Learn About Being a Director of Sales

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

What does a sales director do?

Sales directors manage all sales efforts of the sales team, strategically plan and launch new products or services, ensure the company continues to provide excellent customer service, motivate the sales team and ensure the sales team meets expected sales targets. Specific responsibilities may vary based on the company the sales director works for and the industry of the company, but typically include:

  • Motivate and energize the sales team 

  • Create and communicate weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual sales goals and ensure C-level executives know the progress towards those goals 

  • Develop and execute strategic plans to achieve sales goals and expand the company’s customer base 

  • Prepare sales reports and sign off on their accuracy before submitting them

  • Assess the competitive landscape and institute changes to the sales program in response to competitor changes and industry standards 

  • Establish a referral network with local businesses and find opportunities to maximize value from those connections

  • Implement a sales training and orientation program to educate new hires as the company grows 

Average salary

Sales directors are typically full-time, salaried employees. Salaries for sales directors vary depending on their level of education, relevant work experience, the geographic location of the job, the size of the company and the industry of the company. Sales directors may also earn additional compensation in the form of commissions and bonuses. 

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $97,531 per year

  • Some salaries range from $40,000 – $237,000 per year.

Sales director requirements

Securing a position as a sales director may involve certain requirements depending on the industry and size of the company, including:

Education

Sales directors need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Marketing, Communications or another related field. Many companies prefer candidates who have a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) for the role of sales director.

Training

Sales directors often need a proven record of at least seven to ten years sales executive experience such as a sales executive, sales manager, sales and marketing director or another related role. Besides their prior experience, sales directors also often receive additional company training to improve their management and leadership skills, learn necessary systems and technologies, improve their communication skills, learn how to prioritize and delegate tasks, and how to motivate, encourage and provide feedback to their teams. Sales directors typically receive this additional training as part of the on-boarding process for their new role.

Certifications

While they are not needed to get a job and advance in your career, there are several certification programs available to sales directors. Certifications allow you to prove your skills and qualifications to current and potential employers. Sales directors can also earn certifications to gain additional knowledge about their responsibilities and further their career advancement opportunities. Popular certifications for sales directors include: 

  • Sales Management Association certifications: The Sales Management Association offers the Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP) and Certified Sales Operations Professional (CSOP) certifications. 

  • National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) certifications: The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) offers the Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) and Certified Professional Sales Leader (CPSL) certifications. Both the CPSP and CPSL certifications follow The 45 Day Challenge series to combine proven daily conditioning with the effective behavioral training necessary for you to become an extraordinary sales professional or sales leader. 

  • AIPMM Certified Brand Manager: The Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM) offers the certified brand manager certification. This certification teaches candidates how to optimize customer relationship management and brand equity and value. This certification is great for showing employers you are well-versed in brand management. 

  • Salesforce certification: Salesforce is one of the leading customer relationship management (CRM) platforms used by companies in various industries throughout the world. Having the Salesforce certification proves you have the experience and knowledge needed about their CRM in an executive-level role. 

  • Google certifications: Google provides several certification programs to choose from such as Google Analytics and Google AdWords certifications. A solid understanding of Google Analytics and Google AdWords is critical to performing demographic research and maximizing search engine optimization and digital advertising. These things are essential to any effective sales strategy. 

  • Certificate in Analytical Skills: Employers seeking to fill executive-level roles expect candidates to have strong analytical skills. The American Management Association (AMA) offers three certificate levels in analytical skills. 

Skills

Sales directors need a combination of several hard and soft skills to succeed in their role. Some of the most common skills required for a role as a sales director include: 

  • Communication: Communication skills involve the ability to communicate both verbally and non-verbally with active listening, observing, speaking and empathizing. Sales directors must have excellent verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills so they can maintain positive relationships with their team, properly communicate expectations, provide feedback and collaborate with internal departments and other C-level executives. 

  • Time management: Time-management skills involve the ability to balance and prioritize projects in a manner that helps you complete your work promptly while also maintaining a work-life balance. Sales directors spend most of their day multitasking and need to prioritize responsibilities and delegate tasks when necessary. 

  • Computer skills: Computer skills include a combination of typing, system and software knowledge. Sales directors must have strong computer skills as their job responsibilities include typing, using Microsoft Office and using industry and company-specific software such as Salesforce. 

  • Critical thinking and problem solving: Critical thinking and problem-solving skills refer to the ability of an individual to use knowledge, facts, data and reasoning to provide solutions to problems. Sales directors must have the ability to think quickly and respond appropriately, often in fast-paced and stressful situations. 

  • Leadership: Leadership skills are the ability of an individual to motivate, encourage and direct their staff and teams to complete job responsibilities efficiently and productively. Sales directors need to lead their teams positively and effectively. 

  • Business development skills: Business development skills involve the ability to analyze a business’ current performance and policies and identify areas of opportunity for improvement. Sales directors need to constantly analyze and improve upon current sales goals and performance to continue to grow the company’s customer base. 

Sales director work environment

Sales directors typically work full-time within an office environment. Sales directors may also spend portions of their day out on the sales floor with their teams. Sales directors typically work a standard business hour schedule Monday through Friday, but may need to have a flexible schedule including weekends and evenings depending on the needs of their business. Most sales directors are salaried employees and many work more than 40 hours per week. Many sales director positions also require travel.

How to become a sales director

Becoming a sales director requires a combination of education and relevant work experience. Many sales directors get their positions by earning promotions from supervisory or management level positions with their current employers. Here are the steps you should take to become a sales director:

  1. Earn a degree. Sales directors need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Marketing, Communications or another related field. Many companies prefer candidates who also have a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Recommended coursework includes areas related to business, marketing, statistics, finance, accounting, economics, management and business law. 

  2. Get experience. If you can complete an internship during college in your preferred industry, you should. Internships will help you gain the relevant work experience you will need to become a sales director. You will also need to get experience within the sales industry and in management roles. Many companies prefer candidates who have five to seven years’ experience in a management role and ten or more years’ experience in sales. 

  3. Prove your skills. Because many sales directors get their positions by earning promotions from their current employer, it is important to use your current role to prove your leadership and management skills. Use your role to show your ability to stay organized, complete your work, have good attendance, be a problem solver, be proactive and perform duties beyond your employer’s expectations of you.  

  4. Talk to senior-level management. It is important to express your interest in advancing into a sales director role. Talk to senior-level management about what you’ve contributed to your role and the company. You should also ask them for feedback on which skills you can improve upon to make you a stronger candidate for a sales director role. 

  5. Maintain strong relationships with colleagues. Sales directors need to maintain positive relationships with their teams so they can motivate, encourage, lead and provide feedback. Use your current role as an opportunity to show your employer your communication skills and to prove your ability to maintain positive and professional relationships with coworkers. 

  6. Get certifications. Although not required, certifications will help you prove your experience and qualifications and stand out to hiring managers. 

Sales director job description example

We are looking for a high-performing Sales Director to guide our customer acquisition and revenue growth objectives. The successful candidate will be a self-starting professional with managerial experience and a proven track record in sales. The ideal candidate will look forward to coming to work each day and motivating our team to help our customers find the shipping programs that work best for them.  We believe that a successful sales team makes connections with its customers and create long-lasting relationships. As the Director of Sales for our shipping company, you will ensure the entire team falls in line with that goal. You will manage a team of 20+ Outside Sales Associates in a thriving business-to-business marketplace.

Related careers

Skills and experience gained as a sales director often transfer to other industry-related positions and can help you advance to senior-level management positions such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Common related careers include:

  • Sales manager

  • Regional sales manager

  • Business development manager

  • Business consultant

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