Sales managers are responsible for managing a team of sales people by establishing sales territories, setting quotas and goals, and reporting performance results to upper management. They provide their team with the tools and training they need, analyze sales statistics to assess team performance, and monitor inventory and customer demand. They are typically given the challenge of training their team on company policies and new or innovative sales procedures.
Sales manager positions often involve challenging deadlines and aggressive performance goals. Sales managers typically work long hours and significant travel is required to visit clients, network with other sales professionals, and prospect for new business. In larger companies, a sales manager may manage regional and local sales managers and their staffs while in smaller companies, they may manage a smaller local team of sales representatives.
Sales managers come from a variety of backgrounds, including buyers, purchasing agents, advertising, and public relations. Some sales managers work their way into the position after gaining experience as a sales representative or with designing, maintaining, or delivering a particular product or service. Most successful sales managers are strong communicators who have sales and management experience. They are also adept with computers, highly organized, and analytical thinkers.
Although some sales managers have the natural talent to be successful without a college degree, a degree is often required to gain entry into the field. Employers usually prefer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing. In technical industries like computer and electronics manufacturing, a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science, combined with a master’s degree in business administration, is recommended.
Sales managers are often prime candidates for advancement to the highest ranks within a company and competition is tough for this high-profile job. College graduates with sales experience and strong communication and computer skills have the best employment possibility. Some schools, such as the University of San Francisco, offer a sales management training program, which can provide the additional sales management training and education that candidates can leverage to stand out from other applicants.
Sales management professionals are among the highest paid employees in many companies and are prime candidates for advancement although the competition is formidable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for sales managers is $98,530, with the top 25% earning more than $143,000. There were over 300,000 people employed as sales managers in 2010.
Industries with the highest levels of employment in this occupation include automobile dealers, wholesale electronics markets, professional and commercial equipment and supplies wholesalers, and computer systems design and related services.
States with the highest employment level in sales management are California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Georgia with annual mean wage between $105,000 and $164,000. The top-paying states for sales managers are New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Florida with an annual mean wage of $126,000 to $164,000.