What does a General Sales Manager do?

Jacob Queen

A general sales manager is the primary manager of sales at a company. The responsibilities associated with the job include managing employees in the sales staff, training staff members, and strategically planning an overall marketing approach. In some cases, a general sales manager may be the only kind of sales manager in a company, but in other cases, businesses may break sales management up into separate categories. Most sales manager jobs have extensive education and experience requirements, and it is the top position available in the sales department at many companies.

General sales managers are generally evaluated by the performance of their sales representatives.
General sales managers are generally evaluated by the performance of their sales representatives.

Most of the time, the average salesperson will report directly to the general sales manager, who will constantly be overseeing his work. Sales managers are generally judged by the performance of their sales representatives, and they may be rewarded for sales successes or punished for sales failures. The general sales manager will often work with sales representatives on an individual basis to find areas of weakness and improve their results. People in this position are also usually responsible for training new sales staff members while teaching them the company's basic approach and policies.

Some sales manager positions may require extensive sales experience.
Some sales manager positions may require extensive sales experience.

One of the most important parts of a general sales manager job is often strategic planning, and developing an effective overall sales approach for the company will generally fall under the list of duties. This often requires a good grasp of the entire company business model and a strong understanding of marketing principles. It is also usually important that people in this role develop an effective approach for using manpower, so that the best staff members are put to work on the most important tasks for maximum efficiency.

Sales manager jobs usually require some actual experience in sales, and often these requirements will be extensive. Once someone has experience as a sales manager, it is easier to move into a new company as an outside employee, but the first job in this position will often be a case of working up through the ranks. There is also usually a steep educational requirement for a general sales manager job, but that can vary a bit. For example, many sales managers are expected to have a business degree, but some companies may also require education in a particular field related to their product. The responsibilities of sales managers are usually very important to a company's overall success, and it isn’t unusual for them to be tapped for promotion to higher positions.

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Discussion Comments


@Comfyshoes - I had a friend that was a national sales manager for a cosmetic company and she used to tell me that the overnight travel was brutal. She was on the road about 75% of the time.

She said that she loved her job and her great salary but she wanted to start a family with her husband and decided to do something else.

Her experience in sales management allowed her to get a great corporate training job for another company with little travel. The great thing about working as a sales manager is that it can easily transition to other jobs.


I know that a huge portion of sales manager’s job involves training and a lot of coaching. Many sales manager’s salaries are often in the six figures and their bonuses are often dependent on his or her staff’s performances as well as other profitability measures. I know many people that have held a director of sales position usually get promoted to the Vice President of Sales which overseas all of the sales executives for the company if their sales figures are consistently high.

I think that you really have to be a people person as well as have excellent communication skills for a job like this. You also have to manage your sales staff and motivate them to do their best.

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