The career of a sales manager is lucrative. It has the potential for higher earning opportunities as well as fast advancement to the C-suite positions.
If you are a sales rep who wants to climb the career ladder or a college graduate who dreams of becoming a sales manager, then you might be wondering what it takes to succeed in this role.
What does a sales manager do, exactly? How do you become one? What degree do you need? What skills do you need to master? What are some challenges you will be facing in a sales manager’s role?
In this blog article, we will answer all these questions and more. We will simplify the role of a sales manager and show you the path to success in sales. By the end of this article, you will have a clear idea of what a sales manager is, what they do, what skills you need to become a sales manager, and how you can become one.
So let’s start with the most basic query.
What is a sales manager?
Simply put, a sales manager is a leader who oversees a team of salespeople.
They are responsible for setting sales goals, developing sales strategies, training and coaching sales staff, monitoring sales performance, and reporting sales results to the leadership.
A sales manager may also need to sell products or services themselves, depending on the size and structure of the organization.
In some cases, sales managers actively indulge in the hiring process for the sales department.
A sales manager’s role is crucial for the success of any business. They are the ones who motivate, guide and inspire their team to achieve sales targets and provide customer satisfaction.
They are also the ones who troubleshoot sales-related problems, resolve conflicts, and handle complaints.
So, in short, a sales manager is a problem-solver, a strategist, and a mentor.
What is a sales manager job description?
A sales manager job description summarizes the main duties and responsibilities of a sales manager, who leads and motivates a team of salespeople to achieve the company’s sales goals and customer satisfaction.
A sales manager job description also outlines the skills and qualifications required for this role.
You might have already come across one of these sales manager job descriptions while scrolling through LinkedIn, or Monster Jobs.
This usually looks like this.
What does a sales manager do?
A sales manager is responsible for the sales growth of a business. Essentially, they are the ones who take care of the revenue part of the business.
Their ability to analyze data, interpret market trends, and develop innovative approaches is vital for driving sales growth and maintaining a competitive edge in the market.
Here are the key responsibilities typically associated with the role of a sales manager:
Setting Sales Targets and Goals
A sales manager establishes clear and achievable sales team targets that align with the company’s revenue objectives and growth strategies for a financial year.
They break down these goals into individual quotas and guide their team to work towards meeting or exceeding them.
Sales managers formulate and implement sales strategies that outline how the team will approach markets, segments, and clients.
They chalk up the ideal customer profile to sell, analyze market trends, optimize sales cycle stages, and adjust strategies to capitalize on emerging opportunities or address challenges.
Team Leadership and Management
They provide guidance, coaching, motivation, and mentorship to help team members develop effective selling techniques, product knowledge, and customer relationship management skills.
Performance Monitoring and Evaluation
Sales managers track individual and team performance metrics, such as sales volume, conversion rates, number of meetings booked, win rate, and customer satisfaction, providing constructive feedback and implementing improvement plans as needed.
Sales Training and Development
Sales managers organize training sessions and workshops to enhance the skills and knowledge of their team. This can include product training, sales techniques, negotiation skills, customer service best practices, and more.
Hiring Sales Talents
In some organizations, along with HR, sales managers actively take part in the hiring process for sales talents.
This is generally done to assess the candidate’s personal capabilities and teamwork abilities. In sales teamwork is the ultimate game, so sales managers hire the best talent for their sales teams.
A sales manager plays an important role in sales management and hence you must understand a bit about sales management. We will cover it in detail in a separate blog.
What is sales management?
Sales management is the process of leading and directing a sales team to achieve sales objectives.
It involves creating strategies, setting goals, and providing guidance to sales team members to help them meet those goals.
Sales management is a core business process in most organizations, and it is crucial for driving sales growth and maintaining a competitive edge in the market.
Effective sales management requires a thorough understanding of the sales process and how different techniques can drive sales.
By carefully analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs), optimizing your selling approach, and enhancing your team with the right competencies and tools to succeed, you can turn your sales department into a profit-generating department
How to become a sales manager?
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for becoming a sales manager.
Different organizations may have different requirements and expectations for this role and job description. However, there are some common steps that you can follow to increase your chances of landing a sales manager position. These are:
#1 Gain sales experience
The first step to becoming a sales manager is to gain some sales experience.
Most sales managers start their careers as sales reps, where they learn the basic skills of selling, such as prospecting, qualifying, presenting, negotiating, closing, and following up.
Sales experience will help you develop the skills and knowledge that you will need as a sales manager, such as product knowledge, customer service, communication, and persuasion.
It will also help you build a network of contacts and a track record of sales achievements that you can showcase to potential employers.
