Sales Managers

Career, Salary and Education Information

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a sales manager with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Sales Manager Jobs

  • Technical District Sales Manager Portland - Vishay - Portland, OR

    Provide timely reports as requested by management - monthly narratives, sales reconciliation, on demand, etc. * Support of selling cost budgets and capital expenditures as defined by management .

  • Sales Manager - Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants and Elastomers (CASE) Ohio Valley - Univar Solutions - Cincinnati, OH

    As a Sales Manager for Univar Solutions' Coatings, Adhesives, Sealants, & Elastomers (CASE) Focused Industry you will be responsible for directing the activities of a team of Sales Account Managers ...

  • Local Sales Manager - Ad Sales - Spectrum - Traverse City, MI

    Client Reference Code: 246741 Local Sales Manager - Ad Sales Spectrum Reach is looking for a dynamic sales leader to manage and drive revenue in our Traverse City, MI local media market. Spectrum ...

See all Sales Manager jobs

What Sales Managers Do[About this section] [To Top]

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

Duties of Sales Managers

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.

Work Environment for Sales Managers[About this section] [To Top]

Sales managers hold about 385,500 jobs. The largest employers of sales managers are as follows:

Wholesale trade 20%
Retail trade 18
Manufacturing 12
Professional, scientific, and technical services 10
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.

Sales Manager Work Schedules

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

How to Become a Sales Manager[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Sales Managers near you!

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

Find a Degree:

Education for Sales Managers

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 for Sales Managers

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.

Important Qualities for Sales Managers

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

Communication skills. Sales managers need to work with colleagues and 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.

Sales Manager Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for sales managers is $117,960. 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 $55,790, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

The median annual wages for sales managers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Finance and insurance $151,030
Professional, scientific, and technical services 141,320
Manufacturing 122,610
Wholesale trade 119,900
Retail trade 85,770

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 for Sales Managers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of sales managers is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, 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 for Sales Managers

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

Employment projections data for Sales Managers, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Sales managers 385,500 413,900 7 28,400

*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

Explore more careers: View all Careers or Browse Careers by Category

Search for jobs: