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Promoting a Sales Manager to VP of Sales - Prima Resource

Promoting a sales manager to VP of sales is a crucial decision for any business leader. It requires a lot of analysis and planning on the part of senior management. You mustn’t only choose a candidate who already has several qualities and skills necessary for this new role, but also accompany that person during the transition to ensure its success.

Here are the steps you should take before promoting a sales VP in your team.

What to look for in VP of sales

First of all, it’s important to understand the differences between the roles of sales manager and VP. The responsibilities of a sales manager will change considerably when promoted to the next level.

The first challenge is to find a candidate who has a good strategic vision. A sales director evolves in an operational context and is always at the heart of the action. A good VP is able to take a step back from daily operations, prepare the organization for future changes over the next few years, and forge strategic alliances and partnerships.

The VP of sales must have a good sense of leadership to contribute to a management committee. This ability is also indispensable for recruiting, counselling, and motivating the sales managers who relate back to the VP. On the other hand, the sales VP must ensure that their department has the resources needed to achieve its objectives. Finally, the VP must meet certain expectations in terms of growth and market development.

Skills of a VP of sales and how to evaluate them

First, it’s imperative to assess the candidate’s strategic dimension:

  • Does this person possess a good sense of analysis?
  • Does he or she possess great leadership skills?
  • Does he or she demonstrate a facility for planning?

A good evaluation tool will help to determine if, beyond skills and experiences, the candidate possesses the strategic dimension of the Sales DNA element.

For example, the sales leadership evaluation from our partners at Objective Management Group (OMG) and the TRIMA tool analyze the candidate’s strategic dimension, accountability and coaching capabilities.

These are three aspects with which the VP will have to juggle with. Skills and experience are important and can be learned, while the strategic dimension remains innate.

Not all good sales managers will make a good VP. If the candidate doesn’t have strategic skills anchored in their DNA, it’s better to question their transition to the position of VP.

It would be better to entrust this sales manager with a role that is more suited to their present strengths. This will avoid creating misalignment within the company.

How to transition from sales manager to sales VP

Companies often devote a lot of time and energy to representatives transitioning to sales managers, and that’s a good thing. But I find that they don’t pay the same attention when promoting a manager to VP. Yet, a Sales VP role is challenging and the role is paramount and can make a real difference when exercised adequately.

You need to take several initiatives to ensure that the promotion of a sales manager to the VP position goes smoothly. As soon as the candidate is selected, begin to prepare the transition and offer the training and tools necessary for its success.

To be able to count on a competent and efficient sales VP within your company, it’s essential to provide the proper equipment and support throughout the transition process which typically lasts several months.

Before announcing the promotion, it’s a good idea to first start by entrusting projects demanding a strategic dimension. It’s also recommended to invite the candidate to attend the management committees to measure how they could contribute to it within their future role.


The VP of sales plays a pivotal role in the business because of the strategic dimension, which is why you need to proceed methodically when hiring a Sales VP or promoting the person who will take on this role.

A bad decision can have dramatic consequences for your business, so rely on the data and science of a sales leadership evaluation to make an informed decision!