Transitioning from Sales Rep to Sales Leadership: Insights from Caroline Celis and Natalie Durot from G2

Apr 17, 2023


If you have ever considered making the leap from being an individual contributor sales rep to a sales manager, you’re in for a treat. In a recent RepVue podcast, host Darin Alpert, had an insightful conversation with two dynamic leaders from G2: Natalie Durot, Commercial Sales Manager, and Caroline Celis, Senior Director of Global Business Development. Together, they shared their experiences, challenges, and invaluable advice on how to successfully navigate this exciting career transition.

In this episode, our guests discussed how to determine if moving from IC to Sales leadership is right for your career, the traits of great sales leaders, specific tactical steps you can take to get into sales leadership, and many other insightful takeaways from making this transition. So, buckle up and get ready to learn from the best, as we recap the highlights from this enlightening conversation that will help you elevate your sales career.


Section 1: Deciding if the Sales Leadership Path is Right for You

Both Caroline and Natalie shared their personal journeys on how they realized that moving from an individual contributor (IC) to a sales leadership role was the right choice for them. Caroline mentioned that she found more satisfaction in helping others succeed, stating, “I got more satisfaction out of their wins than my own wins.” She also felt drawn to strategic projects that allowed her to have a wider impact and work cross-functionally with other teams.

Natalie, on the other hand, admitted that she stumbled into sales leadership, but found that she enjoyed coaching others and helping them improve their sales skills. She said, “I saw that it would help them. That’s when I realized I really liked the coaching component of things.” Both guests emphasized the importance of finding fulfillment in helping others, which ultimately played a significant role in their decision to pursue sales leadership positions.

Section 2: Identifying the Traits of Great Sales Leaders

Both Natalie and Caroline agreed that they had a common role model in their careers, Michelle Vu, who they considered to be a true leader. They admired her ability to inspire, mentor, and advocate for her team members. Natalie shared how Michelle had helped her secure her first leadership role, stating, “She just has a lot of confidence and pushes us to do really well.”

Caroline added that Michelle was exceptional at communicating the “why” behind their work, understanding that team members were not solely motivated by hitting sales targets. She said, “She’s like, I know the specific things that you’re trying to accomplish in your personal life that this is going to help you do that.” This genuine approach to leadership left a lasting impression on both guests, inspiring them to lead with the same level of empathy and understanding.

Section 3: Tactical Steps to Get into Sales Leadership

Natalie believes that in order to transition into sales leadership, you need to execute on two fundamental goals. One is to excel in your current role and be one of the top performers on your given team and role. Secondly, you need to identify any gaps between their current position and their desired role and proactively work on those gaps while continuing to perform above expectations in your current role. Additionally, she emphasizes the importance of having conversations with key stakeholders and creating a map in one’s head to work backward from the desired goal to all the decision makers included in the process. She likens it to closing a deal, where mapping out the process, champions, and timelines is essential to positioning yourself as a candidate for sales leadership. 

Caroline stresses the importance of trying to do the job before someone gives it to you, making it a no-brainer when you ask for the position. She advises finding opportunities to test your potential leadership skills and showcasing your abilities with concrete examples. Furthermore, Caroline agrees with Natalie about being vocal about your interests and asking mentors or bosses to help identify any skill gaps you may have. This allows you to address those gaps and gain the necessary exposure to excel in the desired leadership role.

Section 4: Advice for Sales Reps Considering Leadership

Natalie recommends having conversations with those who have already transitioned into leadership roles to gain insights into what they like and dislike about their positions. She also suggests trying to get involved in things that leaders are doing or shadowing them if possible. By doing this, you can gain some pseudo experience to help you decide if sales leadership is the right path for you.

Caroline advises finding a mentor in a role you potentially want to be in, as these individuals typically enjoy helping and elevating others. Establishing this formal relationship can be beneficial not only for getting insight and understanding skill gaps, but also for having someone to turn to once you become a leader. Mentors can assist with navigating difficult conversations or situations, making them invaluable resources in the early stage of your leadership journey.


Thanks again to our guests Natalie and Caroline for sharing their valuable insights and experiences on taking the leap from individual contributor sales rep to sales leadership. We encourage you to listen to the full podcast episode to hear about additional topics such as leading hybrid and remote teams and fostering positive account executive and BDR team collaboration.

Looking to break into your first leadership role? Check out our open sales jobs here. Also, don’t miss out on exploring the top companies for culture and leadership by checking out the list on RepVue. Dive deeper into the world of sales leadership and learn from the best in the industry. Happy listening, and best of luck on your sales leadership journey!

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