Learn About Being a Sales Manager

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 manager do?

A sales manager is responsible for building and leading a team of strong sales associates that will assist them in reaching sales goals. In addition to improving sales, sales managers also use their leadership skills to strengthen and encourage their team. Sales managers are involved with every aspect of the sales process, which could include the following responsibilities:

  • Recruiting, hiring and training sales team members

  • Monitoring sales objectives and evaluating progress toward company goals

  • Evaluating customer satisfaction rates and developing plans to improve ratings

  • Planning, creating and delivering sales reports to upper management

  • Mentoring and coaching team members to improve sales skills

Average salary

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $79,857 per year

  • Some salaries range from $44,699 to $126,842 per year.

Sales manager requirements

Sales managers lead their teams with strong leadership skills. You can begin to strengthen these skills by fulfilling common education requirements and obtaining relevant certifications.

Education

Although a college degree is not always required to become a sales manager, a bachelor’s degree can make you a more appealing candidate. Relevant coursework in areas such as finance, accounting, statistics and marketing can help you excel in this role. Some sales managers may even choose to pursue a master’s degree in marketing or finance.

Training

Sales managers often start in a sales position. Prior experience does not necessarily have to come from the same industry. Sales managers may have professional backgrounds as real estate agents, retail associates, wholesale representatives, purchasing agents or similar roles. 

While some sales managers apply to job openings at different companies, many others work their way up from an entry-level position in their current industry. The speed at which you can advance may also depend on the organization’s size. Larger companies often have many sales manager positions, whereas smaller organizations will usually have a more limited number of roles.

Certifications

Certification is not typically a requirement as a sales manager, but the completion of specific certifications can increase your chances of getting a job and successfully negotiating for a higher salary. Some beneficial sales manager certifications include:

Certified Inside Sales Professional

The CISP certification is helpful for sales managers who primarily work with inside sales or sales that are handled remotely. The process requires completing an 8- to 12-week class and the completion of a simulated sales call exam. You will need to renew your certification after three years, which involves completing five continuing education credits.

Certified Professional Sales Person

The CPSP certification is available through the National Association of Sales Professionals. The certification improves your sales skills by teaching you professional techniques to overcome common sales challenges and increase your numbers. To earn the certification, you will need to complete a six-week course and successfully pass the exam. You will need to recertify after two years.

Certified Sales Leadership Professional

The NASP also offers the CSLP certification. It is ideal for company presidents, vice presidents, managers and other sales professionals looking to move into a leadership role. The certification requires the completion of the provided course and exam. To maintain this certification, you will need to complete 30 hours of continuing education every three years.

HubSpot Inbound Sales certification

The HubSpot inbound sales certification is a good choice for sales managers who work with HubSpot. The free course will prepare you for the required exam by teaching you the essential skills involved in obtaining and maintaining relationships with clients. You can retake the exam to maintain this certification after two years. 

Skills

While the underlying goal of a sales manager is to increase sales, they are also responsible for strengthening their team, projecting future sales goals and overcoming team challenges. Developed communication and leadership skills are also crucial in this role. Some beneficial skills for a sales manager include:

Communication

Sales managers work with both team members and customers. To be successful in this role, you will need strong people skills.

Customer service

Sales managers are responsible for managing problems for customers and team members and improving a customer’s experience. Strong customer service skills will help the sales manager understand concerns, mediate conflict and close a sale.

Leadership

One of the major roles of the sales manager is to develop and lead their sales team. Leadership and teamwork skills will help a sales manager keep their team motivated and successful.

Analysis

Sales managers also need analytical skills to evaluate and report sales numbers. These skills are crucial in projecting buying trends, which can help lead to an overall increase in sales. Additionally, sales managers must communicate sales expectations and numbers to management.

Problem-solving

ales managers regularly use problem-solving skills to identify team and sales challenges. Sales managers will often need to use these skills to solve problems for customers and find solutions for issues that could affect sales goals.

Sales manager work environment

The typical workday for a sales manager will vary daily. One day might be spent coaching new sales team members, while another might involve analyzing sales reports and projecting the next quarter’s sales. The industry in which a sales manager works may also affect their work environment. Sales managers work in many fields, including retail, real estate, finance, insurance, manufacturing and wholesale. Some amount of travel may be required if you manage sales team members across different districts or areas.

How to become a sales manager

A sales manager will often benefit from industry-related experience. Previous management experience is also useful in this role. While there is no specific path required to become a sales manager, you can work toward this position with the following steps:

1. Complete your education.

Education is not always a requirement, but it can be a great way to stand out among other applicants. Related courses include business, finance, accounting and sales. Seeking a sales certification can also be useful for developing necessary sales skills. If you plan to obtain an advanced role in the future, a bachelor’s or master’s degree will be especially helpful.

2. Gain experience in an entry-level role.

Gaining experience in an entry-level sales role will help you strengthen your communication and customer service skills. Starting in a position like this will also allow you to test out sales methods and improve your sales skills. As you become more comfortable in your role, accept more responsibilities and assist other sales team members when possible.

3. Improve sales performance.

Evaluate which approaches help you produce more sales, and use them to increase your overall numbers. You can also help team members who may be struggling or need advice to excel in their position. By improving your performance and guiding others on your team, you can demonstrate your advanced sales skills and prove that you are ready for a leadership role.

4. Apply for sales manager positions.

Once you have earned industry experience and developed your sales-related skills, you can begin applying for sales manager positions. Inquire about any openings in your current role or seek open sales manager positions with other companies. You can demonstrate your expertise in sales and leadership with your cover letter and resume.

Sales manager job description example

We are looking for a qualified sales manager to lead our new sales team. The sales manager will hire, train and guide new team members to reach departmental sales goals. The ideal candidate will have previous experience in the wholesale industry as well as a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Experience in budgeting and reporting is required. Prior management experience is also recommended.

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