Sales managers direct organizations' sales teams. They set sales goals, analyze data, and develop training programs for organizations’ sales representatives.

Duties

Sales managers 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.

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Work Environment

Sales managers held about 405,700 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of sales managers were as follows:

Wholesale trade 20%
Retail trade 17
Professional, scientific, and technical services                                                       11
Manufacturing 11
Finance and insurance 9

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.

Work Schedules

Most sales managers work full time, and they often have to work additional hours on evenings and weekends.

Education and Training

Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree and work experience as a sales representative.

Education

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 in a Related Occupation

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.

Personality and Interests

Sales managers typically have an interest in the Persuading interest area, according to the Holland Code framework. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people.

If you are not sure whether you have a Persuading interest which might fit with a career as a sales manager, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Sales managers should also possess the following specific qualities:

Analytical skills. Sales managers must collect and interpret complex data to target the most promising geographic areas and/or demographic groups, and determine the most effective sales strategies.

Communication skills. Sales managers need to work with people in other departments and with customers, so they must be able to communicate clearly.

Customer-service skills. When helping to make a sale, sales managers must listen and respond to the customer’s needs.

Leadership skills. Sales managers must be able to evaluate how their sales staff performs and must develop strategies for meeting sales goals.

Pay

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.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for sales managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Finance and insurance $156,060
Professional, scientific, and technical services                                            150,110
Manufacturing 134,830
Wholesale trade 126,400
Retail trade 86,180

Compensation methods for sales managers vary significantly with the type of organization and the product sold. Most employers use a combination of salary and commissions or salary plus bonuses. Commissions usually are a percentage of the value of sales, whereas bonuses may depend on individual performance, on the performance of all sales workers in the group or district, or on the organization's performance.

Most sales managers work full time, and they often have to work additional hours on evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook

Employment of sales managers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2018 to 2028, 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.

Online shopping is expected to continue to increase, meaning more sales will be completed without a sales worker involved in the transaction. However, “brick and mortar” retail stores also are expected to increase their emphasis on customer service as a way to compete with online sellers. Because sales managers will be needed to direct and navigate this mix between online and brick-and-mortar sales, sustained demand is expected for these workers.

Job Prospects

Similar to other managerial positions, competition for these jobs is expected to be strong as there are more applicants than open positions.

For More Information

For more information about sales managers, visit

Sales Management Association

CareerOneStop

For a career video on sales managers, visit

Sales Managers

 

FAQ

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The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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