What does it take to move from a sales position to a sales management position? Is it just another step in one’s sales career or is there more involved? Well, becoming a sales manager can not only be extremely challenging but equally rewarding as you work with sales professionals and help them reach their full potential. The ability to manage sales requires strong leadership skills, the ability to incentivize performance in others and meet the company’s forecasted sales objectives and goals.
Companies rely upon their sales managers to make things happen. While sales professionals are the front line soldiers, the sales manager is the field general. It’s an easy argument to make that without successful sales, a company will never reach its full potential. Even the best products can be made to fail if the customers buying them aren’t satisfied with how they are being serviced. Sales managers must be able to train the sales team on the most relevant customer management practices, manage the customer service department and ensure cohesive efforts between them and the sales people.
The sales manager must have intricate knowledge of the company’s products & services and be able to impart that knowledge onto others. Most importantly, they must be able to achieve results and help subordinates achieve their peak performance. In this vein, sales managers must be able to manage the entire sales team’s efforts and ensure each member of that team has clearly defined goals and objectives. The best sales managers never directly interfere with their sales people’s efforts. Instead, they provide security and support only in times of need. Overall, sales managers are the ultimate in business development and are tasked with the responsibility of increasing revenue and growing gross profit.
It really is quite difficult to put a cap or number on a sales manager’s earning potential. Because they are responsible for business development and sales growth, their positions are heavily laden with incentives. This makes their compensation plan substantial and their opportunities for advancement quite significant. However, to provide an example of their earnings, here are some salary expectations for the most common sales manager positions. According to Payscale.com, someone holding the position of Regional Sales Manager, should expect to earn anywhere from $67,351.00 to $120,478.00 annually. National Sales Managers earn anywhere from $67,074 to $125,519.00 annually. Almost all positions include a base salary, a commission & bonus structure build around the performance of the sales team and profit sharing.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Sales managers must be proactive, resourceful and have the ability to grow business and increase gross profit. As such, they must have a keen awareness of market based information and pricing, and use that information to maximize sell prices and gross profit. This involves disseminating information about the market’s key customers, its competitors and the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Using this market based information is paramount to the sales manager’s success to drive results and increase business. Ultimately sales managers are counted on to grow sales. In this capacity they may be called upon to provide training, role playing and direction to subordinates. In addition, their career opportunities are significant because they are relied upon so much for business development. They have plenty of opportunities to move up to higher level positions and advance their careers. Many sales managers move to vice president positions in sales and marketing.
Perhaps the most important aspect of being a sales manager is that they are often the least likely to lose their employment in difficult times. Because companies rely heavily on sales, and more so in a bad economy, the sales manager is often retained. While this is not a hard and fast rule, it is generally accepted that companies look elsewhere before reducing their sales force.
Training and Education Requirements
The most important part of a sales manager’s training and education is the field experience they garner from direct sales efforts. While field experience is important, most employers insist on a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree of Business Administration as a prerequisite to holding a management title. This degree provides insight into marketing, accounting & finance, economics and essential business management practices.
Most companies have internal certifications for their sales team and managers. A number of them have steps and career paths laid out to allow sales managers the opportunity to grow within the company. However, there are some internationally recognized sales courses and approaches including the Sandler Sales Institute & Karrass Institute. Both of these institutions provide in-depth sales coaching, role playing, consulting, abilities assessment, leadership training and most importantly, the insight and tools to excel in negotiation. An effective sales manager is one that can use role playing and role reversals to teach sales people the subtle approaches of negotiation and sales success.
There are a myriad of professional sales associations and groups for sales managers to join. Most are segmented into specific industries and markets. The most common and recognized professional sales associations are summarized below.
- Association of Professional Sales Women
- American Marketing Association
- Direct Selling Association
- National Association of Sales Professionals
- Professional Society of Sales & Marketing Training
- Strategic Account Management Association
- The Sales Management Association
Most popular business careers:
- Business Administration
- Business Manager
- Claims Adjuster
- Human Resources
- Project Manager
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