A sales manager guides an organization’s sales teams, one of the most critical areas of any business. Sales provide the life’s blood of any organization. In this critical role, sales managers recruit a sales team, set sales goals and develop training programs for salespeople.
Sales managers work in all industries. As the chief sales officer, they work with executives to develop a sales strategy that fits with overall organizational goals.
Sales managers work in wholesale trade and retail trade, as well as in manufacturing, professional services and the financial industry.
What Does a Sales Manager Do?
While they might maintain an office, sales managers often spend much of their time on the road. They visit regional sales offices, attending conventions and meeting with clients. No matter where they travel, sales managers focus on executing a sales strategy and reaching sales goals.
In today’s data-driven business environment, they also spend time checking the most recent data on sales. While required to work in a fast-paced, stressful environment, they also have a rewarding job.
Some of the duties of a sales manager, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), include:
- Preparing and overseeing the sales budget
- Identifying and developing professional relationships with relevant industry vendors
- Resolving customer complaints
- Analyzing sales data to help set sales strategy
- Understanding the ever-shifting needs of the customer
- Assigning sales territories for individuals on the sales team
Another responsibility of sales managers is the recruiting and training of sales staff. Depending on the size of an organization, they might handle this duty in both the national and regional sales offices. Sales managers also advise sales staff on how to improve performance and meet goals.
More than some jobs, a chief sales officer works with leaders in almost every department. They work with executives on setting sales goals. They work with marketing to target the right consumers for products and services. They also work with IT on best practices for collecting and analyzing sales data.
Job Growth & Salary
More than 385,000 people worked as sales managers in 2016, according to the BLS. The federal agency projects that number to increase 7% by 2026. Growth remains steady in this field, as sales managers play a critical role in keeping a business profitable.
Growth is expected to continue with sales efforts mixed between online sales and sales at traditional stores. Many retail chains are looking for ways to improve the customer experience and sales numbers. The chief sales officer will play a critical role in this effort.
Salaries remain relatively competitive. The BLS reports that in May 2017, sales managers across the country earned a median annual salary of $121,060. The top 10% earned more than $208,000.
By industry, the top salaries were in the following areas:
- Finance and insurance – $152,590
- Professional, scientific and technical services – $143,210
- Manufacturing – $126,880
- Wholesale trade – $121,050
- Retail trade – $89,380
Salaries and job availability vary by geographic region and market conditions. Job seekers should conduct their own research into salaries and job availability.
How to Become a Sales Manager
Most sales managers have at least a bachelor’s degree. Other sales professionals, seeking the top positions in the field, may further enhance their credentials by attaining a master’s degree in business. Coursework that is advantageous to sales managers includes management, economics, accounting, statistics, data analytics, finance, mathematics, marketing and business law.
Experience as a successful salesperson also provides the knowledge and skills professionals need to attain chief sales officer positions.
Skill sets for successful sales managers vary by industry. In addition to in-depth knowledge of the topics listed above, sales managers also need excellent decision-making skills, often in stressful and fast-paced environments. Leadership skills are critical, as are those involving communication. Sales managers also need to have honed expert-level customer service skills.