How Do I Become a Sales Director?

Research what it takes to become a sales director. Learn about degree requirements, career advancement options, job growth and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Sales & Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Sales Director?

Sales directors, also known as sales managers, are responsible for managing the sales strategies of a company or organization. They evaluate the business's sales statistics, and then use the information they gather to develop a sales budget, set goals and develop a strategic plan to achieve them. This can include discounts and special pricing plans, depending on the industry and the company's needs. Sales directors also mentor lower-level sales staff and train them to maximize sales.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Business administration, concentration in marketing recommended
Key Responsibilities Designate territories for sales workers, accumulate sales data, target sales campaigns, create budgets
Certification Optional certification recommended for career advancement
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5%*
Average Salary (2015) $130,400*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Will I Have as a Sales Director?

Sales directors manage firms' sales strategies and mentor personnel. Sales directors, also called sales managers, oversee the efforts that bring firms' services or goods to consumers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most sales directors work for retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, insurance companies and finance firms (

As a sales director, you'll designate territories for sales workers, give them sales goals and oversee their training and performance. You will also look for new sales opportunities. You may accumulate sales data to gauge what consumers are buying, target sales campaigns and decide how much inventory is needed. Additionally, you'll set prices and make budgets. You may need to travel to visit your firm's other offices or to meet vendors and suppliers.

Do I Need an Education?

Many firms favor hiring college graduates with relevant work experience. You could consider earning a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration, possibly with a concentration in marketing. Courses you can expect to study in a business administration bachelor's degree program include accounting, business ethics and law, economics, information systems, marketing, statistics and finance.

You might also choose to couple Master of Business Administration with an undergraduate degree in the sciences or engineering. This may qualify you to work for a high-tech business. Additionally, you may benefit from completing an internship during college, which will help you learn more about directing sales in your chosen field.

How Might I Increase My Advancement Opportunities?

Many firms fill sales director jobs by promoting experienced workers or other types of managers. Thus, you might consider entering the work force as a sales representative, buyer or other relevant professional position.

You can bolster your promotion opportunities by taking advantage of any management training or continuing education programs offered by your employer or professional associations. If you are good at your job and possess sufficient training and experience, you could rise to the upper ranks at your firm or even launch your own company.

You might also consider getting certified to highlight your abilities and increase your advancement opportunities. Various professional associations award certification. Sales and Marketing and Executives International offers a study program leading to the Certified Sales Executive designation. The National Association of Sales Professionals also offers programs leading to certification. Additionally, the National Retail Federation Foundation awards certification in sales and retail management.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another management job that might be of interest is a position as a marketing manager. They analyze the market to determine demand for the goods and/or services that a company offers, and they use the data they collect to identify markets and develop pricing strategies. Often, they work in close coordination with sales managers. Alternatively, if you want to manage an entire business, you could consider getting a job as a food service manager. These managers oversee all operations within a restaurant or other dining establishment, handling issues ranging from staff hiring to ingredient budgets to customer service. The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma, but postsecondary education and previous experience can improve job prospects.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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