A sales director, or a director of sales, is employed by a company to manage the work of subordinate salespeople and lead an effective selling strategy for the business in general. As a rule, a sales director has full control over the sales functions and reps within the company’s budget and is often a part of its higher management.
Sales director job description
Sales directors are responsible for all sales team activities, motivating sales reps and ensuring they meet expected goals. Besides, they may be involved in strategic planning and launching of new products or services. Specific sales director responsibilities may vary based on the company and industry, but they typically include:
- Leading and motivating the sales team
- Setting and communicating weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual sales goals
- Ensuring salespeople know how to achieve set goals
- Developing and implementing strategic plans to achieve sales targets
- Working with customers to better understand their needs
- Expanding the company’s customer base and building lasting relationships with them
- Preparing detailed sales reports and checking their accuracy before submitting them
- Introducing alterations to the sales program in response to competitor changes and industry benchmarks
- Assessing costs, supply, demand, and competitors to determine selling prices
- Estimating sales volume for current and new products
- Implementing a sales training and onboarding program to educate new employees
- Establishing a referral network with other businesses and finding opportunities to maximize value from these connections
- Meeting with sales managers to assess company performance
Sales director vs. sales manager
People often mix the position of a sales director and the one of a sales manager, although a line should be drawn between these roles. Let’s compare.
Both a sales director and a sales manager are leaders of sales teams. They are part of the hierarchy and follow the company’s mission and set goals.
The difference between these positions is that while a sales manager manages a team of salespeople, a sales director manages a sales manager. It means that a sales manager communicates with a sales team and reports to a sales director, while the latter is responsible for downward communication.
What is more, a sales director is responsible for creating a sales strategy and decision-making, whereas a sales manager is in charge of implementing, monitoring, and controlling the sales strategy. Finally, while a sales manager is in charge of a particular region assigned to them, a sales director should control all regions under supervision.
How to become a sales director
To succeed in the role, a sales director needs to have the following qualifications:
A sales director must possess a bachelor’s degree in Sales, Marketing, Economics, or any other business-related discipline. However, many companies would consider candidates with a master’s degree (PhD preferred).
As a rule, it’s required that a sales director should have 10 years of experience working in sales, preferably in one of the senior positions such as head of sales, head of sales operations, or head of account management. The candidate must have a substantial background in working as a leader of a sales team.
A person should also be ready to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of sales operations and processes and have experience in building sales strategies in a complex sales organization.
A sales director should possess both hard and soft skills. Some of the most required ones are the following:
- Business development skills. They presuppose the ability to analyze a company’s current performance and identify areas of improvement. A sales director should always set new sales goals and continue growing the customer base. This requires constant evaluation of the business’s ongoing processes.
- Leadership skills. A sales director should have these skills to motivate salespeople and coordinate their work toward achieving set goals. This position requires effective and positive leadership.
- Interpersonal and communication skills. To maintain a healthy work environment, a sales director should have strong verbal and nonverbal communication skills. They should be able to communicate objectives, provide constructive feedback, and cooperate with other departments.
- Analytical skills. A good sales director will show interest in business drivers and understand sales quota and compensation plans. Besides, they should demonstrate the ability to derive insights from new information and develop clear sales strategies to be followed by the team.
- Critical thinking and problem-solving. A sales director should be ready to use their knowledge and reasoning for solving problems and react quickly to any business changes.
- Time management. A sales director position presupposes multitasking, which can’t be conducted effectively without proper time management. They should be able to prioritize tasks and delegate some of them efficiently if such a need arises.
- Computer skills. A sales director should have substantial computer skills as their job includes typing and using specific company software. Besides, they should be proficient in using tools necessary for the creation of reports and presentations for the senior sales management, stakeholders, and collaborating departments.
Although not required, they are preferable if you want to become a professional in this position. Here are some of the certifications for sales directors:
- Sales Management Association: It offers Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP) and Certified Sales Operations Professional (CSOP) global certifications.
- The Association of International Product Marketing and Management (AIPMM): It offers the Certified Brand Manager certification, which enriches you with the knowledge of how to optimize customer relationship management and brand equity.
- Google: Google provides several certification programs to choose from, such as Google Analytics and Google AdWords certifications.
Apart from certifications, a sales director should always develop their skills by attending special courses and reading practical sales books.
Wrapping it up
A sales director is a responsible position that presupposes taking control of the sales department’s overall productivity and effectiveness. It requires solid knowledge and skills, so not many can be well qualified for this role.
However, if you are sure you are tailored for the job and are ready to step on this time-consuming and not easy career path, be prepared to get respective education and always improve your expertise with additional certifications. The position of a sales director, to which you will grow up to, will be rewarding enough to compensate for all your efforts.