It’s all about the little things – knowing your metrics, having a structured approach to your day, leveraging your CRM, teaching others, hitting your numbers, forecasting accurately, and being a great corporate citizen.”

 

8. Develop a unique level of knowledge

Kelly-RiggsKelly Riggs

Founder of Business LockerRoom

“One of the ways that salespeople get noticed and considered for sales management positions is to develop a level of knowledge that is uncommon in their peers. Typically, this becomes apparent because they provide more value to their clients than their counterparts — new or varied applications for a product or service, more insight into the industry they serve, or a more significant understanding of the customer’s business. This will often lead other salespeople to seek them out and ask for help. If they demonstrate an inclination to help out and to coach other salespeople, that’s often a leading indicator of a potentially successful sales manager.”

 

9. Demonstrate the ability to execute the sales process

Tibor-ShantoTibor Shanto

Principal at Renbor Sales Solutions Inc.

“To be promoted to Sales Manager, a rep needs to demonstrate the ability to execute the sales process; as managers they will need to leverage the process in a number of ways to ensure execution and success. If they demonstrate an understanding of the process, and are examples of how to make it work for the rep and their buyers, they will be seen as someone who can lead others to do the same.”

 

10. Exhibit leadership behavior

Steven-RosenSteven Rosen

Founder of Star Results

“The key to getting promoted to a sales manager is not sales results. What I have seen is two types of salespeople, one who exhibits leadership behavior and the other who exhibits rep behavior. Leadership behavior is about finding solutions, it’s about showing your colleagues the way when they are stuck, and it’s about keeping an open mind and being open to change. On the other hand, rep behavior is about whining, only seeing problems and saying things like “we can’t do that” or “we have tried it and it doesn’t work”. Yes, good sales is a positive but we all know the best sales reps don’t always make the best managers. If you want to get promoted to a leadership role than you need to behave like a leader!”

 

11. Improve your ability to motivate

Oscar-MaciaOscar Macia

CEO and Co-Founder of ForceManager

“Salespeople who want to take that next step in their career need to focus on improving their leadership skills and ability to motivate. This can be done through self-education, reading books, sales management courses, etc. However, there is nothing better than learning on the sales floor – weighing up the challenges within the real-life setting of the business and seeing how they can be solved, effectively preparing them for their new role.”

 

12. Never stop learning

Dan-PerryDan Perry

Principal at SBI Sales Benchmark Index

“The key is continuous education. Salespeople who get promoted never stop learning. We call it new capability acquisition. We are fanatics about it at SBI and judge ourselves on what we are learning. Promotable people never stop ‘gaining new capabilities’.”

 

13. Get out of your comfort zone

Nick-van-der-KolkNick van der Kolk

Head of Enterprise Benelux & Nordics at Hubspot

“If you want to get promoted to Sales Manager, go above and beyond in your current role. Get out of your comfort zone and proactively ask to help your boss with more important projects, help your colleagues who currently hold the role you want, and introduce new technology to your boss that improves the sales force’s effectiveness and efficiency.”

 

14. Take on new responsibilities

Sam-CapraSam Capra

Founder of SalesTechStack

“Demonstrate you are cut out to be a manager by taking on new responsibilities. Volunteer to organize sales training, lead team meetings, take on an open sales territory, etc. In addition to the business of actual selling, demonstrate you can also handle the admin side of the business.”

 

15. Prove yourself as a leader on your team

Christopher-CronerDr. Christopher Croner

Principal of SalesDrive

“Sales reps should not get promoted on numbers alone. In order to get promoted into a leadership position, a sales rep must prove themselves as a leader within their sales team. Reps can do so by continuously resolving conflict, demonstrating confidence, and regularly suggesting new, creative promotions or incentives.”

 

16. Prepare for both asking for a promotion and interviewing for the position

Thomas-PhelpsThomas Phelps

Sales Career Expert at About.com

“Make sure you have your ducks in a row. If you are ready and your desired position is available, make sure you spend plenty of time preparing for both asking for a promotion and interviewing for the position. You’ve done way too much work getting yourself in a position to confidently ask for a promotion to waste your opportunity by going into a meeting with your supervisor ill prepared.”

 

17. Demonstrate your communication skills with co-workers and customers

Vivek-Thomas
Vivek Thomas

President of Maximizer Software Inc.

“Managers with the power to promote look for people who communicate well with co-workers and, more importantly, with customers. Patient, polite, determined, and confident are adjectives that describe a solid communicator who understands the keys to getting promoted to management – someone who demonstrates these qualities on a daily basis during customer interactions and business transactions.

 

18. Bring new solutions to the team
Steven-BensonSteven Benson

Founder and CEO of Badger Maps Inc. and former Regional Sales Manager at Google

“Be the person who brings new solutions to the team. A key thing that sales leaders do is take responsibility for the results of others. Even at Google, the best way I’ve seen this done is by introducing new technology that will improve team performance. A sales rep that champions new technology is proving they care about, and can be responsible for, the results of the team. That’s the most important criteria for a manager – driving performance and owning results.”

 

19. Be a top producer

university-of-san-fran
University of San Francisco

“Regardless of your readiness to assume sales management responsibilities, the reality is that sought-after sales manager positions generally go to top producers. To be considered for a sales management role, you have to exhibit a consistent ability to meet and exceed sales quotas. You’ll also need to demonstrate a solid work ethic, as sales managers are expected to serve as an example and inspiration to their teams.”

 

20. Become a tour guide for new salespeople

Jeff-WestJeff West

President and Founder of The Sales Tour Guide

“If you’re a salesperson wishing to earn that promotion into management, I recommend you become a tour guide for new salespeople. Jump in and help with the on-boarding of new salespeople. Make sales calls with them and encourage their success. The best entries on your resume for any promotion into sales leadership are the names of those whom your mentorship has played a part in their success.”

 

Put these 20 tips to use and visit the Peak Sales Career Blog for the latest actionable insights on how to advance your sales career.

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Taylor Dumouchel

Marketing Specialist at Peak Sales Recruiting
Taylor spent her first years in the recruiting business helping employers find top performing sales executives and then worked her way up through the ranks, becoming a specialist in marketing and an expert in B2B sales and hiring matters. A graduate from the University of Ottawa, she regularly contributes to the Peak Sales blog.

Taylor Dumouchel

Taylor spent her first years in the recruiting business helping employers find top performing sales executives and then worked her way up through the ranks, becoming a specialist in marketing and an expert in B2B sales and hiring matters. A graduate from the University of Ottawa, she regularly contributes to the Peak Sales blog.

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