Transitioning from Sales Exec to Sales Leader: Tackling challenges

Post by: Salient Team
Published: 19 September 2022

Making the transition from rep to manager is a daunting prospect for many, even people who’ve done all the right things to develop their skills, as we talked about in our earlier article. It’s a huge shift in both your mindset and the activities you’ll be doing on a daily basis. 

In a new sales leader role, you’re likely to face your fair share of immediate challenges: 

You’ll no longer be the cream of the crop 

Chances are you’ve been promoted because you were a star performer as a rep. As a new manager you’ll have very little experience in your role, and if you’re a success player, it will feel strange to be out of your depth again – and your confidence could take a hit.

You’ll need to be incredibly organised

You may have gotten away with being a lone wolf or slack with your admin as a rep, but this will no longer fly. Coordinating a team of reps to achieve a big revenue number can only be done with strong planning, great execution and time management. 

You’ll have less control

You’ll be moving from having total control over your revenue to driving it through others. Likewise, your day-to-day will move away from talking to prospects, pipeline and deal management to training, development, coaching sessions, setting team goals and finding ways to motivate your team. While you’ll have a positive impact doing this, you’re probably going to need many more years as a manager before you can really know how to move the needle quickly across your team.

You’ll need to nail emotional management

Remember all the years you spent perfecting your resilience, tenacity and positive sales mindset? Now, as a sales leader you’ll spend a big chunk of your time building it in others. Managing the roller coaster of emotions your reps (especially juniors) go through on a weekly basis can be challenging – not to mention exhausting!

So, how can I combat these challenges as a junior manager?

Ultimately, being a great sales manager is about engaging and motivating your team to drive the best performance. Success means putting the right processes in place to make managing your team effectively just another part of your day to day. 

With that in mind, focus on the following:

Coaching and mentoring

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to coaching and mentoring every team member. You need to learn to tailor your approach to get the best out of each individual, based on their strengths, skills and goals.


All the time you used to spend on closing each deal should now be spent on enabling and coaching your team to emulate best practices. This also means letting your reps learn from painful mistakes, even though it can be extremely frustrating to watch a deal fall off a cliff when your instincts are screaming to save the deal.


Listen carefully to learn about each of your reps and what makes them tick. What are their individual drivers? Where do they want to achieve? Learn to spot the early warning signs of disengagement before they develop into bigger problems, and take time to recognise and reward a job well done.

Performance management

This can be especially tricky if the team you’re managing used to be your peers. Regardless, you now have to be assertive in managing each individual, which can include having difficult conversations. Keep feedback specific and constructive so there’s a clear path to improvement if it’s needed.

For anyone already in a sales manager role, we’d love to hear your thoughts and insights on making the transition from rep to manager! How was the experience for you? What tips would you give to those wanting to move up the sales ranks?