Developing high performance sales managers: key practices for accelerating growth

Clinton Oliver Longenecker (Stranahan Professor of Leadership based at MGMT, The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)
Charles B. Ragland (Assistant Professor of Marketing at Marketing and International Business, The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)
Michael L. Mallin (based at Marketing and International Business, The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, USA)

Development and Learning in Organizations

ISSN: 1477-7282

Publication date: 28 January 2014



Further explore the issue of sales management development and identify the practices most critical to sales managers' learning and development.


To explore the development needs of sales leaders, we surveyed 206 newer sales managers from ten US-based manufacturing and service organizations. The sample was 79 percent male and 21 percent female, averaged 2.2 years of sales management experience, 10.3 years of sales experience and 37.1 years of age.


Practices that sales managers considered to be important for their development are: clarifying roles, goals and performance expectations (81 percent); receiving effective performance appraisals and reviews (74 percent); exposure to challenging/difficult job assignments (71 percent); conducting formal career planning discussions (68 percent); receiving ongoing performance measurement, feedback and coaching (66 percent); being mentored by senior managers/sales people (60 percent); involvement with professional associations/affiliations (58 percent); and utilizing 360° feedback systems (57 percent).


If organizations are serious about developing their sales managers, they would be well served to consider the development practices presented in this study. Developing sales managers want clearly defined performance expectations as well as feedback from a wide variety of multi-sources including coaching, mentoring, and 360° processes. In addition, formal appraisals and career planning discussions, as well as the opportunity to participate in professional associations are desired areas of development.



Oliver Longenecker, C., B. Ragland, C. and L. Mallin, M. (2014), "Developing high performance sales managers: key practices for accelerating growth", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 10-13.

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