Sales Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Sales managers organise a team of sales representatives and devise strategies for the team to use to maximise sales and customer loyalty.

They may work for a major distributor, such as a motor vehicle agency, national retailer or for a distributor of one or more particular products. They may be responsible for sales in a specific geographical area, nationally or even worldwide.

Sales managers are employed to sell all sorts of products and services. Depending on the company, they could, for example, be responsible for selling food products, ICT or electronics components, medicines and pharmaceuticals, vehicles or cosmetics.

A sales manager has to work with their team to sell a company's products or services to customers. Those customers may be individuals, businesses, factories or retail outlets.

The main duties of a sales manager may include:

  • Recruiting and training a team of sales representatives.
  • Devising a marketing plan and setting sales targets for their team.
  • Allocating territories (geographical areas) for each sales representative to cover.
  • Monitoring the work of the team to encourage them to meet their sales targets.
  • Advising the team on problems and motivating them.
  • Setting up incentive or bonus schemes.
  • Compiling and analysing sales figures on a computer.
  • Collecting feedback from customers and compiling market research information.
  • Writing reports on their findings for head office.
  • Giving presentations to groups of colleagues.
  • Organising sales conferences to introduce new products to sales representatives.

Although they are responsible for the overall performance of their team, sales managers may also have to follow guidelines laid down by head office and meet targets set by a national marketing or product manager.

Sales managers sometimes have to deal with major customers on a personal basis. They attend lots of meetings, conferences and trade fairs. They may also be responsible for setting up and staffing company stands at national or international trade fairs.

Sales managers usually work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but there may be some late evenings and occasional work at weekends. Most sales managers work full time, but part-time work may be available.

Sales managers normally spend more time in the office than their sales representatives and they make fewer short journeys as part of their daily routine. They maintain close contact with their team out in the field by telephone and email.

They may need to travel long distances to attend conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions, and meet clients. Overnight stays away from home and some trips abroad may be required.

A full, clean driving licence is highly advantageous and may be essential for some jobs.

Starting salaries may be around £15,000 to £30,000 a year. Most companies offer a basic salary with a bonus or commission scheme, which varies widely depending on the industry or market sector, the employer and personal experience. A car or petrol allowance and expenses are usually included in the salary package.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Sales managers can be found in all job sectors. Some of the major areas of employment include finance, manufacturing, retail, wholesale distribution and information technology.

There is a constant demand for skilled sales representatives and people capable of managing them effectively, and there are opportunities throughout the UK and overseas.

Many recruitment agencies specialise in sales, and there is a huge range of websites that advertise and recruit for sales jobs. Posts may also be advertised in magazines and newsletters relevant to particular sectors, as well as in Jobcentre Plus offices and local and regional newspapers.

Education and Training

There are no set qualifications, and many sales managers are promoted into the job after three or four years' experience in sales, and with a strong record of achievement. For more information on becoming a sales representative, see our Sales Representative Jobguide.

An increasing number of employers are recruiting applicants with higher education qualifications. Most subjects are acceptable, but a degree or an HNC/HND in a subject related to sales, marketing or business is most relevant. The minimum entry qualifications for an HND are usually one A level/two H grades and four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3). The minimum requirements for a degree are normally two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3). Equivalent qualifications may be accepted.

Technical sales managers usually know their products and markets thoroughly. This expertise and experience may be backed up with an HNC/HND or a degree in a subject relevant to the products or services they sell.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most companies provide in-house training on their products, organisation and the methods used for sales and sales administration. This could be done at head office or an external training centre.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) offers a range of part-time qualifications at colleges and training centres throughout the UK. These lead to membership of the Institute and include:

  • Certificate in Professional Sales.
  • Advanced Certificate in Professional Sales Management.
  • Advanced Certificate in Professional Key Account Management
  • Intensive Diploma in Professional Sales.

The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) offers the following relevant qualifications:

  • Level 2 NVQ/SVQ in Sales.
  • Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Sales and Marketing.
  • Level 5 Diploma in Strategic Sales (Sales Management or Key Account Management).

The Managing and Marketing Sales Association (MAMSA) also has a range of courses:

- Stage 2 Certificate in Sales Marketing
- Stage 3 Higher Diploma in Marketing
- Stage 4 Advanced Diploma in Sales Management
- Stage 5 Certificate in Marketing Strategy
- Diploma in Marketing Strategy and Management

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Sales managers should be:

  • Excellent organisers, with the ability to prioritise and allocate work.
  • Good communicators, in person, on the phone and in writing.
  • Enthusiastic, ambitious and self-motivated.
  • Knowledgeable about their products and those of their competitors.
  • Good at managing and motivating people.
  • Able to work on their own initiative.
  • Able to work calmly under pressure and meet deadlines.
  • Good at accounts and report writing.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion possibilities for sales managers depend on their sales results. Successful sales managers may be able to progress into senior management positions, such as sales director, or take responsibility for larger areas.

Many use their experience and track record to move into higher paid jobs, and managers tend to move companies or location every few years.

Some sales managers may become national account managers, working closely with large organisations and businesses, negotiating large contracts and maintaining relationships with important customers over long periods.

It may be possible to move into research and product development, particularly for sales managers in the scientific or engineering sectors.

Get Further Information

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM),
Moor Hall, Cookham, Maidenhead SL6 9QH
Tel: 01628 427500

The Institute of Sales Management (ISM),
18 King William St, London, EC4N 7BP
Tel: 020 3167 4790

Managing and Marketing Sales Association (MAMSA),
PO Box 11, Sandbach CW11 3GE
Tel: 01270 526339

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