Dynamic, goal-oriented people who love building a team and coaching others can enjoy an engaging and lucrative career in sales management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the median annual salary for a sales manager is $121,060. The BLS also projects the field to grow at a rate of 7 percent between 2016 and 2026, consistent with the national rate of growth for all occupations.

What do sales managers do to earn their salary?

A sales manager recruits the sales team, coaches individual members, onboards new sales people, and scales training so the team performs in an effective, disciplined way. Unlike an individual sales professional, a sales manager’s primary responsibility is not communication with prospects and buyers. Instead, the role centers on equipping and leading a team by establishing sales targets, conducting data analysis, and providing ongoing training.

Sales managers can step into a sales or customer support role from time to time by helping resolve complaints and staying in touch with dealers. Depending on the size of the employer, a sales manager may oversee several regional sales managers who in turn lead teams of individual sales representatives.

What education and experience are necessary to be a sales manager?

Most sales managers are seasoned and successful sales representatives who hold a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Being a profitable sales team member, however, is not enough to secure a management role. You must possess a talent for team leadership, deep understanding of strategic management, and well-honed communication skills.

In a shrinking world, companies often expect sales managers to lead cross-cultural teams, sometimes located on multiple continents and governed by distinctly different legal systems. When considering a degree in business administration, select a program with a strong curriculum emphasis on management, especially negotiation, business law, and sales management.

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How much is a sales manager’s salary?

The BLS’ median annual salary estimate of $121,060 only tells part of the story. Sales managers’ wages can fluctuate from $55,000 to more than $200,000 per year depending on various factors, including industry, location, commission, and experience.

  • Industry: The top-paying industry for sales managers is finance and insurance, where you can earn an average of $152,590 annually. The next top-paying industry is scientific and technological services. Bringing up the rear of sales manager salaries is the retail trade where the average sales manager earns $89,380.
  • Location: While you can enter a sales management career in any state, job growth and salaries vary by location. California, Texas, and other high-population states offer the most jobs, but states like Massachusetts and Connecticut maintain high percentages of sales representatives. The state offering the highest sales manager salary is New York followed by Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey, and Colorado.
  • Commission: A sales manager’s salary is typically two parts: base pay and commission. According to Payscale.com, commissions range from $3,000 per year to almost $85,000. Each company structures commission differently. Sales professionals usually have a rich mix of commission and bonuses in their compensation packages. Hence, a top-performing salesperson may earn more overall than a manager. As a manager, you can receive a base salary plus a small commission based on the performance of each salesperson under your direction.
  • Experience: Perhaps the highest impact variable, experience can radically increase a sales manager’s salary over time. Professionals who remain in the career for more than 10 years often see a steep increase in their overall compensation. Plus, if you have experience as a sales manager, you may be eligible for promotion to sales director, vice president of sales, or national sales director.

The first step to earning a lucrative sales manager salary is earning a bachelor’s in business administration. St. Ambrose University offers a 120-credit online bachelor’s in business administration that students can complete in as little as 18 months. Students with credits for transfer and those who have served in the U.S. military can take advantage of generous policies that help make the degree more affordable. Ready to get started on the journey to a challenging, exciting career with a six-figure sales manager salary? Contact St. Ambrose University today!