A newly appointed Sales Manager in Calgary reached out to me this week.  She has recently been promoted into Sales Management after being the company’s top producer for a few years.  This is often the case and is a natural progression for many successful Salespeople.  However, it is a very difficult transition to make.

It makes sense to promote a proven Sales Achiever into Sales Management.  They are very capable people and an  important part of the company’s growth and success.

So Is This Typical?

After just being promoted, Jessica (not her real name) was feeling uneasy and frustrated.  Being the company’s top producer, she had built her business on knowledge, experience and confidence.  Jessica knew how to bring in the business and offer her clients the product and service they needed.  That’s what made her successful.

Now as a Sales Manager, she was in a different world.  Jessica has a new sales team that needs training, yet monthly budgets have to be made.  Her feelings of confidence as a Sales Achiever were being shaken.   Jessica needed a game plan.  She knew she needed training and mentoring.  Good on her!  It’s a sign of strength to know when you need help and reach out to ask for it.

What is Jessica experiencing?

Based on her situation, she is experiencing exactly what she should be.  Being a successful Salesperson and a great Sales Manager are two entirely different roles.  They require uniquely distinct skills and abilities.  Here’s why.

The Responsibilities of Successful Salespeople

  • Increase your client base and ensure you achieve your sales budgets and targets.
  • Maximizing the Upsell opportunity with your key and secondary current accounts.
  • Continuing to focus on New Business Development to replace attrition and grow your revenues.
  • Service your existing clients to the same degree when you were enticing them.
  • Consistently stay in touch with your client’s changing needs and requirements.
  • Ensure that your clients are receiving everything you committed from within your company.
  • Manage the expectations of your clients and your Sales Manager.
  • Stay current with the competitive landscape.
  • Remain educated on the latest trends and technology in your field.

The Responsibilities of Great Sales Managers

  • Ensure that your company is achieving its sales budgets and targets.
  • Working with each Salesperson on your team to help them achieve their individual quotas.
  • Customizing your management approach with each Salesperson to empower them.
  • Train your sales team and increase their skill set to be able to do their job better.
  • Provide Salespeople with the right environment for revenue and career growth.
  • Show leadership by example to instill respect and self-motivation for Salespeople.
  • Listen to the needs of your Salespeople.  Help those who make the effort to invest in themselves.
  • Hold Salespeople accountable and train them to become self-accountable.
  • Remain connected with your company’s clients to stay in touch with the street.
  • Manage the expectations of who you report to.

See the difference?

Here are the leading challenges of new Sales Managers

It’s not your primary job to bring in sales.  It’s your job to teach Salespeople to do that.  This can especially challenging if you are still on the front line.  Many new Sales Managers still have a role as a Salesperson.

If you solve everyone’s problems, there will always be a lineup at your door.  You have the responsibility of training Salespeople to solve their problems and ask for your guidance in doing so.

You should not be the Sales Superstar anymore.  You need to create them within your team.  Fight the urge to close everyone’s deals yourself.  Teach them what you learned.  

You need to lead.  Show Salespeople how to best do their job in the field.  Expect them to emulate, internalize and adapt your previous success to theirs.

Match the efforts of the Salespeople who want to be achievers.  Do not waste your time saving Salespeople who are not serious about their role.  That is time that could be spent on developing talent that is hungry for success.

The Eureka Moment

What gives me the credibility to make those statements?  Every one of the above challenges were mistakes I made early in my Sales Management career.  One day, it was as if a light bulb went off in my head.  It was time to be a Sales Manager and Leader not a Salesperson in a Sales Manager’s position.  There’s a big difference.

Look for a Mentor

Having a Mentor who understands how to make this transition will provide you with amazing support.  Without a Mentor, you will go it alone and reduce the odds of your success.   If you find the right Mentor, you will fast track your learning and be able to accomplish much more in your Sales Management career.  You may even be lucky enough to return the favor one day, when a potential Protégé reaches out to you.

How do I pick the right Mentor?

Ensure this person has these 13 Qualities.  This is an excellent post and is your template to finding the right person.

13 Important Qualities To Look For In A Potential Mentor from Under 30 CEO


Should you be interested in sales training, either for salespeople or management, please email me at dave@prosalesguy.ca.



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PROSALESGUY TRAINING offers Group and Individual Sales Training, Sales Management Mentoring and Consultation,  and Business Consulting Services in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.  Training can be done on site or via web conferencing.