#2 Get a degree or certification
The next step to becoming a sales manager is to get a degree or certification that is relevant to the field of sales.
While a degree is not always required, it can give you an edge over other candidates and demonstrate your commitment and professionalism in the job market.
An MBA degree in business, marketing, management, or a related field can provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge that you will need as a sales manager, such as sales management, marketing, finance, accounting, economics, and statistics.
Alternatively, you can get a certification from a reputable organization, such as the Sales Management Association, the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, or the National Association of Sales Professionals.
A certification can validate your skills and competencies as a sales manager and show your potential employers that you are up to date with the latest trends and best practices in sales.
#3 Seek mentorship and feedback
The third step to becoming a sales manager is to seek mentorship and feedback from someone who is already in this role.
A mentor can be your current or former sales manager, a colleague, a friend, or a sales coach.
They can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, set realistic and achievable goals, and plan your career development.
#4 Apply for a sales manager position
The final step to becoming a sales manager is to apply for a sales manager position directly.
You can also use your network of contacts to find out about sales manager opportunities in your industry or region.
If you are a sales rep or an account executive, you may also apply internally to your organization through promotion.
Here’s one step-by-step detailed guide for you Roadmap for Promotion from SDR to Sales Manager
When you apply for a sales manager position, make sure to tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific sales manager job description and requirements.
Highlight your sales achievements, skills, and qualifications that are relevant to the sales manager job description. Also, prepare well for the interview, where you will have to demonstrate your sales knowledge, leadership potential, and personality fit.
What degree do you need to be a sales manager?
As mentioned earlier, a degree is not always required to be a sales manager.
However, having a degree can give you a competitive advantage and open up more opportunities for you.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common degrees for sales managers are:
- Bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing, management, or a related field
- Master’s degree in business administration, marketing, management, or a related field
- Doctoral degree in business administration, marketing, management, or a related field
A degree in one of these fields can equip you with the knowledge and skills that you will need as a sales manager.
If you are outside the US, having a degree in business, marketing, or related fields can help you land a sales manager role coupled with some years of experience in sales.
However, if you lack adequate years of experience in sales, getting an MBA degree with a specialization in Marketing or Business is the fastest route to a sales manager role.
Please note that the requirements can vary depending on the industry and the specific company. It’s always a good idea to research the specific requirements for the job you’re interested in.
What skills do you need to be a sales manager?
Sales managers possess some key skill sets that make them unique for their position.
These skills can be divided into two categories: hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are the technical and specific skills that you need to perform your sales tasks and duties. E.g., Software know-how (Salesforce training), Customer Relationship management etc.
Soft skills are the interpersonal and general skills that you need to work effectively with others and adapt to different situations. E.g., Communication, leadership, etc.
Here are the 5 key skills that a sales manager possesses:
#1 Sales skills
To become a sales manager, you need to have excellent sales-related skills, such as prospecting, qualifying, presenting, negotiating, closing, and following up.
You need to be able to sell products or services yourself, as well as train and coach your sales team to do the same.
You also need to be able to use sales tools and technologies, such as CRM, email, phone, social media, and video conferencing, to communicate and interact with customers and prospects.
#2 Leadership skills
As a sales manager, you need to have strong leadership skills, such as vision, direction, motivation, delegation, and empowerment.
You need to be able to set clear and realistic sales goals, design effective and efficient sales strategies, allocate and manage sales resources, and monitor and evaluate sales performance.
You also need to be able to inspire, guide, and support your sales team, as well as resolve conflicts and handle complaints.
#3 Communication skills
As a sales manager, you need to have outstanding communication skills, such as listening, speaking, writing, and presenting.
You need to be able to communicate clearly and persuasively with customers, prospects, team members, and the leadership team.
Also, you need to be able to provide constructive feedback, deliver sales reports, and make sales presentations.
#4 Analytical skills
As a sales manager, you need to have sharp analytical skills, such as data analysis, data interpretation, and data visualization.
You need to be able to collect, organize, analyze, and interpret sales data and information, using various methods and tools, such as Excel, PowerBi, Salesforce, charts, graphs, and dashboards.
You also need to be able to draw conclusions and make predictions based on sales data and information and use them to improve sales performance and decision-making.
#5 Problem-solving skills
As a sales manager, you need to have effective problem-solving skills, such as identification, analysis, evaluation, and resolution. You need to be able to identify bottlenecks in the sales process, think outside the box when your team is making no progress, and approach problems strategically.
Compensation of sales managers: a global perspective
Let’s delve into the latest compensation details for sales managers across various industries and regions.
In the United States, the average salary for an International Sales Manager is $91,029 per year. The base salary ranges from $56k to $147k, with additional earnings from bonuses ($3k – $40k), profit sharing ($596 – $15k), and commission ($3k – $41k)1.
