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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Unlocking Success in Sales Succession Planning

Unlocking Success in Sales Succession Planning

Succession planning isn’t just a buzzword—it’s the cornerstone of survival. Identifying and developing future sales leaders ensures an organization's long-term health.

Remember, effective succession planning is not just about filling positions but also about fostering a culture of growth and preparedness that aligns with the company’s long-term strategy and goals. It’s a strategic process that ensures leadership continuity, preserves organizational knowledge, and contributes to overall business resilience.

Unfortunately, succession planning is also often set aside or even forgotten. Makes sense. It’s easy to get caught up in the here and now and fail to put plans in place for the future when your leaders leave. But it’s a big mistake!

Two Familiar Real-Life Pitfalls 

1. A highly regarded sales leader announced that she was leaving, and the company wasn’t ready. That left them with an open leadership position and no one poised and prepared to step in. Good recruitment takes time, and strong selection takes more time. Training and onboarding… well, you see what I mean!

2. A top-performing salesperson (a legend in his company) met with his sales leader and expressed the desire to grow. It seemed that a management role would be the next step, so out of respect for his success, he was promoted quickly.

The problem? They took a fish out of the water and expected it to climb a tree! While he had the innate talents to shine in a sales role, he was not wired for management. Eventually, this led to frustration, decreased productivity, and ultimately, failure.

How Sales Talent Assessments are Used for Both Recruiting and Coaching

Where Talent Assessments Help

This is where talent assessments come into play. By leveraging talent assessment tools and methodologies, organizations can gain valuable insights into an individual's strengths, weaknesses, and potential for growth.

The best organizations use talent assessments to serve all three of these purposes:

  • Hire people who have the potential for excellence in a given job.
  • Coach them to maximize their strengths and work around their weaknesses.
  • Grow them into the future by recognizing their aptitude for other roles.

Key Factors to Keep in Mind as You Build Your Succession Plan

  • Begin Early: Start the succession planning process well in advance so you can effectively identify potential leaders and prepare them for their future roles.

  • Prioritize: First, focus on the most vulnerable and critical leadership roles, considering the impact a vacancy would have on the business.

  • Set Clear Criteria: Identify the innate talents that lead to performance excellence in the role and establish your “must-haves.” Also, consider the skills, knowledge, and experience you will require.

  • Nurture Internal Talent: Identify current employees who have the innate talents to succeed in a future leadership role, build a plan to develop their skills, and prepare them for growth.

  • Consider Your Success Plan a Working Draft: Continuously review and update the plan to reflect changes in the business environment and employees.

Resist the temptation to think of succession planning as a task to be checked off a list. Instead, consider it an ongoing journey that requires foresight, strategic thinking, and a deep understanding of your organization's unique talents.


As the business landscape evolves, our approach to nurturing and preparing the next generation of leaders must evolve, too.

Through this careful cultivation of talent and leadership, organizations can survive the challenges of change, maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace, and thrive over the long haul.

Talent Insight

Topics: sales talent assessment sales coaching