By earning a sales management degree online, graduates obtain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in many management positions in the business world. A bachelor's degree in this field prepares students to lead, support, and foster growth within sales organizations and related businesses. Ideal for students with an aptitude for problem-solving and an interest in communication, a sales management degree may provide the most direct route to a management career.
While the profession can prove demanding and competitive, sales management workers find employment in some of the country's largest industries, and many benefit from incredibly lucrative salaries. The following information looks at what a sales management degree entails, what skills it develops, and what opportunities it presents graduates.
Overview of Sales Management Degrees
Earning a sales management degree online teaches students how to lead a diverse group of people toward a common organizational goal. Degree seekers learn problem-solving and communication skills, along with other business-oriented skills like marketing, economics, and customer service.
Perhaps most importantly, this program improves a participant's leadership skills. Sales managers must possess the ability to detect sales inefficiencies, create solutions, and establish fixes through sensitive motivation and training. Earning a sales management degree demonstrates a graduate's aspirations and passion for leadership.
Although job growth for sales manager positions remains close to the national average for all careers — according to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — the annual median salary expectations stand more than three times higher than the average job. Furthermore, the broad skills learned by sales management graduates allow them to move between various business environments, including hospitality, marketing, and finance industries.
Each program and school uses its own application process, but many common elements exist. Most bachelor's programs require that applicants hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. A typical college application includes a high school transcript, which students can order and send to prospective schools.
Most colleges and universities also set minimum GPA requirements that applicants must meet, although these vary depending on the program. Some schools process and send student's transcripts for free, while others charge a transcript processing fee. Likewise, most schools charge an application fee, which most commonly costs around $50. Additionally, many programs require applicants to submit documents that speak to their personal and professional character. These items typically come in the form of resumes, references, and personal essays.
In some sales management programs, work experience may prove useful for admittance. Schools may also award transfer credit for previous professional or military experience.
Some colleges may require students to meet certain prerequisites before being admitted, such as completing advanced mathematics courses. Individuals who have yet to complete these classes may be granted conditional acceptance, assuming they take the courses in question once enrolled.
What Will I Learn?
To occupy management and leadership positions in the broad world of business, professionals require a diverse skill set and a robust educational foundation. For these reasons, sales management programs offer a healthy mix of courses, including general education, elective, ad concentrated leadership classes.
Typically, sales management programs include about 50 general education credits to round out a student's education base. Learners also take about 20 credits of electives; these can be used to supplement an individual's career goals or explore different interests. Courses in mathematics, public speaking, or professional writing, for example, may fulfill elective requirements while also bolstering a sales manager's skill set.
To complete the remaining credit requirements, students take courses directly related to their major. In the beginning, these courses focus on general business concepts and principles. However, in the later years of a degree plan, courses focus more on advanced business and selling strategies and leadership training. The following list highlights common courses taken by students pursuing the best sales management degrees online.
This foundational course provides students with a basic understanding of how businesses run. By learning the inner-workings of various departments and gaining a working knowledge of how each division operates, future sales managers can better lead, serve, and communicate within a business or department.
For a sales manager, understanding why and how a customer buys things represents one of the profession's most important elements. This course covers the buying process, from product and service evaluation to the actual purchase. Students also learn how marketing campaigns and sales processes change based on external factors.
Business to Business (B2B) Marketing
In this course, students learn how business customers — as opposed to individual consumers — value products and services. Participants observe how marketers create campaigns and determine pricing to satisfy other businesses. Learners who complete this course gain a solid understanding of both the buying and selling processes involved in B2B interactions.
Professional selling courses teach students how to develop sales philosophies and strategies to meet diverse purchasing demands. For sales managers, these courses also help individuals understand how different salespeople work and how to best coordinate and manage different personalities. Coursework may also emphasize the importance of professional writing and communication skills, as well as public speaking and presentation skills.
Analytics offer businesses tools to help make more accurate and informed decisions. Managers that know how to use business analytics can provide risk analysis simulations and forecast sales numbers with greater precision. Managers may also use these skills to analyze a sales team or campaign, providing in-depth reporting and detailed productivity assessments.
Leadership and Management
Leadership and management courses teach students how to lead effectively in diverse environments. These skills help professionals better assess performance, communicate with team members, and provide training and support. Other useful information learned from these classes relate to organizational, presentation, and administrative skills.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Sales Management?
By earning a bachelor's degree in sales management, graduates accrue the skills needed to lead within the competitive sales landscape. Not only does the knowledge obtained from this degree help professionals thrive in sales, but a graduate's broad skill set is useful in many fields within business and related industries. The following information highlights major skills provided by this degree choice, along with some of the best career options available to graduates.
Students who earn a bachelor's degree in sales management learn many marketable and applicable skills. Relatedly, more students choose business degrees than any other degree. According to the BLS, the most important skills for sales managers include analytical, customer service, communication, and leadership skills. A typical sales management program provides each of these and teaches students how to get the most out of their future teams.
