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What does a Sales Director do?

The bottom line of business is sales. Sales directors oversee the sales operations of an organization, managing the sales team and implementing programs to win new customers and increase revenue.

Sales director: The job description

The sales director's job engages an array of business skills, from strategic planning to team management. In this career, you might set sales objectives and marshal the necessary resources to achieve them. These resources may include educational programs, product development initiatives, sales strategies and most importantly, a trained, organized sales force.

As a sales director, you are likely to have many or all of the following responsibilities:
  • Shaping the organization's sales policies and objectives
  • Determining product selling points and setting sales strategies
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of sales initiatives and rewarding success
  • Recommending product enhancements to boost sales or win new customers
  • Managing sales representatives and overseeing a team of sales managers
  • Implementing educational programs for sales representatives
You may also work closely with marketing and product development heads, as well as C-level executives.

Aiming for a sales director career

Sales directors generally advance into the career after proving their skills in a mid-level sales management position. According to salary.com, these professionals have at least ten years experience in the field. The majority of sales directors--58 percent, according to salary.com--have a bachelor's degree. About one in four have a master's degree, typically an MBA.

Business administration degrees offer the most targeted preparation for a career as a sales director. The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and the MBA offer courses in business development strategy, marketing, finance, consumer behavior, management, operations and business communications. The Department of Labor emphasizes the importance of strong communications skills for sales managers and directors. Directors must communicate effectively with other managers and executives, sales staff and customers; the ability to cultivate strong relationships is key. Training in writing and presentation skills may serve you well.

Career opportunities for sales directors

Professionals in this career have a direct and demonstrable impact on the success of a company. As a result, talented directors with a proven track record can find opportunity in any economic climate. As the Department of Labor puts it, sales managers "constitute some of the most important personnel in an organization and are less subject to downsizing than other managers." The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts faster than average job growth for sales managers, with employment growing an estimated 15 percent.

Sales manager and director jobs are available across the U.S., with the most opportunities concentrated in metropolitan areas. According to the BLS, top metropolitan centers for sales management jobs are Los Angeles, greater New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and Minneapolis-St. Paul. New York City and Boston are also the top-paying regions.

A combination of experience and formal business expertise can get you into the director's chair. Begin your career in sales with a degree in business administration or management.

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