“I'm happy to be promoted to district sales manager but I fear the bigger responsibility because I won’t be getting any formal training on sales management, any advice?” – JD, DSM

How prepared are you for such a change? Let us first examine what happens if one is not readied and equipped for the promotion. Then, let’s look at what should be done instead.

Here are the horrific malformations that can result from having no proper training.


This lot is comprised of sales managers replicating actions with blind mimicry. They pervasively rely on copying whatever their own mentor does, unconscious of why such are done in the first place. They focus on what and how things are to be done. Zombies are very reactive, myopic and have a very limited understanding of situation-to-strategy translation. Much of their time is spent reacting to situations with tactical remedies. They fail to control situational performance, let alone their own selves.

To illustrate, Dennis, a top notch sales person was promoted to handle a team in another territory. He emulated the actions of his former superior, which was ill-matched with the new situation and ended up imposing actions his fearful subordinates dared not cross. Unfortunately this impacted his team’s performance which was actually fine before he took over. He also lost good talents to competition before getting fired.


This abomination is predisposed to replicate different role models. The attempt to borrow a hodgepodge of qualities from former and current bosses plus admired characters, unguided by scientific matching of situation to strategy, leads to a naively mixed and dangerous concoction that is transmogrified to a venomous potion instead of the intended elixir when applied across varying situations. Frankenstein’s monsters’ cocktail experiments waste opportunities, sales talents and resources. This unorchestrated cacophony of styles is usually misaligned with situation for lack of consistent strategy.

As an example, Maryanne used an amalgam of styles combining those of her former superiors and her hotshot brother but with no clear context of the actions of her role-models. This motley style was fraught with inconsistencies. Her subordinates were oftentimes confused and paralyzed to act as they could not second guess what exactly she wanted. Morale and sales withered and plunged. Team communication became compartmentalized. An informal leader attempted a heroic rescue but unfortunately ended up at loggerheads with Maryanne and was asked to stand down and leave. The damage was irreparable.


These genetically-biased creatures believe in absolutism. They develop, espouse and become ritualistically protective of strong beliefs as to how things should be done to the exclusion of all other alternatives. They have a strong affinity to stick to their own opinion and resolve to be dogmatic and unperturbed in vanquishing any and all forms of resistance. Subordinates are coerced to bend the knee or suffer no quarter.

To paint the picture, Jonathan’s beliefs were his own anchor. Without any significant management training, he formulated convoluted business principles drawn from his myopic, limited, and experiential view of command. Though his obstinate obsessions overcame all team objections, he lost seasoned people and was left to contend with a fearful, tethered bunch of mediocre lads to which success was abysmally elusive.


Most promotions stem from the intention to reward sterling sales performance. Unfortunately, to the untrained, undertrained or ill-equipped, the reward instead ushers in a horrific experience that either brings out the best in some instances, as per the old school method of ‘sink or swim’ or more prevalently, stunts or ruins the careers of a great number of malformed sales managers. To avoid horrendous experiences like those cited, salespeople promoted or to be promoted must be guided to effectively manage with situational relevance and be equipped with tools for success.

JD, make the climb but firmly secure agreement to be trained for everyone's mutual survival and success.

Rowen Untivero is a Partner and Chief Sales Strategist of Mansmith and Fielders, Inc., the country’s leading marketing, sales, strategy and innovation training company. Rowen is a veteran of Training, Coaching and Consulting and has more than a quarter of a century of successful sales, buying and negotiation practice. He is the pioneering developer of many original frameworks and tools in sales management, selling mechanics, strategic account development, retail sales optimization, tactical and strategic negotiation, and many more valuable contributions to the wealth of knowledge and best practices in business science. While most of his training programs through the years continue to be tailored specific to companies. Please send your questions, comments or feedback to mentors@mansmith.net. You can also visit www.mansmith.net.