There are approximately 433,800 sales managers in the United States. About 63 percent work in the finance; insurance; manufacturing; retail trade; professional, scientific, and technical; and wholesale trade industries.
You will first need experience in lower-level sales jobs before advancing to a managerial position. To break into a sales position, contact your college career services office for job leads. In addition, many firms advertise job listings in newspapers and on Internet job boards.
Your first few jobs in sales should give you experience in working with clients, studying the market, and following up on client service. This work will give you a good sense of the rhythm of the job and the type of work required.
Most management and top executive positions are filled by experienced lower-level workers who have displayed valuable skills, such as leadership, self-confidence, creativity, motivation, decisiveness, and flexibility. In smaller firms, advancement to a management position may come slowly, while promotions may occur more quickly in larger firms.
Advancement may be accelerated by participating in advanced training programs sponsored by industry and trade associations or by enrolling in continued education programs at local universities. These programs are sometimes paid for by the firm. Managers committed to improving their knowledge of the field and of related disciplines—especially computer information systems— will have the best opportunities for advancement.
High-performing sales managers may be promoted to executive-level positions such as vice-president of sales or chief executive officer. Some sales managers become college professors. Others advance by taking sales management positions at larger companies.
Tips for Entry
Read the Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management (https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rpss20/current) to learn more about the field.
Visit https://careers-amanet.icims.com and https://salesmanagement.org/jobs for job listings.
Talk to sales managers about their jobs. Ask them for advice on breaking into the field.