How To Become a Sales Manager : Ultimate Guide

by Anwesha Sarkar
Published: Last Updated on

So you want to become a sales manager? It’s a rewarding yet challenging career path. Usually, the Sales manager’s main responsibility is to direct teams of sales reps and are responsible for achieving revenue goals.

If you’re interested in moving into management career, be prepared to put in the work. Advancing up the ladder takes strategic planning and dedication. Here’s what to expect if you’re pursuing this career move:

If you are still confused and not sure about what career to choose, our career counselors can help solve your question on How To Choose the Right Career

What Does a Sales Manager Do?

Sales managers wear many hats. Core duties include:

  • Recruiting and interviewing sales talent
  • Onboarding and training new hires
  • Setting sales quotas and tracking reps’ performance
  • Identifying areas for improvement through data analysis
  • Coaching reps on sales techniques and presentations
  • Developing promotions and incentives to motivate teams
  • Handling escalated customer complaints and issues
  • Collaborating with other departments like marketing and product development

The role requires excellent communication skills, business acumen, and the ability to lead teams through complex challenges. Patience and persistence are also musts when mentoring reps.

Skills Every Sales Manager Needs to Succeed

Sales managers wear many hats – coach, data analyst, strategist, mentor. To excel in the role, you’ll need to develop expertise in several critical skill areas:

Motivational Abilities

Having high energy and staying positive are musts. You set the tone for the entire sales team. Give recognition and celebrate wins. Rally the troops when morale is lagging.

Communication Skills

Listen closely to understand reps’ challenges and needs. Convey instructions and plans clearly so there’s no confusion. Give direct but thoughtful feedback to help reps improve.

Analytical Thinking

Dive into the data to spot trends and issues. Analyze activity metrics to identify coaching opportunities. Develop projections and forecast future performance. Sharpen your Excel skills!

Emotional Intelligence

Balance drive with empathy. Manage reps’ anxieties about quotas. Resolve conflicts diplomatically. Foster an encouraging, collaborative team culture.


In sales, you win some and you lose some. Don’t take rejections personally. Bounce back quickly from setbacks. Demonstrate confidence and persistence in the face of obstacles.


Dream up fun team competitions and incentive programs. Constantly brainstorm new ways to boost motivation and performance. Bring innovative ideas to the executive team.

Sales Manager vs Sales Executive – What’s the Difference?

Role Sales Manager Sales Executive
Main Focus Leading and managing a team of sales reps Generating new business and closing deals
Primary Responsibilities Recruiting, training, coaching, and motivating reps; setting sales quotas and goals; analyzing performance data; identifying issues and developing solutions Prospecting new accounts; conducting sales presentations and product demos; negotiating contracts; managing client accounts
Skills Needed Leadership, coaching, data analysis, problem-solving Prospecting, presenting, negotiating, relationship-building
Daily Activities Holding team meetings; providing feedback and training; reviewing reports; resolving escalated issues Making sales calls; sending proposals; meeting with clients; giving presentations
Experience Required 5+ years sales experience; management experience preferred 2+ years of full-cycle sales experience
Career Growth Promotions to Sales Director, VP of Sales, Chief Revenue Officer Promotions to Senior Sales Executive, Key Accounts Manager, Sales Manager
Salary Range* $60,000 – $150,000+ $40,000 – $100,000+

How To Become a Sales Manager  Steps To Follow

How To Become A Sales Manager

Education and Licensing Requirements

Most sales manager positions require a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communications, or a related field. Coursework in management, psychology, and data analytics helps build a strong foundation.

While not always mandatory, certification as a Sales Management Professional through the Sales Management Association demonstrates a commitment to continuing education.

Essential Sales Experience

You can expect that most sales manager jobs require at least 5 years of experience in sales roles. This time in the field allows you to gain real-world skills and insight into sales processes.

Possible entry-level positions include sales representative, account manager, purchasing agent, business development associate, and more. Seek internal promotions to add team leadership experience to your resume along the way.

Management Training Opportunities

To prepare for a sales management role, actively build your leadership skills. Take initiative and offer to mentor new reps or train team members. Ask about attending management training courses offered internally.

You can also look into short-term sales management certificate programs through local colleges and universities. These provide focused development in areas like performance coaching, recruiting, and sales forecasting.

The Transition into Management

When you’re ready to pursue sales management jobs, tailor your resume and interview answers to highlight your leadership abilities. Relevant positions to target include Sales Manager, Regional Sales Manager, District Sales Manager, and VP of Sales.

Download Free Sales Manager Career Guide PDF

Download this free career guide to know and understand the steps you have to take to become a successful Sales Manager.


Tips For Managing a Winning Sales Team

Leading a sales team is rewarding but comes with its fair share of challenges. Here are some tips for creating a high-performing team:

Know Your Team Members as Individuals

Get to know what motivates each person. Are they driven by money and competition or do they thrive on mentoring and developing clients? Use these insights to play to their strengths. Check-in regularly 1-on-1 to see how they’re doing.

Set Clear Expectations

Reps need to understand exactly what’s expected of them, whether it’s making 50 calls per day or closing 10 deals per month. Provide templates and tools to set them up for success. And explain how hitting goals ultimately supports the broader business objectives.

Coach, Don’t Criticize

Sales is a tough gig. Motivate reps through positive reinforcement when things go well. Offer constructive feedback focused on solutions when they struggle. And never criticize in front of peers – instead schedule time 1-on-1 to discuss areas of improvement.

Create Competitions and Contests

A little healthy competition can raise motivation levels across the team. Offer fun contests and reward reps when they hit milestones. Publicly recognize top performers at team meetings. Competitions keep things lively while rewarding hard work.

Get Input on Changes

When implementing new strategies, get buy-in from reps first. Explain the reasons for change and ask for input on rollout plans. Reps will embrace changes more if they’re involved in shaping the process.

Keep Skills Sharp

Sales require constant learning to keep up with the changing market. Offer regular training on new products, features, and sales techniques. Bring in experts from other departments or outside speakers to keep things fresh. Keep budgets for offsite workshops or industry conferences.

Lead by Example

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Hit the phones yourself and demonstrate persistence and energy. Celebrate wins with the team. Be the kind of leader you would want to work for yourself.


With the right mix of sales experience, training, and interview preparation, you can successfully transition into a sales management career. Stay hungry to keep developing your skills as a leader. Help your reps and company succeed, and your hard work will pay off.

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Aakanksha 27 October 2023 - 9:54 AM

Can a person can be directly become a sales manager without spending years. I know this question is little gibberish. But. If any corporate allows. Let me know please..

Avinash Chandran p 27 October 2023 - 11:22 AM

In most corporate environments, becoming a sales manager typically requires some level of experience and expertise in sales. While there is no strict rule that says you must spend a specific number of years in a sales role before becoming a manager,


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