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How to Become a Sales Manager

If you’re enthusiastic about sales and are looking for a leadership position, then you could be the perfect fit for a sales manager. Sales managers lead the sales staff by overseeing the daily operations in their department. To be an ideal candidate for this position, people should have experience in implementing sales strategies and promoting good customer service. 

Sales managers are primarily responsible for developing business plans that will best help the sales department succeed in making sales. Some of your duties include planning meetings, setting sales targets, overseeing the performance of sales teams, working with marketing on leads, and motivating employees to perform better. 

It is important for sales managers to be approachable and friendly, to help the team feel comfortable coming up with concerns and sharing new ideas. When sales managers create good relationships with their staff, they are able to better direct the team to meet the company’s goals and objectives. If this sounds like you, this would be a rewarding career.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is searching for a qualified sales manager to head our sales department. This position requires excellent leadership skills, the ability to negotiate, and the initiative to generate new business leads. You will be responsible for managing our team of sales representatives, using your skills and knowledge to inspire them to success, and hiring new representatives to maintain a high-performing team. If you excel at building relationships and closing deals, you’re exactly the kind of person we’re looking for. Experience with the sales process is a must.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Set sales goals and evaluate performance based on those goals
  • Assess sales processes and procedures and implement appropriate changes
  • Develop individual sales quotas and assign sales territories
  • Compile and submit sales forecasts
  • Coach and provide feedback to sales team members

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communications, or a related field, as well as a few years of experience in sales.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Proven leadership skills, especially relating to coaching and motivating
  • Experience forecasting sales and setting sales goals
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite or similar software, including spreadsheets and databases
  • Strong sense of organization and time management

Preferred qualifications

  • Demonstrated ability to recruit, hire, and coach sales representatives to success
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule to meet the business needs, including holidays, evenings and weekend shifts

Typical work environment

Sales managers will typically have an office where they can complete their work behind a desk. But this position also often requires extensive travel to different offices and to meet with dealers and distributors.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a sales manager are from 9 AM to 5 PM. They sometimes have to work additional hours or on weekends.

Available certifications

Becoming a certified sales manager sets you apart from the rest of the pack when searching for employment. Show your expertise in sales by considering one of the following certification programs:

  • APACSMA Certified Sales Manager. This 12 week certification course consists of 20 lecture modules that range from business and sales fundamentals to essential skills for managers. It promises to teach you how to build an effective sales team, identify tools for sales operations, and execute sales strategies. It even goes into boardroom communication skills and helps you to build your personal sales leadership profile. 
  • AMA Sales Management Certification. The Sales Management Certification is a PCM certification that focuses on the business of managing sales. By taking this 100 question exam, you certify your knowledge in the areas of selling, customer relationships, marketing strategies, organizing a sales force, and more. There are no eligibility requirements to take the exam but it’s recommended you have some post-secondary education or prior experience in sales before attempting to take the exam. This certification requires renewal every 3 years.
  • Sales Growth Cornell Certificate Program. This 100% online course spans 3 months and is instructor-led. Through completing this course, you will gain skills in discovering growth opportunities, winning key accounts, managing sales performance growth, and more. If you are hoping to learn how to maximize your time selling, this certification program is a great choice.

Career path

The position requires a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communications, or a related field. Generally, sales managers need a proven track record in sales. Coursework in sales, business, marketing, accounting, communications, leadership, and related subjects can be attractive to potential employers. Successful sales managers can often move up to supervising larger sales teams or leading sales for an entire geographic area. From there, sales managers can then become sales directors, eventually moving into executive roles.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-2022

2020 Employment397,900
Projected Employment in 2030425,800
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 7% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift27,900 Increase

According to the lead routing software company VanillaSoft, one trend sales managers should be aware of in the coming years is the increased use of social media for selling. Many companies are using social media platforms as an added touchpoint between Sales representatives and their clients. Another trend some analysts see affecting sales is customers’ desire for authenticity. More customers are looking for genuine, personal exchange and relationships with salespeople who actively listen to the customers’ needs and offer solutions. This mindset is in stark contrast to the standard one-size-fits-all, transactional sales model of the past.