What Is Sales Management: Definition, Scope, Objectives, Careers

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Find out what sales management is and what you'll do as a sales manager. Learn about sales management responsibilities and the use of sales management software.

[Featured image] Sales manager gives a presentation to a sales team

Sales management is supervising activities and processes relating to the effective planning, coordination, implementation, control, and evaluation of an organization's sales performance. Sales management is a core business process in most organizations. A role in sales management is typically a sales manager whose job plays a vital role in a company’s revenue generation and profits. 

Effective sales management requires a thorough understanding of the sales process and how the organization can use different techniques to drive sales. By carefully analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs), optimizing your selling approach, and enhancing your team with the right competencies and tools to succeed, you can turn your sales department into a profit-generating department.

What is sales management?

Sales management is the process of leading, motivating, and influencing people to achieve sales objectives. The sales manager manages the entire sales cycle, including forecasting and budgeting sales revenue, recruitment, selection of sales personnel, and ensuring proper training and performance evaluations are conducted.

Types of sales management

While some selling forms are about maximizing sales volume (numbers), others drive revenue through high-value accounts. Some sales jobs have a short sales cycle completed over the phone, while others have sales processes that take months or even years. Each type of sale involves different skills and activities, so finding your niche is important.

  • Business-to-consumer (B2C) sales management: B2C sales involve selling goods and services directly to consumers. B2C sales often drive leads from aggressive marketing strategies.

  • Business-to-business (B2B) sales management: B2B sales involve selling goods and services directly to other businesses. B2B sales tend to involve higher-value products with longer sales cycles.

  • Enterprise sales management: Enterprise sales involve selling complex goods or services directly to large companies. Companies that sell enterprise solutions may have multiple teams for different aspects of the sale, such as sales engineers and inside and outside sales teams.

  • Software as a service (SaaS) sales management: SaaS companies sell software or applications over the web, usually by subscription. SaaS products are often sold by an inside team that contacts potential customers by phone or email and closes the deal remotely.

Sales manager styles

Different sales manager styles benefit different situations and types of sales. Academic research frequently discusses the possibility that personality may make a person more inclined to a specific sales management or leadership style. Here are four sales manager styles.

  • Directive: The directive management style focuses on giving orders, assigning tasks, and strictly monitoring the sales team's progress. It can prove effective when you set clear expectations. It can also create a rigid environment, so you must encourage creativity and critical thinking. The military uses directive management. 

  • Participative: The participative management style is the opposite of the directive style. As a participative sales manager, you’re collaborative, focusing on achieving consensus and involving the entire team in decision-making. This encourages engagement and improves morale, but you must ensure decision-making remains fast and clarify roles and responsibilities.

  • Coaching: Coaching managers support their sales team members through every step, from prospecting to closing deals. You’ll work hard to understand each rep's strengths and weaknesses so you can provide individual support and guidance to each salesperson.

  • Supportive: A supportive manager is always there for their team members, offering advice and encouragement. As a supportive manager, you’re approachable, relatable, and friendly. If you adopt this style, you’ll need to ensure everyone is accountable for their performance and that you clearly define expectations.

Sales management responsibilities

You’re responsible for the sales team's success as a sales manager. You’ll perform different tasks, including:

  • Recruiting: You’re in charge of hiring and onboarding new salespeople as your team grows. 

  • Training: You’re responsible for ensuring your salespeople deliver the best possible customer experience and meet their sales targets. This means identifying training gaps, modelling good sales behaviours, training, coaching, and mentoring.

  • Shadowing: To get to know your salespeople and their interactions with customers, you need to be out in the field with them on calls and know how their behaviours affect their results on key performance indicators (KPIs).

  • Meetings and aligning teams with objectives: As a sales manager, you’ll facilitate communication between your sales team, support teams, and executive leadership. You’ll also set objectives and key results (KPIs) for the sales team and ensure goals are communicated clearly and hit regularly.

  • Forecasting and reporting: You need to report on sales performance while monitoring long-term growth projections. Both can inform strategic decisions about your team's and company's future direction.

  • KPI management: You need to align your entire team around key metrics so they know what day-to-day expectations are and what it takes to succeed over time. You’ll break goals down into KPIs and KPIs into model behaviours that lead to success.

Sales management objectives

A sales manager is responsible for setting long-term goals and objectives for their team. By understanding how sales objectives fit into the organization, you’ll better understand the big picture and can communicate better with senior management. Some of the main objectives of sales management include:

  • Revenue generation

  • Increased sales volume

  • Sustained profits

  • Sales department growth

  • Market leadership

  • Prospect conversions

  • Motivating the sales force

Sales management tactics that help you form a successful department

A solid sales strategy is essential for a successful sales team. Here are some sales management tactics that can help create an effective sales department.

Set realistic tactics for sales.

People typically want to achieve their best every day, but the reality is we all have good and bad days at work. When setting your team’s sales targets, ensure you include flexibility. Realistic targets should be achievable but challenging.

Find and choose your team.

Once you have set realistic team goals, find the right people for your team. You need motivated and enthusiastic people who like and appreciate your products or services. If you can find people genuinely interested in what they’re selling, your job becomes much more manageable. Good salespeople are resilient, empathic, enthusiastic, confident, and adaptable. A competency-based recruitment framework can increase the effectiveness of your recruitment process.

Educate your salespeople. 

Sales training must be a consistent part of your strategy. If you’re unsure what to train your team on, look back at the last six months of sales reports and identify trends in customer buying behaviour and objections. Analyze individual salespeople and the team’s behaviours and performance. Complete a skills gap analysis. Use this information to create new sales training to plug competency gaps, overcome customer objections, model effective behaviours, and close more deals.

