With so many industries needing a sales team to keep them in profit, it can be difficult for managers to cope with everything on their own.
As an area sales manager, you'll be responsible for overseeing the sales operation of your company in a particular geographical area. This could well include several counties, so expect to be fairly busy.
So, what will I actually be doing?
Typically, your specific responsibilities will include:
- Maintaining and increasing sales of your company's products
- Reaching the targets and goals set for your area
- Establishing, maintaining and expanding your customer base
- Servicing the needs of your existing customers
- Increasing business opportunities through various routes to market
- Setting sales targets for individual reps and your team as a whole
Recruiting and training sales staff
- Allocating areas to sales representatives
- Developing sales strategies and setting targets
- Monitoring your team's performance and motivating them to reach targets
- Compiling and analysing sales figures
- Possibly dealing with some major customer accounts yourself
- Collecting customer feedback and market research
- Reporting to senior managers
- Keeping up to date with products and competitors
In some jobs, you may also be involved with marketing.
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The finer details...
Normally, you'll work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, you may have to work longer when necessary.
You'll be office-based, but may also visit your head office, and possibly your sales team and customers. You may need to attend conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions.
If your company sells products overseas, you may be travelling abroad.
You could work as an area sales manager all over the UK, for a wide range of industries and markets including manufacturing, wholesale distribution and consumer goods.
Jobs may be advertised with specialist sales recruitment websites and agencies, in the local and national press, and trade publications for your particular industry.
Money, money, money
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
Starting salaries at area management level tend to be in the £25,000 - £35,000 range, plus commission.
Experienced or strong performing area managers can earn six figure salaries.
Most companies offer a basic salary with a bonus or commission scheme.
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The good points...
With experience and a good track record, you could become a regional manager, and take on a larger sales area, or be promoted to even higher-paid and more responsible jobs like regional or national sales manager or sales director.
A car, expenses and pension are usually included in the salary package.
...and the bad
Depending on the size of the area you cover, your job may involve some overnight stays away from home.
Is there study involved?
You'll need a proven record in sales and reaching targets, and previous sales management experience would be an advantage. Some companies may prefer you to have a business-related degree or BTEC HND, but formal qualifications are often not essential.
Relevant work-based qualifications include NVQs in sales, or qualifications from professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) and the Managing and Marketing Sales Association (MAMSA).
For technical sectors such as hi-tech, IT or engineering, you're likely to need a degree or at least an HND in a relevant subject. Alternatively, you could have expert market knowledge gained from experience in design or manufacturing.
As an area sales manager, you'll be expected to already have relevant sales and management skills. Your employer will normally provide some training in their products and in-house sales administration systems.
You could work towards NVQ levels 3 and 4 in Sales, or other advanced qualifications such as:
- Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Advanced Certificate in Sales Management
- Diploma in Professional Sales
- Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) Level 5 Diploma in Strategic Sales (Sales Management or Key Account Management)
- Managing and Marketing Sales Association (MAMSA) Advanced Diploma in Sales Management
See the CIM, ISMM and MAMSA websites for more details about their qualifications.
You could also choose to take qualifications in general management, such as NVQ levels 3, 4 and 5 in Management.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
To be an area sales manager, you'll need to have:
- Excellent sales and negotiation skills
- Good business sense
- The ability to motivate and lead a team
- Initiative and enthusiasm
- Excellent communication and 'people skills'
- Good planning and organisational skills
- The ability to work calmly under pressure
- Good IT, budget and report writing skills
- A full driving licence
- Foreign language skills are increasingly useful