Sales managers direct organizations' sales teams.
What they do
Sales managers set sales goals, analyze data, and develop training programs for organizations’ sales representatives.
They typically do the following:
- Resolve customer complaints regarding sales and service
- Prepare budgets and approve expenditures
- Monitor customer preferences to determine the focus of sales efforts
- Analyze sales statistics
- Project sales and determine the profitability of products and services
- Determine discount rates or special pricing plans
- Develop plans to acquire new customers or clients through direct sales techniques, cold calling, and business-to-business marketing visits
- Assign sales territories and set sales quotas
- Plan and coordinate training programs for sales staff
Sales managers’ responsibilities vary with the size of their organizations. However, most sales managers direct the distribution of goods and services by assigning sales territories, setting sales goals, and establishing training programs for the organization’s sales representatives.
Sales managers recruit, hire, and train new members of the sales staff, including retail sales workers and wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives.
Sales managers advise sales representatives on ways to improve their sales performance. In large multiproduct organizations, they oversee regional and local sales managers and their staffs.
Sales managers also stay in contact with dealers and distributors. They analyze sales statistics generated from their staff to determine the sales potential and inventory requirements of products and stores and to monitor customers' preferences.
Sales managers work closely with managers from other departments in the organization. For example, the marketing department identifies new customers that the sales department can target. The relationship between these two departments is critical to helping an organization expand its client base. Sales managers also work closely with research and design departments because they know customers’ preferences, and with warehousing departments because they know inventory needs.
Sales managers are increasingly using data on customer shopping habits to identify potential customers more effectively. This allows them more time to facilitate sales through customized sales pitches to individual customers.
The following are examples of types of sales managers:
Business to business (B2B) sales managers oversee sales from one business to another. These managers may work for a manufacturer selling to a wholesaler, or a wholesaler selling to a retailer. Examples of these workers include sales managers overseeing sales of software to business firms, and sales managers overseeing wholesale food sales to grocery stores.
Business to consumer (B2C) sales managers oversee direct sales between businesses and individual consumers. These managers typically work in retail settings. Examples of these workers include sales managers of automobile dealerships and department stores.
Sales managers have a lot of responsibility, and the position can be stressful. Many sales managers travel to national, regional, and local offices and to dealers’ and distributors’ offices. Most sales managers work full time, and they often have to work additional hours on evenings and weekends.
How to become a Sales Manager
Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree and work experience as a sales representative.
Sales managers are typically required to have a bachelor’s degree, although some positions may only require a high school diploma. Courses in business law, management, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, marketing, and statistics are advantageous.
Work experience is typically required for someone to become a sales manager. The preferred duration varies, but employers usually seek candidates who have at least 1 to 5 years of experience in sales.
Sales managers typically enter the occupation from other sales and related occupations, such as retail sales workers, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives, or purchasing agents. In small organizations, the number of sales manager positions often is limited, so advancement for sales workers usually comes slowly. In large organizations, promotion may occur more quickly.
The median annual wage for sales managers was $126,640 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $59,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
Employment of sales managers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth of these managers will depend primarily on growth or contraction in the industries that employ them.
An effective sales team remains crucial for profitability. As the economy grows, organizations will focus on generating new sales and will look to their sales strategy as a way to increase competitiveness.
Similar Job Titles
District Sales Manager, National Sales Manager, Regional Sales Manager, Sales and Marketing Vice President, Sales Director, Sales Manager, Sales Representative, Sales Supervisor, Sales Vice President, Store Manager
Marketing Manager, Public Relations and Fundraising Manager, Human Resources Manager, Training and Development Manager, First-Line Supervisor of Non-Retail Sales Workers
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Association for Talent Development
- Association of Sales and Marketing Companies
- Gift Sales Manager Association
- Maynard Sales Management
- News Media Alliance
- Professional Sales Association
- Sales and Marketing Executives International
Magazines and Publications
A talented sales force knows how to find customers and persuade them to purchase products. The person who guides and coordinates that sales force is the sales manager. From hiring and training sales staff, to day-to-day supervision, the sales manager works closely with every member of the sales team. As experienced, successful salespeople themselves, they've usually advanced to management because of their talent for problem-solving, troubleshooting customer issues, and getting along with co-workers and management. These managers have the ability to lead, inspire and motivate. Sales managers need strong skills in tracking and analyzing sales records, using statistics to understand what customers want, and to predict where future potential will be strongest. While generally an office career, some positions require travel. Sales force management can be a stressful career. Managers must balance the demands of meeting sales targets and the expectations of company leaders, with providing good customer service. A sales manager’s salary is often linked to profits, with higher sales leading to bonuses and other benefits. Employers look for a bachelor’s degree in marketing, management, or an area related to their industry. In industries like computer and electronics manufacturing, a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science, combined with a master’s degree in business administration, is an advantage.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org