It just happened to you. The Divisional President just called. They fired your boss, the Chief Sales Officer. The President said he ‘had another opportunity’ or ‘we decided to go in a different direction.’ Wow, you think. I just talked to him two days ago. Everything seemed great.


Then the president throws you another curve. They hired his replacement from the outside.


‘How could this happen? ‘Why didn’t they consider me?’ you ask yourself.


You start to think. Every several years in your career you got promoted. It has always been with increasing responsibility. You started with the company as a Sales Rep. Got promoted to a Sales Manager and then to a Regional Vice President. Every step has been because of outstanding performance in the job. You thought there might be a shot at the CSO job one day soon. Your performance has been great as a Regional Sales VP.   Why couldn’t it be me?


Download our Sales VP Promotion Tool. It is a detailed guide on how you can:


  • Assess if you have the skills needed
  • Determine if you have the Emotional Intelligence required
  • Tips and Techniques to close the gaps


how_to_get_sales_job_promotion_toolGreat performance is only part of the promotion equation. Getting the bump from Sales Rep to Sales Manager is fairly easy. Being the top performing rep and the willingness to coach others is usually enough. The promotion from Sales Manager to Regional Sales VP requires more capabilities. You need to always:


  • Provide consistent performance as a Sales Manager
    • Are you one of the best SM’s in the company?[p
    • Do you always tow the company line?
    • Put company goals before your own
  • Show creativity in ways to make the number
    • Do you think out of the box for your customers and prospects?

Getting the Chief Sales Officer position though requires an entirely new set of capabilities. Through all of our experience, you must master these 5 skills:


  1. Superior Performance: Table stakes in getting promoted is not just making the number. It is hitting quota while completing other work. This includes sales projects, planning the sales conference or helping your peers hit quota. You must prove that no matter what the distraction, your team can deliver.
  2. Emotional Intelligence:  Working with other departments is easy. Leveraging other departments to help you hit your goal is standard. Helping other departments achieve their goals is not. But it is required to get the big job. This means not just working internally to get what you want. Its understanding what the other leaders want and helping them get it. You build loyalty and trust throughout the organization this way. This will come in handy when your number gets called for consideration.
  3. Political Savvy: defines it as practical understanding; shrewdness or intelligence; common sense.I define it as knowing when to speak and not to speak. It is how to act in certain situations. How to deliver good and bad news.   Very few people master this trait. Yet it is a requirement to get the big job.
  4. Executive Presence: Executives try to mitigate risk whenever possible. By looking and acting the part, the team will have additional confidence in you. Yes you can make the number. But can you fit in with the team? Work and act like them by:


    • Delivering presentations with confidence in front of the Board of Directors
    • Give coaching to a struggling sales manager
    • Mentoring a promising sales manager
    • Providing courage when dealing with ambiguity


These are all traits of a world class sales leader.

  1. Leadership Trust: The CEO and Leadership Team must unequivocally trust you. As CSO, you are responsible for bring in the revenue number for the company. Building this trust is ultimately the result of the 4 other skills. Focus your efforts on the other 4 and this 5th one will occur.


Take this Call to Action:

  1. Gauge your strengths and weaknesses by downloading our Sales VP Promotion Tool. Prioritize any opportunities for improvement.
  2. Evolve faster than your peers. They are up for the job too. Seek mentorship and advice from the current members of the executive team.
  3. Check your ego at the door. Be willing to accept criticism for your willingness to improve.
  4. Ask for advice. No one was ever successful without seeking help. Remember that everyone has already tried or written about.


Getting passed up for promotion is tough. Most people don’t handle it well and leave the company. Self-assess why you got passed over and begin to correct those opportunities. Use the 5 skills above to get started. The next promotion may be right around the corner.