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  • Writer's pictureNick Klingensmith

Transitioning High-Performing Sales Reps to High-Performing Managers


It’s often said how the best sales reps make the worst managers. It’s said that the skills required for being a successful Sales Manager are not the same as for being a top performing sales rep. There is truth to that. Not all high-performing sales reps make good managers. Yet, all good managers were high-performing sales reps.

  • They know how to do the job. Not just do the daily grind, but how to succeed.

  • They have strong work ethic.

  • They have good business acumen and proven ability to learn.

  • They are respected by their peers.

  • They coach and mentor others.

  • They go above and beyond and separate themselves as a professional.

  • They have proven success – and have proven your model.

So, what’s missing?

The problem comes from expecting them to be good managers without developing them to be good managers. Too many managers don’t go through basic HR training, let alone a structured management development program.

So, do you have a Sales Management problem – or a Sales Leadership problem?

Make them part of the Management TEAM (Training; Empowering; Accountability; Mentoring).


Failure to train Managers ensures you will have bad managers.

Promoting a string of managers without proper training is a little like playing the telephone game. With each iteration of manager to hit the floor, they are just a little less informed, a little less trained, and a lot less likely to succeed than those who came before them. By the end of the sequence, the manager on the floor is so far out of alignment with the company strategy that they might be as well be working for a competitor.

When there’s no training, there’s usually a lack of trust that follows. If you don’t trust them, you won’t empower them.


Failure to empower managers renders them as ineffective managers.

Empower means to give someone the authority or power to do something. An alternate definition is to make someone stronger and more confident.

Empowering managers means giving them the authority to make the tactical decisions needed to achieve your common goal. It means providing them with the tools, resources and coaching to make them stronger and more confident. It does not mean to give someone a title, cross your fingers and let them do whatever they want.

Without empowerment, you’re left to do their job for them. Holding Managers accountable without empowering them is micromanagement of the worst kind.


Empowering Managers without holding them accountable is like Lord of the Flies.

Too many sales leaders shun their responsibility as leaders. Holding managers accountable requires action. It requires discussing results, establishing benchmarks, and consistently reviewing progress. It sometimes requires uncomfortable conversations and consequences.

Without this, there are just poorly communicated expectations that are rarely met.

Give them their parameters. Ensure that they understand the objectives they are to achieve. Empower them to do so and then regularly hold them accountable to task.


Failure to mentor Managers causes a disconnect between management and leadership.

New Managers are on an island. Without mentoring from leadership, they are going to gravitate towards what is familiar.

It’s not easy to make the jump from “Peer” on a Friday afternoon to “Boss” on a Monday morning. New Managers are burdened with close personal relationships, knowledge of everyone’s bad habits, short cuts and tricks. Take the time to coach them on navigating the transition and their relationships on the floor. Mentor them beyond the path of least resistance.

Include them in business and strategy discussions. The experience will be valuable to them. Additionally, when they have a voice in the decision; when they understand the decision; they are far more likely to buy-in and promote the decision – whether they agreed with it or not.

Some people are simply not cut out for management, but by following these steps you ensure that you are not the root cause.

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