Questions to Ask Yourself -- Before Promoting a Sales Rep to Sales Manager

You're considering three candidates for the open sales manager position.  One of them works as a sales representative for your organization.  This rep impressed you during the interview process, her answers indicating she's given the position a great deal of thought. Her product and company knowledge would cut down considerably on her ramp-up time.  But she's never been a sales manager before and the other two candidates have. Most executives find themselves in this position at one point or another --- having to choose between the eager, inexperienced sales management candidate or the seasoned sales manager.

When leaning towards the candidate with no sales management experience, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do they want the job?
  • Can they describe a situation in which they've helped another rep close a deal?
  • Who was their favorite sales manager? What did they learn from them?
  • How did they respond to being asked about the differences between a salesperson and a sales manager?
  • Have you asked them to take a sales management assessment?  What did it show?
  • In a situation where they have to decide between advocating for the customer or the company -- what decision would they make?
  • How will they address their new promotion with their former peers?
  • What do they think the most difficult aspect of the job will be?

Sometimes a candidate's enthusiasm trumps theirlack of experience.  They might get you fired up too.  Candidates like this often don't know it can't be done.  Temper your enthusiasm by determining whether or not they have the sales manager skill setand an understanding of what it really takes to succeed in the position.