Sales Manager Career Guide: Duties, Pay + How to Become One

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover more about what a sales manager does, the skills required, and job opportunities.

[Featured image] A sales manager is sitting at her desk in front of her desktop computer.

Sales managers oversee sales teams to ensure they meet their sales targets. People in this role are integral to helping organizations meet their overall business goals by guiding sales reps toward success.

Keep reading to learn more about sales managers, what they do, and how much they earn. Ultimately, you'll also discover what you need to do to become a sales manager and explore suggested courses to gain job-relevant skills today.

What does a sales manager do?

As a sales manager, you're responsible for the overall management and performance of a company's sales team. Depending on what you find in a job search, a sales manager job description might include the following duties:

  • Setting sales targets

  • Coaching sales representatives to meet sales targets

  • Developing and implementing sales strategies

  • Managing customer relationships

  • Overseeing the sales process from start to finish

  • Hiring, training, and motivating the sales team

  • Developing and implementing promotional campaigns to boost sales

  • Monitoring sales performance and motivating and incentivizing staff to meet targets

  • Analyzing market trends and identifying new business opportunities

  • Negotiating contracts with customers and suppliers

Types of sales managers

Sales management is a diverse career field, with different roles tailored to the needs of different industries. Let's explore a few examples:

Regional sales manager: oversees sales operations in a specific geographical region.

Inside sales manager: oversees a sales team that connects with customers remotely (phone calls, email, or web communication).

Enterprise sales manager: oversees a team's efforts to serve large corporate clients.

E-commerce sales manager: oversees a team's online and digital sales efforts.


Where do sales managers work?

Your work environment as a sales manager depends on what you’re selling, your industry, whether you’re selling business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), the company you work for, and how your team is structured. In today's business landscape, with many companies going fully remote or adopting a hybrid setup, you may find a variety of settings. Here are some industry-specific examples:

  • In retail, sales managers and teams may operate on store premises to assist customers, manage inventory, and close sales.

  • In health care and pharmaceuticals, sales managers may oversee sales teams from a central office location or remotely, while sales reps may visit medical facilities in person.

  • In technology, you may find that sales managers oversee sales teams remotely by using different sales software and digital communication tools.

For some sales management jobs, you may spend time in the field at client sites, networking events, trade shows, or conventions. 

Read more: Getting a Remote Sales Job: Your 2024 Guide

Job satisfaction levels in sales management

Payscale reviews from people in sales management positions reveal that in terms of job satisfaction, the sales manager’s role has a 3.9 out of 5 rating, which scores as "highly satisfied" [1]. Sales manager jobs require a unique blend of people skills, business knowledge, and creativity. They provide an opportunity to make a significant impact on the success of a company. 

If you have high-quality sales and management skills and enjoy working in a fast-paced, challenging environment, then a career in sales management could be very satisfying for you.


Sales manager salary

Sales managers earn a median salary of $130,600, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) [2]. Base salary levels for sales managers are affected by many factors, including the company's size and industry. Sales managers typically earn higher salaries in larger companies and industries with high margins.

Your location can also determine your salary, as well. Consider these city-based salary averages reported on Glassdoor as of December 2023:

  • San Fransisco, CA: $150,000

  • New York, NY: $141,000  

  • Denver, CO: $121,000

  • Trenton, NJ: $112,000

In addition, bonuses and commissions can significantly affect earnings.

Sales manager job outlook

According to BLS, the job outlook for sales managers is positive, with an expected growth rate of 4 percent between 2022 and 2032, which is as fast as average [2]. BLS predicts that this growth will be driven by economic growth, increasing online sales, and emphasis on customer service in brick-and-mortar stores.

With the right skill set, you can enjoy a successful career as a sales manager, with plenty of opportunities for advancement.

How to become a sales manager

To become a sales manager, you typically need several years of experience in sales and strong leadership and management skills. Various courses and certifications can also help you develop the skills to help you succeed in sales management. To begin your sales manager career journey, follow these steps:

1. Consider a degree.

You won’t find one definitive educational path to becoming a sales manager, but many employers prefer sales applicants to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Sixty-three percent of sales managers hold a bachelor’s degree, and 16 percent have an associate degree, according to Zippia [3]. Common areas of study for sales managers include business, marketing, communications, and management. 

In addition to formal education, many sales managers receive training through on-the-job or professional development courses.

2. Gain work experience.

It’s important to gain experience in sales and management to be effective in this role. You’ll find many ways to gain sales experience, such as working in retail, sales-focused customer service roles, or telemarketing. The amount of experience you need varies based on the employer, but typically, candidates for sales management positions will have several years of sales experience. A standard route to sales manager jobs is to start in a sales role and then advance within the company, taking on more team leadership and management responsibilities as you grow your career.

Read more: 6 Entry-Level Sales Jobs + How to Get One

3. Hone your skills.

The sales manager role is multifaceted, so you'll need a strong blend of technical skills, workplace skills, and core personal attributes. To improve your performance and better meet the needs of customers, consider honing these skills:

Technical sales skills

  • Using sales software and CRMs

  • Understanding sales data and analytics

  • Understanding your company's unique sales process

  • Improving your ability to give sales presentations

  • Creating effective sales plans and tracking progress

  • Leading and mentoring teams through execution

Sales managers are also knowledgeable about the products or services their company sells and can answer questions from potential customers.

Workplace skills

  • Excellent communication, both verbally and in writing

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Leadership

  • The ability to encourage and motivate others, including during periods of uncertainty

  • Listening carefully, with empathy, and understanding what customers want and need

  • Building relationships with your sales teams and customers.

  • Providing sales staff with the training, materials, and resources they need to succeed

  • Have strong organizational skills to keep track of customer orders and manage your sales team

  • Multitasking

Key personal attributes

In addition to excellent leadership, motivation, and communication skills, you'll need to be able to handle stress and be comfortable with change, while looking for ways to improve results.


4. Consider getting certified or taking a course.

While certifications are not necessary to apply for most sales management jobs, they could give you an edge. You’ll discover many certifications available, including:

Consider courses, specializations, and Professional Certificates to give your resume more depth. These can demonstrate your commitment to your career and that you have proactively pursued opportunities to expand your skill set.

Enhance your sales skills on Coursera

Employers value managers with experience in sales, customer service, and people management. To help you build the necessary skills, consider taking a cost-effective online course through Coursera.

In HubSpot's Sales Training for High Performing Teams Specialization, you'll gain a new perspective on what it's like to be a sales job seeker, individual contributor, manager, and executive.

In GitLab's How to Manage a Remote Team, you'll learn and apply remote work best practices, build your remote work policy, and prepare your team for success.

Article sources


Payscale. “Sales Manager Salary,” Accessed December 15, 2023.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.