Selling a product or service is a core goal and essential task of all businesses. Even if a company has a superior product offered at a great price and promoted with a vigorous marketing campaign, without sales, all those efforts will have been in vain, and the company will not make a profit. Becoming a sales manager means overseeing all aspects of the sales staff and sales campaigns.
Entry-level sales positions can be obtained with no more than a high school diploma, but sales managers, who supervise sales personnel and departments, typically hold the minimum of a bachelor’s degree in business administration or relevant field.
Sales managers in advanced industries such as electronics or pharmaceuticals might be required to possess advanced degrees, such as a master’s degree or an MBA (Master of Business Administration). Representatives of pharmaceutical companies, for instance, must understand the chemistry, clinical studies, side effects and potential drug interactions of their product, among other detailed data, as they promote these pharmaceuticals to highly-educated and experienced doctors. The electronics, engineering, law, health and finance industries often follow this policy.
Sales staff can be found in many lines of work, including retail, wholesale, advertising, technology and medicine. The numerous responsibilities of a sales manager expand far beyond simply making sales. The typical job duties of a sales manager can include:
While sales managers in smaller companies might meet directly with clients and potential customers, sales department managers in larger companies and corporations rarely go on sales calls or enter the field. They spend their time in organizational and strategic tasks such as overseeing the sales staff, assigning sales territories, setting sales goals and creating training programs for sales representatives.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that in 2004, about 337,000 people were employed as sales managers. Most of these individuals were employed in wholesale and retail sales, although a significant number were found in the finance and insurance industries. The Department projects that sales manager positions will grow faster than the average for all occupations well into the next decade, although competition for these high-paying positions is expected to be high.
Figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the median sales manager salary in 2004 was over $84,000. This figure can vary widely depending on the industry and the size and sales of the company, as well as on the sale manager’s education, experience, bonus structure and territory.