What could my career as a sales manager look like?

A sales manager leads and coaches a team of sales professionals, motivating and guiding them to increase contracts and revenue and even working directly with customers in escalated or high-profile cases. This career path attracts students who are naturally persuasive and enjoy providing consumers with creative solutions. A marketing degree can prepare individuals for these positions across a range of sectors.

Sales managers drive monthly, quarterly and annual sales goal completion, creating initiatives to boost sales during seasonal highs and finding ways to combat lows as well as attract new audiences. They use research and analysis to identify prospective new customer personas and determine demand for new and potential products and services. Sales managers can often gain higher-level roles in a company or organization by delivering strong results, such as improved quarterly earnings from new business. 

An online Bachelor of Science in Marketing can provide a grounding in sales and marketing strategies, communication skills and an understanding of consumer behavior. This allows students to envision and carry out tactics and promotions designed to draw audience attention and encourage customer conversion. Graduates who hold a bachelor’s in marketing can seek sales career opportunities in a range of industries, such as consumer goods, professional services, health care, technology and more.

A sales manager reviews graphs with his team.

What does a sales manager do?

Sales manager job descriptions are increasingly shifting as digital purchasing platforms overtake certain aspects of the sales process. Sales professionals are seeing their job responsibilities include customer service as many online shoppers transition from requiring assistance at the time of sale to requesting assistance before and after they make purchases. This applies beyond simple retail sales to complex business-to-business deals as well. Sales manager responsibilities normally include directing and coordinating all aspects of the sales process, from the moment marketing results in a potential customer to arranging delivery of goods or services and providing maintenance information if required.

Other sales managerial duties include collaborating with various departments, such as research and development or manufacturing. This information sharing can alert sales managers to potential stalls in order fulfillment, allowing them to pre-emptively address such issues with customers or prospects and set achievable expectations. Additionally, coordinating with marketing teams helps to ensure sales processes fulfill advertising promises.

“Sales managers are responsible for the oversight of people within their given area. Usually, it’s defined on a regional or product basis,” says Doug Olsen, associate chair of the Marketing Department for the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “They often interact with marketing to help them understand what the people on the front lines are seeing — what competitive intelligence they’re gleaning.”

Sales managers may also meet consumer needs for information and education via support for available products or services. With digital sales rapidly encroaching on the traditional methodologies, “hard-sell” tactics are giving way to a more informational approach. Instead of telling customers to simply purchase a product, the focus is on uncovering a problem the consumer has and explaining how the product or service provides a solution – and how the solution improves the consumer’s life.

While striving toward these goals, a sales manager may perform any or all of the following tasks during an average workday:

  • Provide pre-sales support by creating materials for digital and field sales professionals to use when confronted with customer inquiries, as well as update existing customer-facing assets with current price and delivery guarantees
  • Develop and oversee sales campaigns in conjunction with the marketing team to launch a new product or take advantage of a seasonal or holiday opportunity
  • Determine which products or services are not meeting expectations or potential and refine accordingly
  • Devise plans to boost sales through retargeting
  • Coordinate with manufacturers and vendors

Overall, a sales manager focuses on building customer relationships, resolving issues and creating positive sales experiences, turning generated interest into long-term revenue.

A closer look at the professional landscape of a sales manager

Sales managers are in demand across multiple sectors, but their responsibilities are shifting. As digital sales and inbound strategies continue to gain prominence, hiring managers look for applicants with online experience to complement outbound knowledge.

Remote management of sales personnel has also shown more prevalence as the workforce diversifies and telecommuting or in-the-field sales positions expand, prompting growing importance for verbal and written communication skills. Candidates who hold a bachelor’s in marketing and have experience working on digital sales platforms are likely to see more opportunities along their career paths.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected employment of sales managers will grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the national average for all occupations. The median salary for a sales manager ranged from $57,590 among the lowest 10 percent of earners to $208,000 among the highest 10 percent in 2017. Salary can also vary based on industry, company and geographic location. The number of new job openings between 2016 and 2026 is projected to be around 28,900.

A sales manager leads a meeting.

How to become a sales manager

Students interested in a sales manager career can benefit from pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. The associated sales and marketing knowledge combined with experience in a related role can position graduates to qualify for these jobs. Hiring agents typically seek these sales manager skills:

  • Sales and marketing strategy with an emphasis on outbound and inbound tactics
  • Administration and management, especially in regard to leadership techniques, personnel and resource coordination, and budget allocation 
  • Communications and media with flexibility across traditional and social platforms to support customer inquiries and close sales
    Knowledge of sales enablement and customer relationship management software, such as Salesforce and HubSpot CRM
  • Recruitment and coaching expertise to build teams, develop staff and retain workers

Learn more about your potential career as a sales manager

The ASU Online Bachelor of Science in Marketing is designed to help students seeking roles in advertising, sales and marketing gain the skills required for the field through courses that cover personal selling, consumer behavior and more.

Various businesses require sales managers who have a keen ability to close deals while strategizing for future offerings. Aspiring professionals who earn a bachelor’s degree in marketing can gain relevant expertise for this role. Paired with related work experience, graduates can lead sales departments to achieve their goals as they provide the right solutions to the right customers.

Sources:

ASU Online – Online Bachelor of Science in Marketing Program 
Occupational Overview Handbook for Sales Managers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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