Sales managers (sometimes called ‘account managers’) are responsible for a team of sales representatives (‘reps’) that sell a particular product or type of product. They may also work with a certain type of customer, like business to business sales, or as an area manager for sales across a set area or sales patch.
This blog is based on a profile in Unifrog's Careers library, a tool where students can learn about hundreds of careers, and how they fit into the world of work. The above video is sponsored by Edmundson Electrical Limited (EEL). We chatted to Keiron Dear, Account Manager, about his experience of working in this role.
What you'll do as a sales manager
Your day-to-day duties could include recruiting and training sales staff, developing sales strategies and setting sales targets, monitoring the team’s performance and motivating them to reach targets, compiling and analysing sales figures, and keeping up to date with products and competitors.
In some jobs you might also handle major customer accounts, or be involved with marketing as well as sales.
"The best part of this role is being the person people look to to get something done. It’s really rewarding to work with the customers to resolve any issues and make sure that they can operate effectively."
Working hours and environment
You’ll usually work standard office hours, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, although travelling to visit customers and your sales team may often make your working day longer.
You may also need to attend conferences, trade fairs, and exhibitions, which could involve working in the evening and at weekends.
Career path and progression
With experience and a good track record, you could take on larger sales areas or be promoted to regional or national sales manager.
“This is definitely a challenging industry but the right type of person can have a lot of success. My background has very little to do with electrical wholesaling but having a willingness to learn on the job has allowed me to progress very quickly."
You’ll need excellent communication and ‘people skills’, and the ability to sell goods or services. You’ll also need excellent IT, budget, and negotiation skills.
"As an Account Manager, you have to rely on other people quite a lot. Even if something is a priority to you, it may not be a priority to them which can be quite frustrating. To manage this however, you quickly learn that the customers just want to be kept in the loop as much as possible which helps them to understand the situation at these times."
You’ll need proven experience in sales, with a good record of achieving targets. You could gain this experience by seeking an entry-level role as a sales assistant, where your duties might include serving and advising customers, arranging goods on display, replacing stock, and meeting sales targets.
Once you reach management level, most employers will consider your sales and management experience, market knowledge, and track record to be more important than your academic qualifications.
You may need a degree for some jobs that involve selling hi-tech scientific or engineering equipment, or a second language for sales jobs that involve travelling around the world to meet customers.
Labour Market Information (LMI)
Here’s some data on sales manager jobs in the UK and USA as of 2023. On the actual Careers library profile there is lots more LMI.
UK (for sales, marketing and related associate professionals)
USA (for sales managers)
Average yearly salary
11.9% more jobs (2017-2027)
7% more jobs (2020-2030)
Want to see the full version of this Career profile, and explore hundreds more? Log into Unifrog and visit the Careers library, or request a demo here.