Communication skills come in different forms, including the ability to give compelling presentations, write well, and provide effective training. Students learn how to communicate while also respecting their future employees and coworkers. Many programs pass along important skills in different business environments, such as marketing, accounting, and finance. Being well versed in all of these areas allows sales professionals to better understand the financial impact of a sales campaign.
Furthermore, students cover useful management tools, such as business analytics, to improve their assessment and productivity reports. Equipped with an extensive skill set, sales management graduates represent a very employable group. This employability sometimes takes graduates into areas of business outside of sales and into other industries.
Potential Careers & Salaries
Sales managers find themselves employed across many industries. With their highly transferable leadership skills and business aptitude, graduates with sales management degrees benefit from a wealth of opportunity and possibility. Nevertheless, according to the BLS, wholesale trade and retail trade employ more sales managers than all other industries, hiring 20% and 18% of these professionals, respectively. Other major industries for employment include manufacturing (12%), professional services (10%), and finance and insurance (9%).
Additionally, whether or not they sell a product or service, nearly all organizations require professionals who can lead, train, and improve staff performance. Understanding buyers and sellers — and the motivations behind these groups — also allows sales managers to recognize how people engage and interact with different organizations, products, and services.
The following table identifies and discusses some of the best and most common professions available to sales managers, as well as the accompanying median annual salaries.
Technical Account Manager
Annual Mean Salary: $81,882
Technical account managers maintain customer accounts by providing support and servicing customer needs. Some organizations also require account managers to drive sales. These workers require strong communication and customer service skills.
Annual Mean Salary: $51,441
Account executives often serve as the link between customers and businesses, providing communication between these two groups. These executives may represent the needs and wants of either side, negotiating on behalf of different groups as needed.
Business Development Manager
Annual Mean Salary: $70,895
Tasked with identifying and creating new business opportunities, these managers needed to assess business potential and communicate benefits. Additionally, these workers should possess the ability to develop growth strategies for their employers and customers.
Executive Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Annual Mean Salary: $169,497
These professionals often design and implement large-scale organizational campaigns. EVPs must also present sales and marketing targets and help their teams meet those targets, training and supporting wherever necessary.
Client Services Director
Annual Mean Salary: $87,318
Similar to account executives, client services directors maintain the bond between an organization and its clientele. This relationship requires directors to communicate issues or concerns from one side to another. Some directors may also take charge of developing new clientele or designing campaigns to reinvigorate a customer base.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Sales Management?
A bachelor's degree in sales management provides students with the skills required to succeed in many leadership positions; therefore, a graduate degree may not prove necessary. Still, advanced degrees usually help professionals progress within an organization or industry, particularly at large corporations and government agencies. A master's degree in business represents the most common degree at that level of education. However, other avenues into leadership positions do exist.
For example, many professionals can obtain management positions through a combination of a bachelor's degree and experience. Individuals who gain ample experience accrue many of the same sales management and leadership skills that students would learn during a graduate program. Alternatively, students can opt to take training courses and certifications to enhance their education without pursuing another degree; this helps professionals advance in their careers while also minimizing time and cost commitments.
Accreditation for Sales Management Bachelor's Programs
For students and employers, accreditation provides peace of mind. Learners who attend an accredited program know that their curriculum adheres to certain industry and/or academic standards, while employers know that graduates of accredited programs received sufficient education and training.
The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education offer valuable accreditation to qualified business tracks, and each recognizes that an accredited program meets high industry standards.
Though employers may hire candidates from schools not accredited by these organizations, students should consider looking into common requirements for their target careers to ensure they will meet requirements upon graduation.
Students should not, however, compromise on institutional accreditation. The ability to transfer credits, apply for financial aid, and pursue licensure and industry certification all require students to graduate from an accredited schools. Learners can verify their program's accreditation status by visiting the database hosted by the Department of Education.
Sales Management Professional Organizations
Professional organizations represent one of the best resources for workers, including sales managers. When preparing to enter the business landscape, new graduates can find career resources, mentoring opportunities, and a wealth of industry tools and resources through these organizations. Additionally, industry veterans often use professional organizations to expand their networks and develop skills. The following list identifies some of the best and most popular professional organizations for sales managers.
National Association of Sales Professionals
Dedicated to improving the sales profession, NASP offers members access to the largest online network of sales professionals in the world, as well as professional development training programs and various industry certifications. The association also provides numerous training resources, access to industry events, and career services assistance.
The Sales Management Association
This association seeks to improve sales teams across the world by supporting managers of different positions and industries. It also offers members access to professional development programs, a large peer network, and research related to proven sales methods and best practices.
The Sales Association
This group supports business development and sales management professionals from various industries. It strives to increase its members' profits by assisting in their professional development and by providing access to a large and supportive professional peer network. Members also receive access to industry resources, certification programs, and national conferences.