Sales Managers

Summary

sales managers image
Sales managers set sales goals, analyze data, and develop training programs for organizations’ sales representatives.
Quick Facts: Sales Managers
2015 Median Pay $113,860 per year
$54.74 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Less than 5 years
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 376,300
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 19,000

What Sales Managers Do

Sales managers direct organizations' sales teams. They set sales goals, analyze data, and develop training programs for organizations’ sales representatives.

Work Environment

Sales managers often are required to travel. Most sales managers work full time, and they often have to work additional hours on evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Sales Manager

Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree and work experience as a sales representative.

Pay

The median annual wage for sales managers was $113,860 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of sales managers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth of these managers will depend primarily on growth or contraction in the industries that employ them.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for sales managers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of sales managers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about sales managers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Sales Managers Do

Sales managers
Sales managers recruit, hire, and train new members of the sales staff.

Sales managers direct organizations' sales teams. They set sales goals, analyze data, and develop training programs for organizations’ sales representatives.

Duties

Sales managers typically do the following:

  • Resolve customer complaints regarding sales and service
  • Prepare budgets and approve expenditures
  • Monitor customer preferences to determine the focus of sales efforts
  • Analyze sales statistics
  • Project sales and determine the profitability of products and services
  • Determine discount rates or special pricing plans
  • Develop plans to acquire new customers or clients through direct sales techniques, cold calling, and business-to-business marketing visits
  • Assign sales territories and set sales quotas
  • Plan and coordinate training programs for sales staff

Sales managers’ responsibilities vary with the size of their organizations. However, most sales managers direct the distribution of goods and services by assigning sales territories, setting sales goals, and establishing training programs for the organization’s sales representatives.

Some sales managers recruit, hire, and train new members of the sales staff. For more information about sales workers, see the profiles on retail sales workers and wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives.

Sales managers advise sales representatives on ways to improve their sales performance. In large multiproduct organizations, they oversee regional and local sales managers and their staffs.

Sales managers also stay in contact with dealers and distributors. They analyze sales statistics generated from their staff to determine the sales potential and inventory requirements of products and stores and to monitor customers' preferences.

Sales managers work closely with managers from other departments in the organization. For example, the marketing department identifies new customers that the sales department can target. The relationship between these two departments is critical to helping an organization expand its client base. Sales managers also work closely with research and design departments because they know customers’ preferences, and with warehousing departments because they know inventory needs.

The following are examples of types of sales managers:

Business to business (B2B) sales managers oversee sales from one business to another. These managers may work for a manufacturer selling to a wholesaler, or a wholesaler selling to a retailer. Examples of these workers include sales managers overseeing sales of software to business firms, and sales managers overseeing wholesale food sales to grocery stores.

Business to consumer (B2C) sales managers oversee direct sales between businesses and individual consumers. These managers typically work in retail settings. Examples of these workers include sales managers of automobile dealerships and department stores.

Work Environment

Sales managers
Long hours, including evenings and weekends, are common.

Sales managers held about 376,300 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most sales managers were as follows:

Retail trade 20%
Wholesale trade 20
Manufacturing 12
Finance and insurance 9
Professional, scientific, and technical services 8

Sales managers have a lot of responsibility, and the position can be stressful. Many sales managers travel to national, regional, and local offices and to dealers’ and distributors’ offices.

Work Schedules

Most sales managers work full time. They often must work additional hours including some evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Sales Manager

Sales managers
Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree and previous work experience as a sales representative.

Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree and work experience as a sales representative.

Education

Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree, although some have a master’s degree. Educational requirements are less strict for job candidates who have significant work experience. Courses in business law, management, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, marketing, and statistics are advantageous.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Work experience is typically required for someone to become a sales manager. The preferred duration varies, but employers usually seek candidates who have at least 1 to 5 years of experience in sales.

Sales managers typically enter the occupation from other sales and related occupations, such as sales representatives or purchasing agents. In small organizations, the number of sales manager positions often is limited, so advancement for sales workers usually comes slowly. In large organizations, promotion may occur more quickly.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Sales managers must collect and interpret complex data to target the most promising geographic areas and demographic groups, and determine the most effective sales strategies.

Communication skills. Sales managers need to work with colleagues and customers, so they must be able to communicate clearly.

Customer-service skills. When helping to make a sale, sales managers must listen and respond to the customer’s needs.

Leadership skills. Sales managers must be able to evaluate how their sales staff performs and must develop strategies for meeting sales goals.

Pay

Sales Managers

Median annual wages, May 2015

Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers

$116,810

Sales managers

$113,860

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for sales managers was $113,860 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $187,200.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for sales managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Finance and insurance $148,390
Professional, scientific, and technical services 141,460
Manufacturing 118,200
Wholesale trade 117,540
Retail trade 81,180

Compensation methods for sales managers vary significantly with the type of organization and the product sold. Most employers use a combination of salary and commissions or salary plus bonuses. Commissions usually are a percentage of the value of sales, whereas bonuses may depend on individual performance, on the performance of all sales workers in the group or district, or on the organization's performance.

Most sales managers work full time. They often must work additional hours including some evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook

Sales Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers

7%

Total, all occupations

7%

Sales managers

5%

 

Employment of sales managers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth of these managers will depend primarily on growth or contraction in the industries that employ them.

An effective sales team remains crucial for profitability. As the economy grows, organizations will focus on generating new sales and will look to their sales strategy as a way to increase competitiveness.

Growth is expected to be stronger for sales managers in business-to-business sales than in business-to-consumer sales, because the rise of online shopping will reduce the need for sales calls to individual consumers.

Sales workers are some of the most important personnel in an organization. Therefore, sales managers are less likely to be let go than other types of managers, except in the case of organizations that are merging and consolidating.

Offshoring of these workers is also unlikely. Although domestic companies may hire some sales managers in foreign countries, those workers will function largely to support expansion into foreign markets rather than to replace domestic sales managers.

Job Prospects

Strong competition is expected because other managers and highly experienced professionals often seek these jobs.

Employment projections data for sales managers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Sales managers

11-2022 376,300 395,300 5 19,000 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of sales managers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2015 MEDIAN PAY
Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers plan programs to generate interest in products or services. They work with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members.

Bachelor's degree $124,850
Advertising sales agents

Advertising Sales Agents

Advertising sales agents sell advertising space to businesses and individuals. They contact potential clients, make sales presentations, and maintain client accounts.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,490
Market research analysts

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service. They help companies understand what products people want, who will buy them, and at what price.

Bachelor's degree $62,150
Retail sales workers

Retail Sales Workers

Retail sales workers include both those who sell retail merchandise, such as clothing, furniture, and automobiles, (called retail salespersons) and those who sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts (called parts salespersons). Both types of retail sales workers help customers find the products they want and process customers’ payments.

No formal educational credential $22,040
Sales engineers

Sales Engineers

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work.

Bachelor's degree $97,650
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have, and negotiate prices.

See How to Become One $59,080
Public relations managers and specialists

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Public relations managers plan and direct the creation of material that will maintain or enhance the public image of their employer or client. Fundraising managers coordinate campaigns that bring in donations for their organization.

Bachelor's degree $104,140
public relations specialists image

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals.

Bachelor's degree $56,770
Purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents

Buyers and Purchasing Agents

Buyers and purchasing agents buy products and services for organizations to use or resell. They evaluate suppliers, negotiate contracts, and review the quality of products.

Bachelor's degree $59,620
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Sales Managers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm (visited May 04, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015