Being Promoted Out Of A Sales Team To Manager – The Success Criteria

Being promoted out of the sales team to a position of management of that same team (a fairly common occurrence) creates a unique set of issues that are worth reflecting on to avoid some common mistakes.


There are three different points of inter-related focus that need to be dealt with;

Purpose Of The Appointment –  What is the appointment supposed to achieve? It’s too obvious to say ‘to manage the sales team’, that is only a description of the role, what is the person expected to in the role that hasn’t been done (well enough) before?  What significant things will the new incumbent have achieved after their first 12 months in the position?Too often the new appointee takes over and simply begins ‘managing’ the salespeople; instead of clearly setting out to them what s/he is going to do differently and better.

Personal Style –  The huge mistake ex salespeople make when they are appointed to manage the team they were part of is to take a position at either end of a continuum that goes from, I’m not your manager treat me as you always have done through to, watch out I’m poacher turned game keeper and I’m on your case. Both of these positions are wrong. The new manager should not want to remain mates, nor become a policeman. What they should focus on is effectiveness. People they are friends with need to know they are going to be different, more objective, slightly separate from the banter more focused on getting the job done. Equally they are going to stay human, not become status conscious or too distant from their team. They will have no favourites simply focus on getting the job done.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

The First 100 Days – There is a more detailed view of what this entails in a more thorough article here. Some people make the mistake of thinking they have time; they don’t. The new team is looking to see what you are going to do, and if the person does nothing (as they get their feet under the table) people assume they are supporters of the status quo. The new manager needs to get on with changing things, shaking people from their comfort zones, making things happen improving performance. People need to make an impact in those first 100 days.               

Getting these three things right will significantly improve the chances of the person having a successful first year in their new job.