These figures can vary based on factors such as the industry, the specific role, and the individual’s level of experience and performance.
Among the different industries around the world, the tech industry offers the highest compensation to sales managers.
According to 2023 data from Bett’s Recruiting, senior-level sales managers in tech earn a salary between $140,000 and $200,000 annually. When factoring in commission potential, those numbers increased to $280,000 and $400,00 for total on-target earnings.
Experience plays a significant role in determining a sales manager’s compensation.
An entry-level International Sales Manager with less than 1 year of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $60,000. On the other hand, an early career International Sales Manager with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $66,245.
While these figures provide a general idea of what sales managers earn, it’s important to note that actual compensation can vary widely. Factors such as the company’s size, the industry, the specific role, and the individual’s level of experience and performance all play a part.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to research the specific requirements for the job you’re interested in.
What are some common challenges sales managers face?
A sales manager wears multiple hats and has to manage sales functions, reps, and strategies.
Here are some of the top challenges sales managers face, with some insight on how to deal with them:
Transitioning from Rep to Sales Manager
Many sales reps aspire to become sales managers at some point in their careers.
When they do, many professionals find the transition is not as easy as anticipated.
Making the jump from a sales rep to a manager completely changes your role. It’s no longer just about making the sale. You need to take a step back and let your reps handle sales.
Avoid the temptation to jump in and help. You need to run a team, be a coach, motivate others, and manage the sales process from a completely new perspective.
Sales managers are often in a position where they have so much to do and so little time to accomplish it.
Sales is a fast-paced environment and for some, it can be a bit overwhelming dealing with all the tasks they need to accomplish each day, week, month, and year.
You need to hit your sales numbers, improve the performance of sales reps, provide training, deal with day-to-day administrative tasks, and much more.
Managing a Diverse Team
Sales teams are often made up of individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.
As a sales manager, it’s important to understand each team member’s motivations and incentive structures.
Also, you need to be able to communicate effectively with each team member, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and provide them with the support they need to succeed.
Motivating A Sales Team
Sales is a competitive industry, and rejections often kill the energy of sales reps.
As a sales manager, one of your challenges is to keep your team motivated, and cheerful so that they can perform better.
Keeping Up with Industry Trends
Consumer tastes and preferences are changing rapidly. So is the way sales process.
Latest technologies, software, product releases, competitor analysis – a sales manager has to take care of it all. As a sales manager, it’s important to stay up-to-date with industry trends, technologies, and best practices.
Attend conferences, read industry publications, and network with other sales professionals.
Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Sales managers need to balance short-term and long-term goals.
While it’s important to meet your sales targets for the quarter, it’s also important to think about the long-term success of your team. This means investing in your team’s development, providing ongoing training, and creating a culture of continuous improvement.
How is the work environment of a sales manager?
The work environment of a sales manager is dynamic and diverse. It typically is a combination of office-based tasks, field activities, and interactions with both their sales team and clients.
Sales managers may work in a variety of industries, including retail, wholesale, manufacturing, software, and services.
The work environment can be fast-paced, competitive, and stressful at times. Sales managers are responsible for meeting sales targets, managing their team’s performance, and keeping up with industry trends and changes.
They may also face pressure from upper management to deliver results and maintain profitability.
However, the work environment of a sales manager can also be rewarding, challenging, and exciting. Sales managers have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people, develop their leadership and communication skills, and make a significant impact on their organization’s success.
They can also earn a competitive salary, receive bonuses and commissions, and enjoy flexible work arrangements.
Too Long, Didn’t Read(TL;DR)
In this blog post, we have discussed what a sales manager does, how to become one, what qualifications you need, and what skills you need to master.
Here are the key takeaways from this post:
- A sales manager is responsible for leading a team of sales representatives to achieve revenue and sales goals for a company or organization.
- Sales management is the process of leading and directing a sales team to achieve sales objectives.
- To become a sales manager, you need to gain sales experience, get a degree or certification, seek mentorship and feedback, and apply for a sales manager position.
- Generally, a specific degree is not required for becoming a sales manager. However, having an MBA degree in business, marketing, management, or a related field can provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge that you will need as a sales manager.
- The work environment of a sales manager is competitive, fast-paced, and diverse. They have the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people, develop their leadership and communication skills, and make a significant impact on their organization’s success.
- Some of the most common challenges a sales manager faces are – Transitioning from Rep to Sales Manager, Time management, Managing a diverse team, motivating sales teams, keeping up with the latest industry trends, etc.
- Sales managers need to have excellent sales skills, strong leadership skills, outstanding communication skills, sharp analytical skills, and effective problem-solving skills.