How to Become a Sales Manager

How to Become a Sales Manager: Career Path Guide

Like many careers, there are many different paths you can take if you want to become a sales manager. The best path however, is to have an education in business, combined with a few years worth of progressive experience in sales. 


This work would involve assessing market potential, developing and implementing sales plans, establishing and assigning sales territories and ensuring key accounts are satisfied.


This field also offers diverse opportunities for advancement, great pay, the opportunity to make a lot of professional contacts, and the opportunity to use your strategic, management and analytical abilities.


If becoming a sales manager sounds like it might suit you, then read on below; we’ll fill you in on the details, such as how you can get into this profession, how much you could earn, and of course, what you’d be doing once you get there.



Education You May Need

Many employers favour sales manager applicants with a diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, sales, advertising or other similar fields. If you’re planing to work in a technically specialized industry, such as IT or pharmaceutical sales, you may be expected to have a degree in a relevant field.




Experience You Will Need

It’s desirable to have at least five years of previous sales experience, preferably in roles of progressive responsibility. However, sales management candidates with fewer years in the field but a history proven results are often considered to be just as, if not more qualified.


Success Tip: Most employers prefer to hire sales manager candidates that have a combination of relevant experience and education.



Who Creates Jobs for Sales Managers?

As a sales manager, you could be employed by almost any type of private and public organizations that sells a product or service, such as:


• Manufacturers

• Retailers

• Wholesalers

• Service sector businesses

• Non-profit agencies (for example: charities) 

• Not-for-profit agencies (for example: sports leagues and trade organizations)

• Market research organizations

• Sales, marketing and management consultancies



Is This Career Right for You?

You should have the following attributes if you wish to become a sales manager:


• Leadership, motivational and decision making skills

• Tact, diplomacy and communications skills

• You’re well organized and punctual

• You have, or are willing to get, extensive sales training

• The initiative to develop and maintain key industry relationships

• You’re willing to work long and irregular hours if necessary

• You’re comfortable using the appropriate software and related digital tools

• You're willing to be accountable for the performance of sales staff and the success of sales plans



Career Advancement Possibilities 

If you display competence and dedication as a sales manger, career advancement opportunities will open themselves up to you. Examples of career advancement opportunities that could present themselves include (but aren’t limited to):


• An increase in earnings through higher salary, commissions or bonuses

• Becoming a regional or district sales manager

• Becoming a part owner of the firm/company/agency

• Moving into an executive leadership position with a large organization

• Starting your own sales, marketing, advertising or management consulting firm


Success Tip: Having post-secondary education related to business or sales can be of great value in advancing your career.






Details of the Career: General Job Description

As a sales manager, you would be responsible for directing the distribution of a product or service to the consumer. You would accomplish this by establishing sales territories, quotas and goals, and by training and overseeing the sales representatives for those territories.


Your job would also involve analyzing sales statistics gathered by staff in order to determine further sales potential and associated inventory requirements, and to monitor the preferences of customers.



Typical Job Duties

Although your specific duties could vary from job to job, you could expect to be responsible for the following functions in any sales manager role:


• Preparing budgets and approving expenditures

• Monitoring customer preferences in order to focus sales efforts

• Developing sales targets and implementing strategies to help achieve them

• Determining price points and discount rates

• Attending trade shows as a company representative in order to promote products or services

• Sourcing potential customers and meeting with them regarding their needs

• Overseeing local and regional sales managers and their staff

• Assessing the marketing potential of both new and existing company retail locations

• Calling on key accounts to ensure they are satisfied with the product or service as well as the customer service they are receiving



Salary Level of Sales Managers

The salary level you could earn as a sales manager can vary greatly, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (having relevant education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties and functions

• The type of remuneration package you are offered (such as if you are entitled to bonuses, sales commissions or partial company/firm ownership) 


Sales Manager Salary in Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadians working in the Sales, Marketing and Advertising Managers occupational group is $85,800 per year.


Salary in the United Kingdom: According to the National Careers Service, experienced Sales Managers can earn between £25,000 and £55,000 per year, with top salaries being over £70,000 a year.


Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of Americans working in the Sales Managers occupational group is $113,860 per year.



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Work Environment in this Career

Working Hours: As a sales manager, you'd likely work regular, weekday working hours, such as 9-5. On occasion you might find yourself going in to work early, staying late, or going in on weekends in order to complete tasks and projects, or to attend meetings, exhibitions, conferences, trade shows, or similar work-related events.


Work Setting: Your work would be based out of an office, but you would often travel to attend meetings, trade shows, etc., or to visit your company’s local, regional, national, and international offices, or branches.


Working Conditions: You would spend some amount of your time communicating via phone, email or in person with subordinate sales representatives and coordinators, as well as executive management and other staff. Some of your time would also be spent analyzing data, and developing strategies and sales targets. Your work would be very rewarding when you accomplish goals, but very stressful when you don’t. 



Careers Similar to ‘Sales Manager’

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as Sales Manager:


Marketing Director

• Purchasing Manager

• Retail Manager

• Retail Sales Associate

• Sales & Marketing Director

• Sales Consultant

• Sales Representative



References for this Guide

The following resources were drawn from in the preparation of this How to Become a Sales Manager career guide:


Occupations in Alberta: Corporate Sales Managers.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Management:Sales Managers.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Explore Careers:Sales Manager.” (n.d.). National Careers Service website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Sales Manager 

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a sales manager. You can search for scholarships matched to that/those fields of study on the following pages:


Any Field of Study Scholarships

Management Scholarships

Marketing Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Sales Manager: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or necessary) for becoming a Sales Manager. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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