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Sales Manager: Leading the Team and Driving Sales


Sales managers are the charismatic, analytical experts who know that selling products  is simple. But bringing the necessary elements together to make it happen can be complex. So, they use their managerial skills and insider know-how to motivate their team and deliver consistent customer satisfaction.   

Job Description

Sales managers typically have 1 to 5 years’ sales experience. Their responsibilities are varied.

Sales and customer service - Negotiate discounted sales prices for major accounts and forecast monthly, quarterly and annual revenue streams. Plan and implement established goals to ensures consistent, profitable growth in sales revenues. Monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and identifies objectives, strategies and plans of action to affect short and long-term sales and earnings.

Advertising, promotion and publicity - Collaborates with staff members to develop strategies to improve market share in all product lines.

Buying and planning – Set realistic sales goals. Manages a product line or specific geographic area to maximize revenues in accordance with corporate guidelines. Maintains inventory and handles procurement.

Human resources – Select and direct team members. Assists sales team with establishing contact with key decision-makers. Conducts training sessions and educates staff about the latest products, customer service, store maintenance and loss prevention.    

Sales managers work 40 hours. Some overtime work (evenings and weekends) may be required.     


Sales managers are expected to have associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in business-related fields. However, some managers have worked their way up the retail ladder based on a history of excellent sales performance. Additionally, non-business degrees, e.g. art, history or biology are also acceptable.


Most large retailers like Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, etc. have formal training programs consisting of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Instruction can last up to 12 weeks.

However, smaller retailers may not have formal training programs. Highly motivated sales managers should enroll in retail seminars, join professional associations and find a mentor.

Retail Management Success, dmsretail.com offers a host of programs including workshops and courses. Sales managers should read, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful” by Marshall Goldsmith and “The New Rules of Retail” by Robin Lewis and Michael Dart.

Relevant Skills

Keanne Ambush is the assistant manager at Marmi, a shoe retailer in Atlanta, Ga. She has decades of retailing experience. She said, “Sales managers must have passion.” Additionally, they must be calm under pressure, mature, organized and decisive. Physical stamina is required to stand for long periods of time.


In 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the median pay for sales managers was $50.60 per hour or $105,260 annually. Industries with the highest levels of employment were management companies - 28,350, automobile dealers - 22,720, wholesale electronics market -15,620 and department stores - 9,270.  Medical and dental benefits and 401(k) are included.

Career Path/Advancement

Ambush said, “My experience was different than the average person’s. I started with a small family-owned company.” Since then, she has worked on projects for Oprah Winfrey and the wives of NBA players. She attributes her success with “Being at the right place at the right time.” A willingness to relocate can also contribute to advancement.

Sources of Jobs

Sales managers’ positions can be found through Web sites, retail trade publications and job postings by the Human Resources Department. Executive placement recruiters also have openings for sales managers.    

Job Outlook

In 2012, the top paying states for sales managers were New York - $174,210, Delaware -$162,060 and Massachusetts - $139,000. In 2010, there were 342,100 jobs. Sales managers’ positions will grow at a rate of 12 percent through 2010 – 2020.  

TAGS: retail, career, jobs, work in retail,
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