Any company that wants to thrive must employ a qualified and competent sales manager who can strategically plan, implement, and oversee sales and related promotional activities. In recognition of their vital roles in business, sales managers are generally paid quite well on salary or commission packages as long as they can handle hefty loads of daily responsibility within a constantly changing and fast-paced environment.

Read on for all you need to know about the position of a sales manager—including skills, responsibilities, and various types of roles. 

What Is the Role of a Sales Manager?

On any given day, a sales manager may analyze market trends to forecast optimum sales performance and set revenue objectives accordingly. That same sales manager might be reaching out to existing and potential customers and business partners to negotiate contracts and foster long-term relationships. Additionally, a sales manager may attend to human resources and team leadership matters that range from hiring and training staff to setting or enforcing policies, procedures, and performance standards. In short, the role of a modern sales manager is both complex and varied.

Typical Sales Manager Job Description

Sales managers will handle different duties and tasks at organizations in different industries and market sectors. At a smaller company, a sales manager is likely to report directly to the chief executive officer or another top administrator. In a major corporation, though, a sales manager may work under a designated head of sales. 

Beyond the general responsibilities already discussed, sales managers usually perform functions such as creating sales budgets and approving expenditures, evaluating sales statistics using quantitative metrics, resolving customer issues and complaints, and representing the sales department before various business partners.

Leadership and Supervision in Sales

Sales managers are team leaders who must learn to tailor their leadership approach to any given situation. A good sales manager will train, coach, and oversee a team with a concentration on motivation, empowerment, encouragement, and support. To incentivize productivity and success, it is important to supervise sales representatives and other staff members closely while providing constant feedback, including constructive criticism when necessary.

Analyzing and Strategizing Sales

To make decisions that generate revenue and promote growth, sales managers must excel at analyzing data to identify patterns that can bring value to organizations. After using relevant data to calculate probabilities and predict trends, they can develop strategic sales plans with clear objectives and courses of action.

The Multifaceted Skills Required in Sales Management

To position themselves for success, sales managers must hone both hard and soft skills. Hard skills are foundational and typically technical in nature, while soft skills tend to concentrate on personal work habits and interacting effectively with others. Although innumerable skills fall into each of these categories, existing and aspiring sales managers would be wise to start by focusing on the following skill sets:

Hard Skills for Success in Sales Management

To aid in their analytical and strategic duties, modern sales managers should have a general proficiency with digital technology. If nothing else, they must be able to use sales management software and operating platforms as relevant to their job description and desired sales objectives. They must also have a strong command of data interpretation and evaluation. Other key hard skills for sales managers to master include basic accounting, negotiation methodology, and a thorough understanding of the goods or services they are selling.

Soft Skills That Enhance Sales Performance

Hard skills are described as “core” skills, yet so-called “secondary” soft skills often prove just as, if not more, essential in the workplace. At the very least, they can separate an average sales manager from an exceptional one. Critical soft skills in the field of sales management include communication (speaking, writing, listening, reading), empathy, self-assurance, task delegation, and critical thinking.

The Journey to a Career as a Sales Manager

No two paths to a rewarding sales management career look exactly the same. While an ambitious sales rep with little or no higher education can earn a promotion to management after years of productive quality work, a well-trained individual with a college degree in sales and/or business can typically secure a sales manager position far more quickly. As you chart your own career route, try to find the right combination of education and work experience for you.

Educational Requirements for Sales Managers

Some companies will state minimum educational requirements for open sales management positions, but others will not. According to independent studies such as one conducted by career resource authority Zippia, well over half of organizations that employ sales managers expect those sales managers to hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. Other organizations might require an associate degree or higher.

Importance of Relevant Experience in Sales

According to Indeed for Employers, sales professionals should have at least five years of applicable experience before seeking on-the-job training for a sales management position with a specific company. Of course, academic degrees and industry certifications are also highly valued by companies in search of a sales manager and may serve as a substitute for professional experience.

Salary Expectations: How Much Do Sales Managers Make?

According to the most recent statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a sales manager is $130,600 per year. However, final take-home pay in the field of sales management can vary significantly.

Factors Influencing Sales Manager Salaries

Financial compensation for sales managers can differ for a variety of reasons. For one thing, some sales managers are strictly salaried, while others commonly receive payment through commissions, premiums, and bonuses. Other factors that influence sales management pay include the size, location, and industry of the employing company. Of course, academic degrees, work experience, and levels of responsibility also have a profound impact on compensation.

Types of Sales Manager Jobs

While or after becoming a sales manager, you can expand or shift into a number of affiliated positions. Read on for more information about work as an account manager, marketing manager, and sales support manager.

Understanding the Role of an Account Manager

Though they often handle sales, account managers go further to stress relationship-building at every stage of the consumer journey.

The Intersection of Sales and Marketing Management

The fields of sales and marketing are both interrelated and interdependent. For this reason, many companies are combining sales and marketing management into a single position.

Role of a Sales Support Manager

Sales coordinators, assistants, and analysts are just a few examples of sales support personnel. A sales support manager oversees the work of these types of staff members.

The Responsibilities of a Regional Sales Manager

As you progress as a sales manager with a large company, you might become a regional sales manager in charge of progressively larger or key geographic areas.

Stepping Up as a Sales Director

Serving a higher-level role than a sales manager, a sales director concentrates less on daily operational details and more on overall objectives and strategy. In many cases, sales directors serve as intermediaries between sales managers and executive administrators.

The Working Environment of Sales Managers

The exact working environment of a sales manager will depend on company size, industry, and a number of other factors that also influence pay. Still, it is useful to examine the common workplace benefits and challenges that most sales managers tend to experience.

Daily Life of a Sales Manager

Although remote work is becoming increasingly common among sales managers, many companies require these professionals to come into the office each workday. In addition, they may need to visit the offices of clients as well as different local, regional, national, or international branches of the companies that employ them. Before entering this profession, you should be advised that working environments in the sales field are frequently quite fast-paced and high-pressure.

Challenges and Rewards in Sales Management

Beyond adapting to a rapid pace of work and performing professionally under a tremendous amount of pressure, a sales manager must learn to work with underperforming team members and unresponsive customers, among a whole host of other challenges largely beyond their control. A sudden economic collapse or global pandemic could destroy sales performance at any time. 

With that said, sales managers generally receive fair financial compensation for navigating these issues. Furthermore, they report professional perks that include relative autonomy and flexibility in terms of scheduling and other matters that affect work/life balance. Many sales managers love that their job presents opportunities to interact with diverse types of people every day.

Transitioning From Sales Representative to Sales Leader

As previously addressed, there is more than one way to break into the sales management field. But with the right combination of training and experience, the opportunities to transition from sales rep to sales manager are substantial. According to the BLS, the sales management occupation is expected to expand by 22,500 positions from 2022 to 2032, slightly outpacing the national average.

Preparing for a Sales Manager Interview

Sales management job candidates should prepare for an employment interview knowing that statistical, factual, and experiential responses might be more crucial for sales positions than for those in other professional fields. You might want to have answers ready for common questions like, “How would the top sales performer on your team describe you?” and, “How much do you know about sales management software and data analytics?”

Industries for Sales Management Jobs

Sales managers are needed in virtually all commercial industries, and their skills are equally applicable in many government and nonprofit settings. However, retail, technology, and healthcare are three sales management industries worth special consideration.

Sales Management in the Retail Industry

Common employers for general and specialized sales managers alike, retail organizations require large numbers of leaders to oversee sales operations both in brick-and-mortar stores and on e-commerce websites.

Opportunities in the Tech Industry for Sales Managers

More and more management professionals are working in tech sales—and for good reason. Generally, pay is high and remote work is abundant in the technology sector. Tech sales managers can find numerous opportunities to expand and advance their careers as well.

The Role of Sales Management in Healthcare

In addition to ensuring that sales reps meet their quotas and perform other functions common to all industries, healthcare sales managers strive to streamline processes to benefit patients as final consumers.

Are You Ready to Pursue a Career in Sales Management?

To discover more about the sales management career path, contact Salem University today. You will also want to review the details of our Associate of Science in Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Management programs.

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