How to Prepare Your Salespeople for Leadership Roles [Updated]

Updated September 2021

To groom a rising star for a management role and help them succeed in their new role, prepare them with:

  1. Training in interpersonal and problem-solving skills
  2. A seasoned mentor and coach
  3. A deeper dive into company culture
  4. An understanding of new goals and expectations
  5. Exposure to different situations


You’ve hired a new salesperson–congratulations! That’s super exciting for them and for you.

Now, fast-forward a year.

Your new salesperson isn’t so new anymore, and they’ve become a vital member of your team. You see true management potential.

But, before you change their title, it’s crucial to make sure that you’ve properly prepared them for a management role. Below are five ways to ensure that your salesperson is able to rise to the occasion when the opportunity presents itself.

Provide training

This seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately many companies drop the ball after the onboarding process. Others simply assume that if you’ve been around long enough, promotion sort of “just happens,” and if management is the next position, then so be it.

Management development training is crucial if you want your rising star to succeed. Moving up from the rank and file to suddenly being responsible for the performance of people who were once your peers is a path fraught with unknown and difficult situations. Don’t send your prospective manager down that road without a map.

The best type of new manager training will focus on specific management skills that will help them grow both in terms of their interpersonal and problem solving skills.

Arrange for a mentor

Everyone can benefit from having mentor. But for a salesperson who possess management qualities, a mentor who has taken the same steps can help them make the transition from tactical sales to strategic growth.

When suggesting a mentor, pick someone who is not only seasoned and whose behavior can be modeled, but who also has time—quality time—to spend with their mentee. Don’t just add mentoring to an already busy manager’s schedule. Rather than welcome the opportunity to help shape someone’s career, they may resent the added work.

Encourage the mentor to introduce their mentee to other managers and leaders in the organization. Allow the mentor to arrange for their mentee to spend time in other departments with which they will work closely. It’s also important to have them meet regularly.

Explain the new culture

You probably know this yourself, but a company doesn’t support just one culture. Cultures within a single company can vary across departments, between floors, and among titles in the organizational hierarchy. Your new manager may need to learn a different way to perceive the business, the people within it, and how it operates from their new vantage point.

Communicate goals

While some aspects of business are necessarily privileged information, goals shouldn’t be one of them. Your new manager is going to be responsible for ensuring others direct their efforts toward meeting different sets of goals. Unless everyone knows where they’re supposed to going, it’s likely they’ll end up somewhere else.

It’s especially important that everyone, but at least your managers, know why the goals are what they are. Without a rationale, one goal is as good as another, and the motivation to reach any of them may not exist.

Additionally, a new manager’s goals will be different from what they previously were, and likely will be different from the goals of a more seasoned leader. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Expose them to different situations

The prospective manager needs to be exposed to multiple situations so that you can better assess their business acumen and preparedness for a management role. For this reason, you should install them in leadership roles before their promotion.

Find opportunities to give your exceptional salespeople responsibility for more than just their quotas. Let them desk train newer salespeople, and ask those new salespeople for feedback. Request that they attend a meeting in your place and report back with next steps. Assign them a problem and ask them to figure out what needs to be done to solve it, or discuss an opportunity with them and ask for their opinion about how to proceed.

While it’s up to your salespeople to have the drive and ambition to become a trusted member of the management team, it’s your job as their leader to help prepare them to take that next step and help ensure they succeed once they are in their new role.

Written by Gabrielle C. King

I’ve spent my 30-year career making complex and unfamiliar ideas easy to understand. Today I routinely write 2,500 words or less to help entrepreneurs like real estate agents, RIAs, insurance agents, and others better understand marketing and feel a renewed confidence in their ability to close more deals and retain more business.