Reward good performance.

Rewarding your sales team for achieving their goals is a highly effective way to motivate them. If they know you’ll compensate them for results, they’ll be more motivated to do what it takes to get them. You must understand what motivates your team members and build fair, equitable, and motivating sales incentives. Alternatively, you could ask them to pick their rewards.

Measure progress on all key metrics.

To measure progress, ensure you track all key metrics related to your team’s performance. This includes quota attainment, average deal size, close rates, average call times, and pipeline velocity. This data informs you where your salespeople need more coaching or other resources to help them succeed.

What is a sales management system?

A sales management system is normally software that facilitates effective sales workflow. It helps users manage sales, monitor performance, streamline processes, and track results. A sales management system adds predictability and forecasting capacity, ensuring your sales department's process is repeatable and measurable.

Benefits of using a sales management system

Think of a sales management system as an evolution of traditional customer relationship management (CRM). It can manage your team's sales relationship data and flow and includes pipeline management, lead generation, and workflow automation. 

Here are more details about what you can do with a sales management system.

  • A detailed view of customer history:  Access to a complete view of customer interactions, including phone call details, emails, and marketing messages. This is invaluable for improving your team's sales activity. 

  • Automated workflow and reduced admin: A sound sales management system automates repetitive tasks, like scheduling follow-up calls or sending form emails after meetings. This frees time to focus on high-priority tasks requiring human input, like negotiating with key leads or closing the most valuable deals. 

  • Analytics and reporting: A sales management system provides the visibility needed to make informed decisions. You can review past, present, and pipeline data to determine what works and where resources must be deployed to improve performance. This data can inform marketing, recruitment, training, product development, and other company facets. 

  • Data consolidation: A sales management system can combine customer data from multiple sources into one place. This allows companies to better manage their customer relationships, creating opportunities for cross-selling or upselling. Driving revenue and profit requires knowing as much about customers as possible. 

  • Improved forecasting: A sales management system provides a clear view of the past and present and insight into the future. You can use historical data to forecast trends, identify opportunities, and set goals. 

Sales management software, tools, and resources

Your team will have different needs and preferences. When you apply for jobs, you’ll see companies requiring experience with various software suites and sales and marketing stacks. Here are a few options that you might like to consider:

Tools and resourcesDescription
Zendesk SellWith Zendesk Sell, you can access all your CRM data from one centralized location, allowing you to see your sales pipeline and better manage your team. It also integrates with Google Suite, Gmail, Outlook, and Slack.
HubSpotHubSpot tracks your sales activity and also helps you build your marketing plan. This gives you insight into which marketing content converts customers, so you can use that information to boost your sales efforts.
SalesforceSalesforce is among the world’s most popular CRMs, with over 150,000 customers and offices across 28 countries. It's an industry standard for a reason. It's robust, can manage a large sales team, and is flexible for handling small-business needs.
CopperCopper's CRM is designed specifically for the G Suite, so it integrates with Gmail, Sheets, Calendar, and other Google apps. The software also provides workflow automation and other features that can help you save time managing your team.
PipedrivePipedrive is another popular CRM option for small businesses. It provides easy pipeline management with a drag-and-drop interface, customizable dashboards, email integration with Gmail or Office 365, reporting tools, and more.
NutshellNutshell is another CRM with a drag-and-drop interface for visualizing your pipeline. It also includes sales reporting tools, built-in call tracking, email marketing automation, and more.
NimbleNimble is a sales CRM tool specializing in social media integration. It automatically pulls data from popular social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Foursquare, and Gmail, so you have your customer data in one place.
InsightlyInsightly is another cloud-based CRM tool that provides a range of features designed to help you organize and manage your contacts, leads, and opportunities. It’s also packed with reporting tools to monitor your team’s performance in real-time.

Careers in sales management

Many jobs involve managing sales. The roles and job titles can vary greatly depending on the industry, organization size, and location. Here’s a list of some sales management roles with the average annual Canadian salary you may expect to earn:

  • Sales manager: $84,810 [1]

  • Business development manager: $89,954 [2]

  • Sales coordinator: $48,911 [3]

  • Sales director: $150,756 [4]

  • SaaS sales manager: $83,353 [5]  

  • Regional sales manager: $117,029 [6]

  • National sales manager: $128,433 [7]

  • Executive sales director: $96,473 [8]

  • Director of business development: $123,783 [9]

  • Director of sales: $149,385 [10]

  • Vice president of sales: $189,298 [11]

  • Inbound sales manager: $53,767 [12]

  • Telesales manager: $52,705 [13]

  • Channel sales manager: $135,220[14]

  • Account growth manager: $73,027 [15]

  • IT sales manager: $83,353[16]

  • E-commerce sales manager: $83,353 [17]

Want to improve your sales management competencies?

You need a rounded skill set to be a sales manager. You can learn much about sales through online courses and demonstrate competency through professional certificates, specializations, and certifications.

Consider Yale’s Introduction to Negotiation: A Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator on Coursera. If you want to build skills you can teach your sales team, this may be an excellent place to enhance your personal sales tool kit.

You might also consider a course that enhances your resume in a specific area. For example, GitLab’s How to Manage a Remote Team course can help you demonstrate competencies that’ll set you apart from other remote sales management job candidates.

Article sources


Glassdoor. "Sales Manager Salaries in Canada, https://www.glassdoor.ca/Salaries/canada-sales-manager-salary-SRCH_IL.0,6_IN3_KO7,20.htm." Accessed May 24, 2024.

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