You can explore this career by developing your managerial skills in general. Whether you're involved in drama, sports, school publications, or a part-time job, there are managerial duties associated with any organized activity. These can involve planning, scheduling, managing other workers or volunteers, fund-raising, or budgeting. Additionally, talk with sales managers about their careers to get an idea of the rewards and challenges of this profession.
Most companies that have a national or regional presence employ sales managers to manage the activity of their stores, the merchandise or services sold, and the performance of their sales staff. They may be in charge of multiple stores as determined by their territory. Some sales managers oversee territories that encompass a section of a large city, while others cover entire regions of the United States or abroad.
Sales managers oversee activities of each store's sales staff within their assigned territory. They implement training programs for employees to improve the work flow, interaction with customers, and familiarity with the company's products or services. Sales managers set sales goals for each salesperson, store managers, and the store itself. They monitor a store or stores' monthly or quarterly sales figures to ensure they meet set sales quotas. If not, they make recommendations to increase sales figures. These might include creating new sales presentations or special advertising programs or implementing employee retraining. Sales managers also work with each store manager to devise seasonal advertising campaigns and establish marketing budgets.
If their parent company offers franchising opportunities, sales managers are often responsible for interviewing and assessing potential owners. They explain company policies, procedures, and the principles behind its products or services. Sales managers may analyze potential market locations to determine if a new store would be viable. Once a new franchise is operational, sales managers visit often to inspect the store to ensure it is meeting company safety codes, procedures, and marketing plans.
Sales managers also oversee the quality and quantity of products sold or services rendered. For example, the regional sales manager of a national jewelry chain may inspect the loose diamonds or other gemstones that are purchased from wholesalers to determine if they meet the standards of the parent company. They may increase merchandise orders for each store to keep inventory levels sufficient during holidays or other times of the year when sales increase.
Sales managers may also be involved in product research and development. For example, district or regional managers of stores specializing in home goods may be instrumental in finding new furniture lines, kitchenware, or other accessories to carry in their stores. They often maintain contact with dealers and distributors to ensure imported goods arrive safely and in a timely manner, as well as meet governmental import regulations and procedures.
In addition to being familiar with their store's products, sales managers must also be knowledgeable about their company's work processes. For example, a district sales manager for the McDonald's Corporation must know the proper way to cook, prep, and package each food item on the company's menu.
Other duties of sales managers include monitoring the purchasing preferences of customers, writing reports, and representing the company at trade shows, conventions, and association meetings.