Education and Training Bachelor's degree minimum and prior experience
Salary Median— $84,220 per year
Employment Outlook Very good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Sales managers train, direct, and supervise their sales staff. They coordinate the operation of their sales department by establishing territories, goals, and quotas for their sales workers. Reviewing market analyses helps them to determine customer needs, sales volume potential, and pricing schedules that will meet company goals.
The specific duties of sales managers vary from company to company. In general sales managers hire, train, and are responsible for the sales workers. In some large companies specialized sales training managers perform these duties. In all companies sales managers assign sales territories, or geographic regions, to selling personnel. They also evaluate the performance of the sales workers. Sales managers represent their companies at trade association conventions and meetings to promote their products. Some monitor customer preferences and direct and supervise product research and development. They may also be in charge of recommending or approving budgets for product research and development.
A company that employs a sales manager usually does so because the firm has many sales workers on its staff. In addition to employing a staff of sales workers, a company may also arrange to have its goods or services marketed by independent companies such as dealers, distributors, and jobbers. In this situation a sales manager may work closely with the sales staffs of these independent companies. Some sales managers offer direction to the sales personnel of retailers or wholesalers that market their employer's products.
The size of the company dictates the scope and responsibility of the sales manager's job. Small companies may have only one sales manager, while some very large corporations employ managers to direct each level of the sales operation. A large company may employ a general sales manager, home office and overseas sales managers, and regional sales managers.
Education and Training Requirements
Sales managers must be experienced in sales and marketing. They need knowledge of statistics and mathematics. Some employers prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree in business. Sales managers working in highly technical fields such as computer manufacturing may be required to have both a technical degree and a business degree.
Getting the Job
It takes years of accumulated experience to become a sales manager. Many prospective sales managers begin as sales workers or start out in marketing, advertising, or product management. Candidates may apply directly to the firms for which they would like to work or check Internet job banks and the classified ads for entry-level positions.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Sales managers are already at the top of their field. Some sales managers change jobs because they are offered higher salaries or more challenging work. They may advance to the position of company president or vice president.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales managers held 337,000 jobs in 2004. Employment of sales managers was expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations between 2004 and 2014. The number of products and services competing for American dollars will likely increase in coming years. As the marketplace becomes more competitive, more sales managers will be needed to ensure products find their way into the hands of customers.
Sales managers generally work long, unpredictable hours. Their work revolves around a set number of projects rather than a set number of working hours. The job can be stressful because sales managers are often confronted with problems stemming from other departments such as marketing, product development, and advertising.
Earnings and Benefits
Sales managers in 2004 earned a median annual salary of $84,220, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those in the high-tech industry made much more. Sales managers for computer systems design companies, for instance, made a median salary of $119,140 per year in 2004.
Where to Go for More Information
American Management Association
New York, NY 10019
Sales and Marketing Executives International
P.O. Box 1390
Sumas, WA 98295-1390
Benefits usually include paid vacations, health and life insurance, and retirement plans. Many companies also offer stock options to their sales managers.