A sales manager oversees the process of distributing a company’s products to its customers and plays a critical role in increasing a company’s sales volume and profits. Sales managers may need a bachelor’s degree in a subject such as business administration, sales or marketing. If you enjoy engaging with people, have excellent communication skills and like working in sales, becoming a sales manager could be a great career choice for you.
What Does a Sales Manager Do?
A sales manager is responsible for handling all aspects of a company’s sales activity. While their roles may be different depending on the type of business, their responsibilities typically include:
- Recruiting, hiring, training and firing sales team members
- Establishing a training program for a sales department
- Leading sales team members by helping set and reach goals and monitoring progress
- Assigning sales team members to territories
- Managing budgets, approving expenditures and analyzing sales data
- Developing processes to improve sales performance
- Tracking customer satisfaction and handling complaints about sales or service
- Maintaining relationships with vendors, dealers and distributors
- Working closely with other members of the company’s management team
Sales Manager Job Outlook
Job outlook for sales managers varies by industry, since certain industries may grow at a faster rate than others. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7% growth rate for sales managers from 2020 to 2030, with approximately 37,000 job openings projected for each year, on average, during this time. In exchange for their hard work, sales managers earn a median annual income of $132,290, which makes sales management a lucrative career option.
Top Skills for a Sales Manager
As you prepare for a career in sales management, you will develop a variety of critical skills through your education and work experience. The top skills that you will need as a sales manager include:
- Communication skills
- Analytical skills
- Strategic thinking and planning skills
- Motivational and mentorship skills
- Delegation skills
- Leadership skills
Steps to Becoming a Sales Manager
If you’re interested in becoming a sales manager, you can potentially reach your goal within a few years. Below are the steps you will need to take to make your dream of a career in sales management a reality.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
While some companies may not require their sales managers to have a degree, a bachelor’s degree can give you the edge you need to develop a deep understanding of business principles and compete for sales management positions.
A bachelor’s degree will provide you with the business knowledge and leadership acumen that you will need for a career in sales management. Students should consider majoring in business management, sales or marketing. Some courses that are especially helpful are business management, marketing, communications, business law, statistics and economics.
Being a sales manager requires experience, so it is not an entry-level job. If you want to be a sales manager, you should start out by working in an entry-level, sales-related job, such as a sales representative.
When you have gained some solid experience, you should consider working as an assistant sales manager so you can continue to learn the communication, analytical, customer service and leadership skills that will propel you into a sales management career. You should plan to have at least one to five years of sales experience before being hired as a sales manager.
Look into MBA Programs
In some situations, you may want to consider earning an MBA to help you stay competitive on the job market. An MBA is especially helpful if you plan on working in higher levels of sales management, such as vice-president of sales.
Consider Additional Certification
If you would like to gain more sales-related knowledge either in place of or after earning an MBA, you could enroll in certification programs. Some universities offer certification or training programs, and there are a few organizations that offer these programs specifically for sales professionals.
Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP)
Global Inside Sales Association, AA-ISP, offers this certification through their partnership with the research firm, B2B DecisionLabs. It covers topics such as acquisition vs. expansion and using a research-proven framework to manage customer relations.
Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP)
The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) offers this certification for sales professionals, CEOs and business owners. It focuses on helping sales professionals reach their full potential by identifying and replacing behaviors that may be hindering their performance.
Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP)
The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) offers this certification for those working in sales leadership roles. This certification focuses on helping sales leaders learn to establish a high-performing sales team with success-building habits.
Certified Master Sales Professional (CMSP)
The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) offers this certification to sales professionals who want to reach the highest levels in their careers. It focuses on helping sales professionals delve into the psychological and emotional needs of their clients to understand how they can be the best sales professionals possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you study to become a sales manager?
You should plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in business or in a similar major that offers classes in business management, marketing, communications, economics, business law and statistics.
What skills do you need to become a sales manager?
The most important skills you will need as a sales manager are communication, analytical, strategic thinking and planning, motivational, delegation and leadership skills. These are skills that you will develop through both education and experience working in the field of sales.
How long does it take to become a sales manager?
Being a sales manager is definitely not an entry-level position. You should expect to need at least one to five years of experience working in sales before stepping into a sales management role.
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