Succession Planning For Senior Executives or Managers

Profile for Rob Scott, Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment


Succession planning is an essential part of managing any team or running any business. Large companies, public sector employers and family firms concerned with their future are all likely to be actively involved in succession planning across all departments, including sales.


What is succession planning?

Succession planning is the process of identifying existing staff who can train up to replace experienced personnel when they leave or retire. It is often many years in the making, with defined career paths where staff move into critical roles over the course of their career to prepare them for the target position.


At what point do you consider succession planning for your senior staff?

You can consider succession planning at any point in the hiring process. It may be as early as the interview, where the interviewing panel recognises that the candidate is interviewing them and may well be capable of going on to greater things than the position they are currently considering.

Succession planning ideally ought to be in place before something dire happens to any senior staff. There should be an agreed stepping up process; where staff take on duties when the senior colleague is on leave to prepare them for the possibility of having to undertake the role ‘for real’ at some future point.

Critical illness, mental breakdown or worse can happen to anyone, and when it’s a manager who is affected, there should be a clearly defined chain of escalation where other staff take on the role, or aspects of it, to ensure the continued smooth running of the company. The idea is to keep the senior positions filled while recruiting into lower responsibility roles and training those staff who show themselves capable and interested in taking on further duties.


Which roles are most suited to succession planning?

Outside of business, ruling families and dynasties are known for succession planning. Some rulers keep their thoughts to themselves; others make it well known that a certain relative will take on duties when necessary. In a business scenario, it is usually executive and operational positions which are most suited to the succession planning process.


Is promoting your best salesperson to sales manager the best option?

In a phrase, the answer to that question is ‘not necessarily’. Your best salesperson is likely to be a pure sales-orientated individual, not a people manager. They may have people management skills when it comes to persuading customers to buy, but they may not have the best temperament to manage a sales team. Sports teams have the same problem. Some players may be outstanding team players, but may not be able to handle the intricacies of managing a bunch of teammates. Others may be able to inspire both with their play on the pitch, and their leadership off it.

Promoting your best salesperson also means he or she is no longer making good figures out in the field, so you must take this into account.


The nuts and bolts of succession planning

The best way of approaching the succession planning process is to plan ahead. Existing managers should know who will be handling their workload when they’re on leave or off sick. They should work with those colleagues to ensure they are up to speed with the current tasks, the challenges and the potential issues which may arise before they need to leave a colleague in charge.

For anyone dealing with succession planning for the first time, there is a wealth of literature around to help as well as the advice to start planning early. This could involve taking or sending colleagues to meetings, sharing the work on a specific project and delegating tasks.

It may also be that there is no natural successor within the current staff establishment. In this case, approaches will need to be made to suitable external candidates to entice them to join the company with the plan that they take over a specific role in due course. In many cases, the more senior a role is, the smaller the pool of suitable staff will be. In this situation, even a strong succession culture within an organisation may not be enough, and an outside appointment can bring new insights and experience to the role.


Keeping an overlap

It is always best, when planning for a succession process, to ensure you adequately train those in deputy roles to take the reins as and when needed. You can achieve this by having a regular rota for manager or lead of the day; ensuring those staff routinely have to cover for others,  have a full handover process, or instigating a robust training and acting up programme for any staff wishing to progress. This overlap in duties will ensure a smooth transition during periods of low staffing and will instil confidence that when needed, the full succession planning process can be implemented.




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Succession Planning For Senior Managers or Executives


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HR Business Partner, Greene King

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

Senior Recruitment Consultant, DSG International

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

Rob is a true recruitment professional that goes the extra mile that I have never experienced from any other recruitment agency before. If you need sales people call Rob or someone in his team, as they really are experts in sales recruitment.

Sales Director, Inside Business

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

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We appointed Aaron Wallis in February and the successful candidate, out of the six which Aaron Wallis introduced, was able to join Alphametrics before the end of April. The whole process took less than three months. I would recommend Aaron Wallis’ services to others without hesitation.

Chief Financial Officer, Alphametrics

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

I really liked the YouTube presentations which made the service seem both simple and accessible. The company came to see me, and my management team, at short notice to present their service and I liked the support and advice that I received about maximising the results from the applicant.

Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

Giles is highly professional and was a pleasure to work with. He achieves excellent results through his personable skills and tenacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Giles to anyone who considers employing his services.

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I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

Managing Director, Citrefine International Ltd

I found Aaron Wallis to be very professional and efficient, taking time to understand the role and the type of candidate we were looking for. The candidates they put forward met our criteria and were of a high standard. The service they provided was exemplary and I would have no hesitation in recommending them, and will certainly consider using them again in the future.

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I've had a really good experience working with Giles Phillips at Aaron Wallis. From initial contact to the finer details of securing the job, he has been very professional and a pleasure to work with.

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Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

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Excellent experience from first contact to ultimately securing a suitable placement. Giles looked after me in a very professional and friendly manner. He used his expertise and experience to ensure I was put forward for the most suitable positions for my skill set and found me a new role very quickly. I can't recommend Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment highly enough.

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The Recruitment agent I used, Simon, was extremely helpful and really went the extra mile to ensure all of my questions were answered, and that I felt as comfortable and prepared as possible. Very professional company and would definitely recommend to others. Thank you Aaron Wallis!

A. Callaby, Candidate

Aaron Wallis is an outstanding recruitment agency specialising in high calibre sales positions. I was working directly with Darren Dawrance who went above and beyond my expectations in sourcing me my perfect role. I was kept in regular communication with Darren and he worked extremely hard to secure my dream job. Highly recommended and Thanks Darren for all your expertise and hard work.

R. Sealy, Candidate

Excellent service, very professional and friendly, would and have, recommended Aaron Wallis.

E. Heley, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

M. White, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!!!!

D. Burgess, Candidate

Aaron Wallis have provided me with an excellent service, Giles went out of his way to help me preparing for my interview and supported me through all the processes. If you need an agency to give you a fully professional and consultative approach to finding you a new career move, the Aaron Wallis can certainly provide this for you.

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Aaron Wallis helped me secure a position I really wanted. Giles saught to keep me updated with all the details preceding interviews and after with feedback. I would highly recommend Giles and Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment.

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A great recruitment company to work with. Excellent experience with Aaron Wallis through the entire recruitment process. The team was really professional and extremely helpful. Darren was a pleasure to work with. He was friendly, supportive and gave me great advice. Thank you very much!

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