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The Politics of Promotion – Part Two

Pros and Cons of Promoting within Your Company Part Two

Within part one of this series, we took a look at the advantages and disadvantages of promoting a Director of Sales from the outside.  This is in lieu of promoting within the company.

In yesterday’s article, we focused on the pros and cons of outside recruiting. Now let’s look at another option – promoting someone within your company.  What happens when you decide to promote an all-star sales representative to the role of Director (or VP) of sales?

As in part one, let’s assume that a Director of Sales is leaving your company and that he or she was responsible for 10 Sales Managers and roughly 100 Sales Representatives.  When this happens, a CEO must seriously evaluate the proper way to staff this newly opened position. Again, we get back to the main question at hand – do you promote one of the ten in house contenders or do you bring someone in from the outside?

We are going to make the assumption that this Regional Sales Manager up for promotion is unfamiliar with marketing, P&L, accounting, mass management, PR and more.  Hence, they will need a good amount of training prior to working as the Director of Sales should the CEO decide to promote them.

You Promote a Current Regional Sales Manager to the Director of Sales


There are a few pros when implementing this strategy.  One of the downsides we discussed in part one of bringing in someone new from the outside is that it has the potential to lower the moral and expectations of those already working in the office.  Those who thought they might have been up for promotion will feel like their job is a dead end and might seek employment elsewhere.  If you promote within, however, you lower the risk of losing employees by showing that there is room for growth within the company.   Additionally, it is usually cheaper to promote a current sales manager as a raise of 20% on their current base salary is usually sufficient.  This is compared with the extra $50,000 it will take to bring an outsider in.

Moreover, if you promote within, the employee has the advantage of already being accustomed to the firm’s business model and have proven to be successful in selling the product.  Therefore, there is little chance of this individual not being successful when directly selling to large accounts and/or training those under him or her.  Also, the current clients will not witness a culture shock when given a completely new “go to,” individual when questions or problems may arise.


Just like there are some advantages in promoting in house, many disadvantages lurk.  First, you risk this individual not being able to learn all facets of being Sr. Management.  Directors or VP of Sales do a lot more than sell.  As stated above, this includes revenue forecasting to marketing and everything in between.  Additionally, if you are wrong about this individual, your corporate structure will go though quite a shock and, if downgraded from the position, most likely your recently promoted Sales Director will leave.   Now, you are left with a large gap in personnel. Lastly, it could take months to fully train this sales person and there is a chance that they just won’t be able to step up into the position.

In the upcoming third installment, we will discuss possible solutions to allowing a CEO to – make you retain your best Regional Sales Managers while, simultaneously letting you test an outside employee.

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