8 years ago
April 18, 2016

How to Transition from Sales Rep to Sales Manager

Though it might seem natural, it’s more difficult than you might think to transition from sales rep to sales manager. Learn how to do it flawlessly.

Rhys Metler


When a spot for sales manager opens up, many business owners first look at their own sales people to see if there is one qualified sales rep who might fit the bill.

Though moving up from sales rep to sales manager might be a great step forward in your career, it isn’t as easy as you might think. Very different skill sets are required to succeed as a sales manager compared to what is required for a sales rep. Instead of just managing your accounts and yourself, you will have to take on a whole slew of new responsibilities and manage other sales people who were once your colleagues. You must ensure your team stays on track to achieving its sales targets and company goals. You have to train new hires, motivate, encourage, incentivize, and coach. You have to hold sales meetings, deal with upper management, and pore over budgets and forecasts.

If you’ve been given the opportunity to move up from sales rep to sales manager, here are some proactive steps you can take to ensure that you transition into being a sales manager as seamlessly as possible.

Get a Mentor

Having someone who has been in your shoes, or currently is in your shoes, to talk to when you have questions or need advice can make your transition from sales rep to manager so much easier. Build a mentor-mentee relationship with a sales manager you know and trust who can provide valuable support. Getting recommendations, suggestions, and answers from another sales manager can put you more at ease, prepare you for your new path, and provide you with insights and knowledge that you can implement into your new role.

Be Observant

For the first few days or weeks as sales manager, you might be tempted to jump the gun and get right into the swing of things. But instead, you should spend this time observing and listening. It will allow you to get your bearings, give you some time to start seeing situations from a new perspective, and allow you to create a sense of separation from your old colleagues so you can be more comfortable in your new role as sales manager.

Build Rapport

You might have seen it before: a highly personable sales rep gets promoted to a leadership position and suddenly he no longer has the same connections and friendships that he had before. This sense of loneliness that you might feel, often due to jealousy issues from your old colleagues, can make you regret taking on the new role.

The fact is your relationships with the other sales people will change, but it doesn’t have to be awkward and tense. Instead, be proactive. Talk to your team. Communicate that you are confident in your qualifications for the job and that you earned the job with hard work and perseverance. Be empathetic, take questions, ask for feedback, start an honest and genuine dialogue to discuss concerns, and start building rapport in a new way—show them you can be an effective leader and coach as well as a friend.

Don’t be Afraid to Grow Professionally

You know what it takes to be a manager, so be proactive in obtaining the required skills. You have to be willing to develop beyond just being a sales rep. Get appropriate training to fill your skills gaps. Take online courses, go to training seminars and professional development conferences, and don’t be afraid to admit that you have weaknesses—this is the first step to tackling them.

The transition from being a sales rep to becoming a sales manager isn’t so easy. Even if you were at the top of your game as a sales rep, you might have a tough time as a sales manager. Use these tips to develop into an awesome manager your team can be proud of.

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.