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- 1 What is a Sales Manager?
- 2 Best Sales Manager Degree
- 3 Educational Requirements for Sales Professionals
- 4 Skills & Abilities Required in Sales
- 5 How to Become a Sales Manager
- 6 Employment Information & Sales Specializations
- 7 Job Growth, Salary, and Related Sales Fields
What is a Sales Manager?
Sales and Sales Manager is a field of study employing the practical application of communication, psychology, and business know-how to help an organization achieve revenue objectives. A sales manager is charged with managing a sales team, cultivating business, recruiting, training, establishing sales targets, and leadership. The sales team and sales manager are focused on growing net sales for an organization through the sale of services and products that drive business growth and expansion. In most businesses and organizations, sales staff and sales managers are incentivized through variable compensation for reaching and exceeding sales targets.
An organizations executive management team work closely with sales managers to establish a workable strategic sales plan. The sales plan for the fiscal year or fiscal quarter will include quotas, forecasts, business drivers, market conditions, product enhancements, service upgrades, profit goals, human resource management, reporting mechanisms, and consumer demand. Sales and Sales Managers are a driving force in business that are often associated with the engine of growth in both public and private entities.
Best Sales Manager Degree
College degree programs for managers entering the sales field can be earned through direct degree programs or indirect degree programs. A direct degree is a program designed specifically for sales managers while indirect programs teach a set of transferrable skills and foundational knowledge that can be utilized by sales professionals. In addition to selecting a degree, students will need to select the learning modality that works best. In other words, will it make sense to enroll in a distance learning program, classroom-based degree, or hybrid program. Online degrees in sales management can be viable alternatives to help support a busy work schedule while earning a degree. Likewise, a hybrid program provides the best of an online learning environment with scheduled times to physically meet in a classroom to share and collaborate with others. The quick summaries below represent a cross-section of popular degree programs that you may want to consider for your career.
Sales Manager Certificate Programs
Certificate programs are a clustering of highly focused courses designed to provide students with relevant knowledge and skills. A certificate in sales can be offered at the graduate or undergraduate level. Undergraduate certificates offer foundational knowledge about psychology, persuasion and analytics. Graduate certificates, on the other hand, will then to focus more on case studies, deep analysis, strategy, and high-level management tools.
Sales Manager Associate Degrees
An associate degree in sales is designed to be completed in roughly two-years. These degree programs fuse together general education courses with core classes to provide students with a well-rounded education and a set of integrative thinking skills. General education classes will include classes such as history, psychology, philosophy, English composition, sociology, and creative writing. Core classes will include a combination of business, statistics, finance, selling psychology, management, advertising, and marketing. Associate degrees will be conferred as either an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS).
Sales Manager Bachelor Degrees
Online bachelor degrees in sales management can be earned from top ranked universities in around four years. Much like an associate degree, a bachelor degree will include a combination of liberal arts classes and core curricula. By blending core classes with general education courses, students will begin to develop holistic thinking skills needed to solve complex problems and think differently about the world around them. Bachelor degree attainment recently reached an all-time high with over 33% of working adults holding such a degree. As more and more companies require a formal degree, a bachelor degree may be a viable path for your career and vocational objectives.
Educational Requirements for Sales Professionals
In terms of educational requirements, Sales and Sales Manager degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:
Skills & Abilities Required in Sales
- Speech Clarity
- Oral Expression
- Oral Comprehension
- Speech Recognition
- Reading Comprehension
- Active Listening
- Written Comprehension
How to Become a Sales Manager
According to the governments data gathered by the ONet division, over 90% of sales managers have a formal college degree. To become a sales manager, you will need a formal education coupled with substantive work experience. Experience in the field or industry will depend on the organization type, your work ethic, education, industry, and geographic location. In many cases a supervisor in sales will start within an organization as a sales representative. Examples may include a sales analyst, retail sales, wholesale sales, purchasing agents, manufacturing sales, account executive, and sales agent.
Sales professional will need to be focused on continuous improvement and learn about their product, service, and customer perpetually. This growth mindset mentality has a scientific basis to help professions continue to evolve over time and remain competitive in their given industry. Professionals will also need to possess an innate tenacity, exceptional communication skills, deep customer service knowledge, analytical skills, leadership qualities, organization skills, and mastery of time management.
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Employment Information & Sales Specializations
For students that earn a college degree in Sales and Sales Manager, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue. The options range from advertising, marketing, promotions, market research, public relations, retail sales, sales management, sales engineer, wholesale representative, manufacturing sales representative, and sales training in the public or private domain to name a few possible career tracks.
What Does a Sales Manager Do?
A sales manager is responsible for managing a group of sales people or sales teams within an organization. Job duties of a supervisor in the sales department will vary by job and industry but will likely include the following areas of responsibility:
- Setting short-term and long-term goals for sales teams and sales representatives
- Resolving a variety of customer complaints regarding service, products, and sales
- Creating a strategic customer acquisition plan including digital techniques, direct sales, referral marketing, cold calling, and B2B marketing
- Establishing appropriate sales territories, schedules, sales quotas, and milestones
- Preparing reports, budgets, and expenditures
- Analyzing data and parsing information to ensure milestones are met
- Forecasting sales numbers and associated profitability of services and products
- Establishing pricing, specials, and discounts as appropriate
- Developing, planning, and coordinating training programs for sales members
- Managing customer engagement and products to help assess sales goals
- Recruiting, training, retaining sales associated as related to demand and growth trajectory
Where Do Sales Managers Work?
Sales professionals can work in virtually any industry in any sector of the economy. Industries that tend to employ the most sales people include private management companies, auto dealerships, electronics, computer systems, and commercial equipment wholesalers. States that employ the most sales people is spread across the country with no specific geographic clustering. The table below represents the top 5 states that employ the most managers in the sales field.
- California 69,180
- Illinois 24,150
- Texas 22,310
- New York 20,170
- Georgia 15,460
Job Growth, Salary, and Related Sales Fields
Industry growth in this management position is expected to grow at a 7% clip which is on par with the national average for all jobs across all industries. In terms of jobs, this growth projection represents just under 30,000 new jobs for supervisors in the sales industry over next decade.
The job growth in the greater Sales and Sales Manager domain are well above average. For example, the rate of job growth for marketing manager is expected to rise 9% through 2024 and for market research analyst 19% growth rate is expected during the same period. Given the broad nature of the Sales and Sales Manager degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location. Related fields include teaching, research, marketing, advertising, and training.
How Much Do Sales Managers Make?
The data found from the BLS reveals the mean annual wage of a sales manager is $135,090 which is nearly three times the national average. The top 25% of managers make $168,300 a year while the bottom ten percent make just under eighty thousand dollars on an annual basis. Top paying industries for sales professionals includes the following industries: Financial Brokers & Securities, Oil & Gas, Investment Managers, Legal, and Commodities Brokers. Mean annual wages for each respective industry is listed below to provide an understanding of the compensation by sector.
- Financial Brokers & Securities $217,950
- Oil & Gas $201,310
- Investment Managers $200,250
- Legal $185,330
- Commodities Brokers $179,590
The top paying states for professionals in the sales field include New York at $196,770 a year followed by Delaware and Virginia at $178,450 and $167,280 respectively. To round out the top five, Virginia is followed by New Jersey at $157,580 and Connecticut at $155,090 for mean annual wages.
Additional Resources for Sales Managers
- The Sales Management Association (SMA)
- National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)
- Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA)
- National Sales Network (NSN)
- American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AAISP)
- Professional Sales Association (PSA)
- Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA)
- Sales Management Association (SMA)
- Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI)