Here are 3 of them: 17%, 1.7 and $27,204


17% — The percentage of first year front line Sales Managers that made their number


1.7 — The average number of A player sales reps that left for a different job when they got a new Sales Manager


$27,204 — The average reduction in pay the new Sales Manager was on pace for in 2011


Why is this happening? These ‘A’ player sales reps had become ‘C’ player sales managers. They were working hard. They were trying to do the things that sales managers were supposed to. Things like:


  • Hiring top talent
  • New hire training
  • Sales process coaching
  • Bi weekly 1 on 1 meetings
  • Forecast calls
  • Sales performance management


The answer: The definition of promotable was inconsistent. These newly appointed Sales Managers should never have been promoted.


The below graphic highlights some of the key indicators you will see in best in class companies. As you read the differences between the Leaders and Laggards, you will notice the differences in promotable sales reps vs. career sales reps. You need both. The key is identifying which bucket your reps fall into. The leaders base their sales training and succession planning around this criteria.


sales training succession planning criteria a


Call to Action

There are four things that need to happen to ensure you do not end up in the Laggard category:


  1. Determine your company’s promotion criteria. To do this, we recommend you solicit feedback from these 4 stakeholders:
    • Reps (what type of boss do they want and need)
    • Customers (how do they want their sales reps to treat them/sell to them)
    • Functional Department Heads (what makes a well-rounded Sales Manager)
    • Competitors (what do your Sales Managers need to do to ensure you are not losing.)
  2. Publish this criteria to the entire sales force-promotion criteria can never be a secret.
  3. Utilize the criteria when it comes time to consider somebody for promotion-having the discipline to stick to it is the area where companies fall down the most; no convenient promotions.
  4. Publish the reasons for the promotion–make it a big deal. People need to know “what good looks like”.


You may find some good ideas here around developing future sales management talent. The key to ensuring you are not a Laggard is managerial courage. Please feel free to share your best practices in sales training as it relates to deciding who to promote; I would enjoy hearing your stories.



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Matt Sharrers

Studies and works with the top 1% of B2B sales and marketing leaders who generate above average revenue growth for their companies.

Matt is arguably one of the industry’s most connected, and physically fit, sales leaders. He “lives in the field.” As a result, he is the foremost expert in the art of separating fact from fiction as it relates to revenue growth best practices. Because of Matt’s unique access to the best sales talent, private equity investors tend to turn to him first when they need to hire remarkable leaders to unlock trapped growth inside of their portfolio companies. Matt’s recent engagements include work commissioned by private equity leaders Permira, TPG, Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman.


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