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

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover what a sales manager does, the skills required in this role, and opportunities to help you decide whether this career is for you.

[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 do sales managers 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. 

Job satisfaction levels in sales management

Sales managers tend to be highly satisfied with their jobs, earn good salaries, and have a positive outlook for this career. Sales departments contribute directly to an organization's success; therefore, it is very easy to see how your efforts are making a difference in revenue and company growth. 

Payscale reviews from people in sales management positions reveal that in terms of job satisfaction, the sales manager’s role has a 3.8 out of 5 rating in Canada, 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.

Salaries of sales managers

Sales managers in Canada earn an average base salary of $84,887 per year, according to Glassdoor [2].  Earning potential may be influenced by factors like education level, location, company, and years of experience.

In addition, bonuses and commissions can significantly affect earnings. Sales managers typically earn higher salaries in larger companies, industries with high margins, and companies located in major cities, such as:

  • London, Ontario

  • Edmonton, Alberta

  • Vancouver, British Columbia

  • Montreal, Quebec

  • Winnipeg, Manitoba 

Sales manager job outlook

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, the job outlook for sales managers is positive in multiple areas, including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. Employment growth will lead to a moderate number of new positions being added and several positions becoming available between 2022 and 2024 [3]. 

Steady growth in this field is driven by the demand for goods and services and the need for effective sales management to optimize sales performance. With the correct skill set, you can enjoy a successful career as a sales manager, with plenty of opportunities for advancement.

What makes an effective sales manager? 

Before beginning a career as a sales manager, it’s important to consider whether you have the necessary skills and traits. The sales manager role is multifaceted, so you need a strong blend of technical skills, workplace skills, and core personal attributes.

Key personal attributes

Sales managers must be excellent communicators, leaders, and motivators. As a sales manager, you’ll need to:

  • Have competencies and gravitas to motivate and lead your team 

  • Handle stress and be comfortable with change 

  • Be driven and passionate and always looking for ways to improve results

Technical skills

By gaining technical skills and knowledge, sales managers can improve their performance and better meet the needs of their customers. Successful sales managers have a deep understanding of the sales process.

These technical skills might include:

  • Learning how to use sales software

  • Using customer relationship management (CRM) tools

  • Understanding sales data and analytics

  • 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

Sales managers must have excellent communication, interpersonal, leadership, and motivational skills. They also need to be able to sell the products or services of their company effectively. Some of the other workplace skills you need to be a good sales manager are the ability to:

  • Communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing

  • Listen carefully, with empathy, and understand what customers want and need

  • Build relationships with your sales teams and customers

  • Motivate and inspire your sales team, sometimes during periods of uncertainty

  • Provide 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

  • Multitask with strong organizational skills.

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.

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. In Ontario, 37 per cent of sales managers hold a bachelor’s degree, and 27 per cent have a college certificate or diploma [4]. Common areas of study for sales managers include business, marketing, psychology, and communications. 

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

2. Gain work experience.

It’s important to gain work experience in sales because employers typically look for sales managers with sales experience and management experience. 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.

3. Get certified or take 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. “Average Sales Manager Salary in Canada,” Accessed February 18, 2023.

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