Campus & Student Life
CBS International Business School, 10 August 2023

What does a sales manager do? Tasks, definition, and professions


Are you thinking about pursuing a career as a sales manager and are wondering what your tasks and responsibilities will be? This is an important question. When you pursue any career, you should carefully consider what the job entails and how your career will advance - not to mention possible salary levels.


This article will provide the information you need about what sales managers do, and how the sales career path works. You will get to know the profession of sales manager, including in-depth information about their duties. And we will look at what opportunities the profession offers to move up or to further your education. By the end of the article, you should know whether sales manager jobs are right for you, or whether sales is a pathway to avoid.

Sales manager definition: What does a sales manager do?

As the name suggests, the sales manager is an employee who works in sales. They have the task of selling a product or service, are responsible for acquiring new customers, and must maintain contact with existing customers. The work of a sales manager is strongly measured by their success. A strong track record can also have a significant impact on the sales manager salary, because sales professionals usually earn commission and bonuses for good work.

But that's not all. The sales manager is also responsible for carrying out market analyses. They can be directly involved in marketing, providing directions and suggesting measures to acquire new customers. Managing sales is a very important activity and there is great demand for sales skills on the market. Contrary to conventional wisdom, a sales manager is not a management position, but a simple job title. You will usually start in a junior position, and then become a senior sales manager after three to five years. You will only make a leap into management positions when you become a Sales Director. After that, you could even make the leap into executive management as Chief Sales Officer.

What are the tasks of a sales manager? What does a sales manager do?

So what does the sales manager actually do? Sales managers are primarily responsible for selling and distributing products and services. Depending on the size of the company and the sales department, the sales manager can either focus on a single product or service, or take responsibility for a selection of products or services. In some companies, they are even responsible for managing an entire range of products and services.

The sales manager must take care of selling and marketing their product or service and deal professionally with existing customers. But they must also attract new customers to the company and achieve good figures when selling products or brokering services. If they succeed, sales professionals qualify for performance-related commissions and bonuses. This means that the sales manager has a varied task, and sometimes assumes great responsibility. Of course, they are active in sales. But they also handle distribution at the same time. They must be familiar with marketing, and be involved in creating the right campaigns to achieve corporate success. As part of this task, sales professionals are also involved in market analyses, where they work closely with other departments such as marketing and sales.

To summarise: Sales managers are responsible for selling, distributing and marketing their product or service. They must serve existing customers and acquire new customers, but at the same time carry out market analyses and look for opportunities to resell and distribute their product or service. This requires close cooperation with sales, marketing and PR as well as other departments.

What skills does a sales manager need?

A sales manager needs the soft skills to work closely with people, and the ability to negotiate intelligently. Empathy with other people is absolutely essential. They must understand the needs of others, and how to harness their expertise. This means that some competencies are very important for the sales manager. In addition to experience in the market and knowledge of their product or service, the sales manager must be open and friendly. They must be able to approach people, show empathy and be a good listener.

At the same time, sales professionals must also be able to represent their product or service. They must also be able to react to problems and diffuse difficult situations with customers. This requires strong mediation skills, as well as a lot of charisma and a good knowledge of character. Given those requirements, it’s no surprise to find that sales manager jobs are associated with high expectations, a lot of responsibility and, potentially, a great deal of stress. The sales manager must therefore also be stress-resistant and must not have a problem with high workloads.

In many cases, a sales manager is also often on the go. They must therefore be mobile and available to travel. Cooperation with other departments and marketing activities mean that sales professionals must be competent coordinators. They must be able to present their ideas and, if necessary, implement their strategies. The more experience the sales manager accumulates and the further they rise, the greater the responsibility becomes. As a sales manager resume develops, they must also manage teams of employees, oversee projects, etc. Sales is therefore a varied and complex profession that requires many skills.

How do you become a sales manager?

There is no required training or qualification for Sales Management. However, access to the profession usually requires a relevant degree on your sales manager resume. Courses such as business administration, business psychology or general management courses are particularly popular and represent good access routes.

There are therefore numerous access options, and there should be something suitable for every taste. And remember: Without a degree, you normally have very little chance of finding a job as a sales manager. That shouldn’t be surprising. We've already answered the question of what sales managers do, including a diverse range of tasks and taking great responsibility. Employers need skilled professionals who can handle the pressure. By the way, at CBS, we offer various courses of study that provide the perfect preparation for a career as a sales manager.

Relevant courses

CBS offers the following courses of study that are relevant for a career as a sales manager. Further information on the various courses of study and the required requirements and content can be found on the respective study pages.

How much does a sales manager earn?

Now you know what sales professionals do, but we haven’t looked at the financial aspects of sales manager jobs. If you are considering sales as a profession, the news is good: As a sales manager, you will generally have no financial worries.

Unfortunately, many factors play an important role in determining a sales manager salary, so general statements are not possible. Which degree you have, your professional experience, how large the company is, where you applied and where it is located, all play an important role. In principle, however, you can expect an annual salary of around 36,000 to 40,000 euros as a young professional. Top earning opportunities, if you stay in your job and advance, even range up to 140,000 euros a year or more. In addition, commissions and bonuses for successful sales will further improve the sales manager salary.

Would you like to know more about earning opportunities as a sales manager? On our Sales Manager Salary page, you can find all information about the earning opportunities in this profession and find out which factors influence the salary.

What jobs are there for sales managers

The sales manager is a generic term for people who work in sales. However, there are numerous subdivisions of this profession. In this section, we will briefly introduce them to help you make a decision. The following positions usually appear in sales management job adverts:

  • Junior Sales Manager

  • (Senior) Sales Manager

  • Sales Director

  • Chief Sales Officer

The junior sales manager is usually an entry-level position. Here you work in a team under a senior sales manager, which consists of several junior sales managers. You will learn the basics of the job and important knowledge about how the profession works. After three to five years, you can expect advancement. You will then usually become a sales manager yourself, also known as a senior sales manager in some companies. You will now be responsible for a team of sales managers yourself. In the case of a smaller company that does not have a sales team, you might also take on the tasks of sales management as the sole employee.

If you decide to stay in your job and do well, you can make the leap to Sales Director. The Sales Director is the head of the sales department. Not only do they have all sales managers under their management, but they are also responsible for developing new sales strategies and can even be involved in the development and marketing of new products and services. The highest position you can achieve in sales management is Chief Sales Officer, an employee in corporate management who is responsible for the entire sales operation.

Conclusion and summary

In this article, we have answered the question of what sales managers do. Hopefully you take away the knowledge that sales is a versatile job, offering varied activities and good earning opportunities. But good career opportunities are coupled with a high level of responsibility.

Getting started is usually only possible with a degree. When you start work, you will be responsible for selling and marketing your product or service. You will have to look after existing customers, attract new business, and constantly improve and sell your product through market analyses and campaigns. Sales can involve a lot of work with a lot of stress. But it is also a job where you interact with people a lot and can experience something new every day.

Looking for a suitable course of study in the area of sales and sales?

Have we sparked your interest in a career in sales? CBS offers you various courses of study in the sales area. You can find more information about the course and the requirements on the Sales pillar page.

CBS International Business School

CBS International Business School is a state-recognised private university of applied sciences for business. We offer accredited Bachelor's, Master's and MBA degree programmes in German and English on a full-time or part-time basis. Throughout Germany, the university is represented at three locations in Cologne, Mainz, and Potsdam.

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