What Does a Sales Manager Do?

Kelly Hernandez
A sales manager stands in front of her employee, who is greeting a customer.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

A sales manager is responsible for leading a team of salespeople so they can reach goals and implement sales strategies to be successful in their positions. Sales managers are some of the highest-paid sales professionals because they must have extensive sales skills and experience.

A sales manager position is different from other roles in the sales department, such as a salesperson or retail sales associate. In these roles, the salespeople are responsible for locating customers and implementing sales strategies to meet goals and get results. Sales managers are usually more behind-the-scenes and focused on coaching these salespeople and retail sales associates so they can be successful.

If you’re interested in a career in sales, your career path may eventually lead you to a job as a sales manager. It’s important to understand the experience and skills you must possess to be successful in this position, such as leadership skills and past experience as a salesperson. By finding out more about the responsibilities of a sales manager and why it’s one of the highest-paying careers in business, you can better understand if this role is right for you.

Sales Manager Responsibilities

As a sales manager, your main focus is the success of your sales team and meeting the company’s sales goals. The person in this role plays an integral part in the success of other employees and must tackle many duties and responsibilities, including the following:

  • Hire salespeople and organize the sales team.
  • Set goals and sales quotas for the sales department.
  • Create sales strategies and scripts.
  • Track sales and encourage sales team members who are falling behind.
  • Motivate the sales team to achieve goals with incentives and bonuses.
  • Create solutions for salespeople dealing with difficult customers.
  • Speak with customers to resolve service or sales complaints.
  • Implement special pricing plans and other customer incentivized proposals.
  • Assign sales territories and leads to sales staff.
  • Coordinate and implement training programs for the sales team.

The specific duties you’re assigned as a sales manager may vary based on your company’s organization. If there are several teams that must work together to achieve goals, you may also be tasked with ensuring your sales team works harmoniously with other departments, such as the service, accounting, and marketing teams.

Sales Manager Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2018, sales managers earned an average annual salary of $124,220. The salary you earn as a sales manager depends on the company you work for, your experience, and your location. The lowest-earning 10% of sales managers made less than $58,940 annually while the highest-paid 10% earned an average salary that totaled more than $208,000.

Sales managers earned the highest salaries working in the finance and insurance industries, as well as the technical, scientific, manufacturing, and professional fields. The lowest salaries for sales managers are found in the wholesale trade and retail trade industries.

It’s also important to note that the compensation you receive as a sales manager depends on how your company is organized. Some employers may offer a lower salary to their sales managers but provide the opportunity to earn high commissions. When the sales team performs well, sales managers earn a percentage of these sales, which increases their annual salaries.

Some organizations may also offer salary bonuses to sales managers when their teams meet or exceed sales goals. These compensation packages are designed to motivate sales managers to implement effective and aggressive strategies while staying invested in the performance of the sales department.

Sales Manager Job Requirements

To obtain a job as a sales manager, you must meet certain requirements related to your education, experience, and skills. The specific requirements you must possess depend on your potential employer and the industry you’re pursuing your career in. However, in most cases, you must have:

  • A high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field.
  • Advanced interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Attention to detail and organizational skills.
  • The ability to lead and organize a team.
  • Good teaching abilities and patience.
  • Creativity to implement sales strategies.
  • Customer service skills.

In addition to these skills and education requirements, you must have extensive sales experience. In most cases, you’ll start as a sales team member or representative and once you’ve displayed your leadership capabilities, you may advance to a sales manager position. Most companies prefer for a sales manager to have one to five years of experience as a sales representative or in some other capacity in the sales industry before taking on this supervisory role.

Skills and Characteristics

In addition to experience, education, and skills, there are specific personality traits and characteristics you must also possess to succeed in a career as a sales manager. Since this position focuses on leading a team, you must have the confidence to implement and enforce rules and regulations within your department. You must also possess characteristics and qualities that include the following:

  • The ability to relate and empathize with team members’ situations and issues.
  • Enthusiasm for reaching goals and motivating those around you.
  • Creative problem-solving skills that allow you to tackle customer or sales team-related conflicts.
  • The ability to remain calm in stressful or emotional situations.

A career as a sales manager may be the right fit for you if you possess strong communication skills and you enjoy creating solutions that help team members succeed.

With sales experience and a plan to achieve company sales goals, you must use coaching and motivational skills as a sales manager to ensure your team works hard and performs well. When creating your sales resume, it’s important to not only highlight your experience but also the qualities you possess as they relate to the sales manager position.

Sales Manager Job Outlook

Employment for sales managers

 is expected to grow by 5% from 2018 to 2028; 20,600 sales manager job openings are expected to be available during that time. This growth is about average when compared to other job industries.  Sales positions may be available in unique industries, which could require job candidates to already have professional experience in certain fields to be considered for employment.

Since sales teams are an integral part of the profitability, success, and growth of a company, sales managers with experience are usually in demand. Most sales companies offer both online and in-person sales, so sales managers with experience in both of these realms are more likely to find relevant job openings in the current market.

Should I Become a Sales Manager?

Your career choice is a personal decision and one that should be made based on your interests, skillset, personality, and goals. When deciding whether a career as a sales manager is right for you, it’s important to compare the salary expectations and your potential for job satisfaction. While it’s a high-paying position, you must ensure you’ll be satisfied and motivated to meet company goals and keep the sales team inspired.

As a sales manager, you’re required to hire, train, and lead a team of salespeople while focusing on company profitability. You may also need to interact with customers who have issues with the service or sales department. In this position, it’s not uncommon to also need to meet with sales team members who aren’t performing and create solutions that will help them increase sales. You must have advanced interpersonal and managerial skills and enjoy solving problems while striving toward goals and results.

Keep in mind that sales managers have many responsibilities, including the performance of their team. While the position pays well and is rewarding in many ways, it may also be stressful. If you handle pressure and stressful situations well, it may be a good career for you. To be happy in a sales manager position, you must also have a passion for sales and the desire to lead a team of salespeople to success.

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