8 years ago
April 13, 2016

How to Become a Sales Manager

To change roles and become a sales manager, you’re going to have to overcome hurdles. If you follow this advice, you’ll have a great shot at the job.

Rhys Metler


You’ve been in the field long enough. You’re tired of the trips across the country, the nights in hotels, and the constant schmoozing. You want to settle down in your career. You want to climb the corporate ladder and be promoted to sales manager.

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to make the jump from sales rep to sales manager, especially if you’re a top earner. To put it simply, your company doesn’t want to lose a great sales person. Though you’ll have to prove that you have what it takes to move up and overcome some big hurdles, you can become a sales manager if that’s what you’ve set your sights on. Here’s how.

What to Expect

A sales manager’s responsibilities will differ depending on the size of your organization. However, generally, he or she will oversee, coach, lead, and mentor the sales team, resolve customer issues, prepare budgets and forecasts, analyze statistics, assign territories, set sales goals, determine special pricing plans and discounts, and often, recruit, hire, and train new sales people.

In your current role as a sales rep, you’re used to spending most of your days prospecting, talking to clients, and closing deals. Your work life is going to be significantly different as a manager—the positions are very different from one another, even though they’re in the same field.

So first, you have to make sure it’s what you actually want and that you can handle the different type of responsibilities. Keep in mind, if a higher salary is what you’re after, that you might actually make more as a commission sales rep than as a sales manager on a fixed salary.

But if you’ve decided that being a sales manager is what you really want, here are some tips on how to move up.

Find a Mentor

Connecting with a mentor will help you in two ways. First, you’ll learn a lot. Second, building a relationship with someone in a management position at your company can position you well for when a sales manager position opens up. If you impress your mentor, he might put in a good word for you once the time for a promotion comes along.

Take on More Responsibility

Demonstrate that you’re ready to become a manager by asking for extra responsibilities. You can volunteer to train new reps, open up a new territory, help your supervisor with forecasts, or anything else you think would give you a leg up. Taking on organizational and administrative tasks in particular can show that you can handle the business side of things.

Take on a Leadership Role

When you become a leader that your coworkers go to for advice, extra help, or mediation of conflicts, you can show the higher-ups that you can handle overseeing a team and everything that comes with it.

But don’t be egotistical about it—make sure it’s obvious that you’re genuinely looking out for the whole team, not just being helpful to impress management. Plus, when you do get the sales manager job, your team members will already consider you a person they can trust and go to for help.

Learn How to Handle Pressure and Take Responsibility

As a sales manager, you’re going to be responsible for the actions of your team members—their successes and their failures. And, you’re going to be criticized. Learn to take it all in stride.

Ask for the Job

If you’ve completed all the steps above and you feel like you’re ready to become a sales manager, ask for the job when the time is right. Your supervisors might not even know you are interested in changing roles in the company. Putting it out there in clear terms will get them to start noticing you and paying attention to all of your management skills, so you’ll be at the forefront of their minds when a sales manager position opens up.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.