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How to Become a Sales Manager

Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree and work experience as a sales representative.


Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree, although some have a master’s degree. Educational requirements are less strict for job candidates who have significant experience as a sales representative. Courses in business law, management, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, marketing, and statistics are advantageous.

Work Experience

Work experience is typically required for someone to become a sales manager. The preferred duration varies, but employers usually seek candidates who have at least 1 to 5 years of experience.

Sales managers typically enter the occupation from other sales and related occupations, such as sales representatives or purchasing agents. In small organizations, the number of sales manager positions is often limited, so advancement for sales workers usually comes slowly. In large organizations, promotion may occur more quickly.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Sales managers must collect and interpret complex data to target the most promising areas and determine the most effective sales strategies.

Communication skills. Sales managers need to work with people in other departments and with customers, so they must be able to communicate clearly.

Customer-service skills. When helping to make a sale, sales managers must listen and respond to the customer’s needs.

Managerial skills. Sales managers must be able to evaluate how sales staff perform and develop ways for struggling members to improve.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition