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Sales Management Careers, Jobs and Training Information


Those working in sales management deal directly and personally with the market. Through their expertise and experience marketing can be made concrete and humanly important, as other marketers rarely interact with or see the customer they are trying to win over. Sales managers must interact with a diverse variety of people from their own employees to clientele as they try to meet the clients demands by effecting quality liaison work to meet the client’s needs.

Job and Employment Opportunities

Many positions in sales management can be obtained through companies ranging from the for profit to not-for-profit organizations as well as service oriented institutions like those involved in financial services, insurance, consulting, and government. For instance, one type of sales is commercial banking.
Positions in industrial and commercial sales and sales management provide rewards and challengers through opportunities including systems selling and the need for broad management as well as technical training in some scenarios.
Since there are so many different kinds of product and market opportunities, and sales personnel are constantly facing new interpersonal situations, it is important to match sales personnel with positions that fit their background, interests, technical skills and academic training. Sales and sales management training programs can vary in length and format, lasting as little as a few weeks or taking up to two years. Every organization offers a different career path in sales, and thus each career path within in a particular organization should be examined.

Entry Level Sales Management Positions

  • Trade Sales: Such positions involve representatives of products produced by manufacturers or wholesalers and sold to wholesalers or retailers. Goods can vary from grocery items to office goods to clothing apparel. Firms that use these types of sales reps are Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Levi-Strauss etc. Sales reps typically are assigned a specific geographic location with a designated number of accounts for which they are responsible. Their duties involve visiting the wholesaler or retailer, providing information on the latest products, closing all sales, expediting orders, and mediating complaints.
  • Missionary Sales: These are representatives of the manufacturing companies who contact retailers and decision makers of companies in order to convince them that their product should be utilized. In a sense missionary salespeople “preach the gospel” of their goods, although they don’t actually close any sales. For example, a drug pharmaceutical representative contacts doctors to convince them to use the company’s brand when prescribing select drugs. Another common example is grocery product producers will send missionary salespeople to retail establishments to talk to retailers about the products, help them position displays, stock the shelves with goods, etc. These representatives also have a designated amount of accounts located in a designated geographic area for which they are responsible. Work as a missionary sales representative is a great method for preparing personnel to take on actual sales work later on as it does not require the representative to sale the product or close the deal.
  • Technical Selling: Technical sales reps also have designated accounts in assigned geographic locations for which they are responsible. The salesperson represents the product and works to sell it to the businesses on their account. The main difference between technical selling and trades sells is the nature of the product. Products that employ technical selling are often more technical in nature. Thus salespeople must have the necessary technical background and understanding to appropriately represent the product. Various examples of technical products might consist of electronic equipment, bulk chemicals, building materials, and capital equipment like machine tools. Firms that commonly hire such salespeople are IBM, Monsanto, and Warner-Swasey etc.
  • New Business Selling: In this form of selling the representative is not assigned an account nor designated to a certain geographic area. They are in charge of obtaining new business relationships. This includes selling of real estate, automobiles, life insurance, stocks and bonds, etc. Firms that hire these kind of salespeople are Caldwell Banker, automotive dealers such as Chevrolet and Nissan, and Aetna and Bankers Life insurance companies.

Other kinds of sales jobs include retail sales, delivery routes (bread or beer etc.) as well as phone sales. For the most part theses sales positions are not held by graduates of college.

Positions in Sales Management for Graduate Degree Holders

The majority of college graduates, especially MBA’s, are not hopeful of obtaining positions in sales. Rather they prefer to become product or brand managers, advertising account executives, corporate planners, or marketing researchers. However, by passing up sales positions they might be foregoing a great chance to become a member of a firm and obtain helpful experience related to the position they hope to obtain. Work in sales can help MBA’s obtain a broad perspective of how a firm’s products, competitors and the economic conditions interact. Work in sales also grants MBA’s the prospect of doing the job well and being noticed by corporate management. Sales work relies largely on an individual’s motivation and dedication to the job. Many MBA’s are able to develop a strong performance record in a just a year or two that affords them the opportunity to move up in the company. Many realize that climbing the ladder in sales management is a bigger challenge and offers more rewards than they had previously thought.

Career Training and Job Qualifications

As defined, personal selling consists of persuasive two-way communication with potential and future purchasers. Obviously it is necessary to relate well to others and enjoy their company in order to perform well in sales work, although more is required to be successful.

Salespeople have an expansive knowledge of the products they represent as well as those they are competing against. Basically, when it comes to sales, a salesperson must realize what needs and desires the consumer has and match those needs and desires with the company’s appropriate product. Maybe the biggest factor in selling a product is an individual belief by the sales rep that the product being represented can indeed help the buyer. If the sales rep does not believe in the product it will be difficult to sell it.

Other important factors in sales are motivation and organization since sales reps must take the initiative themselves and are not closely supervised by managers. Additionally, sales reps must be very analytical in order to accurately track and understand the statistical performance measures, as well as the financial data which helps a consumer understand the financial advantages and disadvantages of buying the product.

Basically a salesperson must first be empathetic towards the buyer’s needs and desires. A salesperson also uses their ego as driving force in wanting to match the consumers needs with the company’s product as well as be efficient in order to meet the needs of the consumer expediently. Nobody perfectly possesses all of these qualities or traits. As a person takes on more of these qualities they will be more likely to successfully sell products.

Each student needs to start with the beginning class in marketing management at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Taking the sales management class is absolutely necessary, and the course covering marketing strategy and business communications is also helpful. Those interested in the field should also enroll in the marketing research course. After that, those desirous of becoming salespeople should take courses that interest them. Students with interest in marketing to consumers or marketing consumer goods to the trade, should enroll in the consumer behavior and advertising course.

Especially helpful are classes which offer insight into the human mind such as psychology, sociology, economics, anthropology, etc. Other courses like cost accounting, computer science, and statistical analysis which help develop analytical skills are also useful. Other classes that help develop communications skills like speech, drama, and creative writing will prove to be an asset. Lastly, classes associated with one’s special interests should be taken. For instance, if one has interest in international marketing then courses in foreign languages should be taken, and those with interest in technical selling might enroll in engineering or physical science courses.