What is a Sales Manager?

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Taken as a collective industry, sales represents one of the largest pieces of the American economy. A career in sales can be very lucrative, but it also represents a much more diverse range of employment than many people realize. Central to the smooth streamlining of this industry is the sales manager, an individual whose responsibilities are both varied and substantial, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This expert professional may be responsible for interacting with the public, organizing logistics from the supplier to the customer, ensuring compliance with local, state and federal regulations, or setting up new offices around the country.

So, what are the overall features of the sales management profession?

General Description of a Sales Manager

Broadly speaking, a sales manager is responsible for training, leading and coaching a group of individuals in a sales capacity. They make work for a particular retailer or wholesale company, or be employed in a third-party sales and marketing firm, or be an independent consultant (or otherwise self-employed). Of course, the administrative side of things isn’t the whole story: many sales management professionals continue to function as salespeople for their employer. In the course of training their staff, they wind up performing many of the vital roles mentioned above. Once a staff is trained, a good sales manager continues to provide support as needed, frequently due to the high-capacity workload of a busy sales department.

Sales Managers Usually Work on Commission

Many companies offer a relatively low base salary for a sales manager. It may represent little more, or even less than, what the individual members of their team can expect to earn. The sales manager makes a commission on every sale made by their team, however, and will typically receive a bonus based upon their team’s overall performance. Bonuses may be paid quarterly, biannually, or annually. This provides direct incentive for the sales manager to train and lead their team efficiently, and to provide effective coaching as necessary to bolster individuals who are experiencing performance issues.

Sales Managers Benefit from Upward Mobility

Generally speaking, a sales manager is at the middle management level in a company, unless they are working for an extremely small business or other enterprise. Most companies will field more than one sales team; these teams are frequently encouraged to compete for a variety of sales goals (and associated incentives). The manager of a high-performance sales team is a highly qualified candidate for advancement, often to a position overseeing multiple teams, allowing them to expand their successful strategies to improve the overall performance of their company’s sales department. Down the road a ways, an effective sales manager with the right educational credentials is a solid candidate for executive-level promotion.

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Highly qualified graduate degree programs include a master’s degree in marketing, business management, business administration or communications, in addition to similarly advanced degrees in sales; some management professionals have degrees in law, psychology or statistical analysis instead. A Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field may also mark one as a good candidate for a sales management position; this is a typical level of educational prerequisite, but individuals with graduate-level qualifications are most likely to benefit from subsequent promotion.

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