Education and Training Requirements
If you are interested in a career as a sales manager, you should start preparing in high school by taking college preparatory classes. Because strong communication skills are important, take as many English classes as possible. Speech classes are another way to improve your communication skills. Courses in mathematics, accounting, statistics, business, marketing, advertising, economics, and computer science are also excellent choices to help you prepare for this career.
Many sales managers have a bachelor's degree in business administration, with an emphasis on marketing or sales. Useful general college classes include those in psychology, sociology, business, and economics. Managers often have graduate and professional degrees.
Most managers have worked in lower-level sales jobs, which helps them effectively coordinate the efforts of the whole sales department. Candidates for managerial positions who have extensive experience will have a competitive edge.
Other Education or Training
The Sales Management Association offers webinars, classes and workshops to help sales managers keep their skills up to date. Past offerings included "Social Strategies for Sales Leaders," "Assessing Sales Talent for Front-Line and Management Roles," and "New Product Selling: What Works." The American Management Association provides seminars and webcasts on analytical, management and supervisory, project management, leadership, communication, and finance skills. The American Marketing Association and the National Management Association also provide professional development opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
The American Marketing Association (AMA) offers sales management certification to those who score 80 percent or higher on a 100-question multiple-choice test. Contact the AMA for more information.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Work as a sales manager is not typically an entry-level position. Sales managers need one to five years' experience as sales representatives and purchasing agents before entering the field.
There are a number of personal characteristics that you will need to succeed in this career—including good communication and interpersonal skills, strong organizational skills, and the ability to delegate work to members of your staff. The ability to think on your feet and work well under pressure is also critical. Other traits considered important for sales managers are intelligence, decisiveness, intuition, creativity, strategic vision, honesty, loyalty, and a sense of responsibility.