Work in the field of your choice as a sales manager

Sales Manager

Career spotlight: Sales manager

Sales managers direct a company's sales team by developing goals based on data, analysis, and maximized promotions. In addition to helping to implement these processes, they manage personnel through consulting, training, or on-the-job interaction. Sales managers may also have the responsibility of developing relationships with retailers and suppliers. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the job is that the responsibilities and duties depend on the industry, making the job exciting and allowing candidates to search for one in their preferred field. If you're interested in starting a career as a sales manager, here's a useful guide to help you decide if the position is right for you.

What Does a Sales Manager Do?

Responsibilities

As a sales manager, it is your duty to take available information and use it to maximize a company's revenue and net income. This most often concerns data and financial analyses, but a knowledge of IT and computers are also important. Sales manager jobs in a corporate or office setting are typically similar, while other industries, specifically retail, may require extensive travel to retail store locations. Product knowledge is a must in this position. Other responsibilities may include:

  • Developing sales strategies to maximize revenue and leverage any promotions the company may have
  • Working with subordinates to improve their sales skills
  • Setting subordinate sales goals as defined by the company or to challenge the individual
  • Monitoring the goals of the team after sales goals are set
  • Evaluating the performance of the team
  • Providing valuable feedback to members of the team, as well as senior staff
  • Generating sales reports on a monthly or quarterly basis
  • Adjusting sales goals each time new information is provided
  • Providing all necessary materials to enable staff to do their job
  • Promoting an atmosphere conducive to better sales figures
  • Developing new ways and ideas to promote sales
  • Working closely with clients or other intermediaries to foster strong business relationships
  • Attaining or exceeding all sales goals
  • Attending all trade conventions or industry events in order to network or use new industry sales methods
  • Investigating any problems with client relations

Work Environment

Many sales managers spend a majority of their time in an office setting. However, there's a strong chance that extensive travel is a requirement for the job. The distance and amount of time traveled varies from a local or regional level to national or international traveling. Most sales managers do not have set hours, requiring them to work long days, evenings, and weekends depending on the responsibilities at hand. Because sales managers have long hours and travel requirements, individuals must also have the ability to handle stress on a routine basis.

Sales managers also need to have excellent communication skills, as much of the job entails interaction with colleagues, suppliers, and customers. Making phone calls and sending emails are mandatory whether at home, in the field, or at the office. Face-to-face communication is another important aspect of the job, as sales managers may have to meet with clients in person. Even in a more casual setting, sales managers need to remain professional and focus on closing the deal.

Depending on the size of the business, as well as the seasonal nature of the product, these requirements can vary greatly. For example, a company that sells lawn care products will have a lengthy and hectic period during the spring and summer, while the workload in fall and winter falls considerably.

What Are a Sales Manager's Required Qualifications?

Education

The education requirements for a sales manager vary depending on the size of their team, the type of product sold, and the level of expertise needed to adequately fill the position. Most of the time, employers require a certain level of sales experience, along with a bachelor's degree in a related field. In some cases, a master's degree is also required. Certificates in sales management aren't usually a requirement, but they help to strengthen skills and solidify the resume of a potential candidate. Some areas of study and qualifications include:

  • A four-year bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as business administration, finance, marketing, advertising, economics, or statistics
  • A Certified Sales Leadership Professional or Certified Sales Operations Professional certificate from the Sales Management Association
  • A master's degree in business administration, statistics, or similar field
  • Any state-required licensing exams, if applicable
  • Continued education of sales practices
  • A moderate knowledge of computers
  • Spreadsheet, database, presentation, and word processing software

In addition to this education and certification, sales managers also need on-the-job training to gain familiarity with the ethics, operations, and business procedures of their employer. If the job demands hands-on knowledge of products, the sales manager will also require more training.

Experience

Sales managers don't often obtain the position right out of college. Instead, they must demonstrate their sales skills in an entry-level position. However, many of these entry-level positions don't necessarily require a college degree. This means that people who choose not to obtain a degree still have opportunities to become a sales manager. College graduates may require less on-the-job experience for consideration or a promotion. A mix of education, certification, sales, and management experience is the ultimate package for candidates, putting those with this blend of skills in high demand.

As a sales manager gains more industry and job knowledge, he or she takes on a wider range of responsibilities. The better they are at gaining and holding knowledge, and outperforming sales expectations, the more the job grows in value. Data indicates that many in the field have less than five years' experience, while those with 10 to 20 years on the job are most prevalent. Those with over 20 years' experience are rare, as most see a promotion with about 15 years' experience.

These statistics indicate that while experience isn't rare in the industry, young, ambitious job prospectors shouldn't feel discouraged at finding a sales manager job.

Skills

Although client relations, statistical analysis, and sales figures are the most pertinent skills to the job, there are other strengths highly valued by employers, and that also prepare candidates to excel in the position. Here are just a few of the skills that employers look for when hiring a sales manager:

  • Analytical Ability - Taking numbers and statistical data, and turning them into information that makes sense to coworkers, clients, and colleagues
  • Problem Solving - Figuring out ways to meet and exceed sales goals, even under high pressure or time constraints
  • Great Work Ethic - Using time as a valuable asset, as well as staying on the job outside the mandatory work schedule
  • Delegation of Duties - Deciding which employees are best equipped to handle each task at hand, then providing a schedule and a list of expectations to each employee
  • Creativity - Finding new, exciting, and unique ways to generate more sales
  • Product Knowledge - Studying and learning all aspects of each product sold, making explanations to customers simple and streamlined
  • Dealing with High Pressure - Having a strong ability to handle stress or high pressure situations, thus helping staff to complete their goals and providing a brilliant example to subordinates
  • Good Judgment - Using knowledge, experience, and managerial skills to avoid any calamities or pitfalls

How Much Do Sales Managers Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales managers earned a median pay of $113,860 per year, yet an hourly figure isn't easily attainable because of the varied number of hours worked. The bottom 10 percent of sales managers made about $54,000 a year, while the top 10 percent took home around $187,000 annually.

Geographic location is also a vital aspect with regard to sales manager wages. The highest paying city in the country is Houston, which offers salaries 13 percent above the national average. Denver, Dallas, Chicago, and New York also have some of the best salaries in the country, while Miami lags 4 percent behind the national average.

What Is A Sales Manager's Job Outlook?

Projected Growth

The 2015 statistics from the Bureau of Labor show that sales manager positions are expected to increase by 5 percent over the next 10 years, making it about average with all other jobs. Currently, there are over 376,000 sales manager positions in the country, with another 19,000 to be added by 2024. However, data also indicates a strong variance in specific industries, as many will either expand or contract over this 10-year period.

Career Trajectory

Successful sales managers have a wide array of opportunity for advancement, especially those in growing industries like technology and health care. The emergence of several economies around the world also allows for potential placement in places across the globe.

Promotion opportunities include many titles such as a business development director, vice president of sales, president of sales, sales director, and marketing director.

If you love selling the perfect product to consumers, working in a highly challenging and competitive workplace, and teaching like-minded individuals, becoming a sales manager is the perfect option for you. Sales managers also have some of the highest-paying jobs on the market, making it even more lucrative. Start your search for a sales manager position today.