A degree in sales management prepares graduates for leadership roles across a variety of industries. Any business with a product or service to sell -- either business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) -- needs a sales team. Sales managers lead these charismatic groups, following a lucrative career path.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for sales managers will grow by 7% from 2016-2026. This steady demand for sales professionals should mean stable opportunities for graduates with degrees in sales or retail management. The following career guide looks at what students can expect from a sales management degree online program, plus the rewarding career paths graduates can pursue.
Professionals in sales management coordinate people and resources to produce desired goals. For example, a sales manager in real estate might set a team goal of 15 homes sold for the month of June. Together, the team aims to achieve that goal and, if possible, exceed it.
Broadly, sales management strives to increase sales volume, raise profits, and facilitate growth. Managers must account for a dynamic industry landscape, delegating and planning ahead. Sales manager duties include forecasting, establishing team objectives, recruiting and retaining staff, training, and evaluating the team and individual performance.
Earning a sales management degree online prepares graduates for employment as account managers, marketing managers, technical recruiters, and small business owners. Sales managers work in diverse industries, applying the principles of sales management to fields like technology and software, healthcare, and financial services. According to BLS data, the company management industry employs the most sales managers, followed by automotive dealers, computer systems design and related services, and merchant wholesalers.
Sales managers typically hold a bachelor's degree in sales management, business administration, or a related field, though some companies will hire job seekers with associate degrees and significant professional experience. The field changes according to customer behavior, competition, shifting regulations, and new technology or distribution methods.
Bachelor's candidates studying sales management acquire applicable skills, which they can leverage for a promotion or advancement. They learn how to make decisions, solve problems, communicate with stakeholders, and coach, train, and lead employees.
Prospective college students researching sales or retail management degree online programs should explore the following subsections for an overview of the skills and knowledge these programs teach and how they apply to various industries. They can also read about the earning potential for those pursuing careers in sales. California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida are the top five states with the highest employment level for sales managers.
Most sales managers hold four-year degrees and have prior experience working in sales-related roles, like purchasing agent or retail associate. Through a bachelor's in sales management degree online program, students gain skills in communication, dealing with customers, analysis, problem-solving, and leadership. Programs design curricula to accommodate the needs of students aiming to work in B2B or B2C settings. By graduation, students have the skills and knowledge they need to become sales leaders.
These skills can also apply to other leadership roles. Typical courses for a sales management degree online program include marketing research and strategy, consumer behavior, customer relations management, and relationship selling, which explores how to build long-term relationships with clients or consumers. Courses in business law, statistics, and accounting are also useful for new sales managers.
Because the skills and knowledge gained from this degree are broadly applicable, students should hone their skills to their preferred industries. For example, a student who aspires to work in fashion should seek an internship with a fashion company to gain an understanding of the industry and how theories learned in the classroom apply to it.
This practical understanding will help them in future positions. Sales managers, for example, set goals and initiatives for their team to strive for, meet, and surpass. Without an understanding of their industry, they wouldn't know what to target or how to recognize new opportunities.
Graduates of sales management degree online programs can take their skills in an array of directions. This versatility reflects in the diverse industries that depend on sales, including retail, banking, and wholesale distribution. With a combination of salaries, commissions, and bonuses, sales professionals enjoy great earning potential.
Note that commissions and bonuses use different metrics to award compensation. Bonuses, for example, may depend on individual performance, the performance of a sales team or district, or the performance of an entire organization.
Annual Median Salary: $124,220
Sales managers oversee sales teams, set targets and goals, manage resources, and review team member performance. Some positions require less education, but possessing a graduate degree can make a difference during the hiring process.
Annual Median Salary: $63,040
Loan officers sell loan products, including mortgages, personal loans, and education loans. They review an applicant's financial records and determine whether or not the person qualifies for a loan and under what terms or conditions.
Annual Median Salary: $67,600
Purchasing managers -- also called buyers -- negotiate contracts, manage inventory, and review the quality of goods or services. These buyers may also buy products at cost for resale.
Annual Median Salary: $132,620
A marketing manager sells a brand, product, or service through advertising or promotional work. They use campaigns, branding strategies, and consumer outreach to generate consumer awareness and interest.
Annual Median Salary: $64,120
These agents sell products offered by banks, credit unions, and firms. These can include mutual funds, car loans, and mortgages. A financial services sales agent can also advise clients on planning for the future to meet retirement goals.
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