Most salespeople just starting their careers aspire to be sales leaders someday. And the first opportunity they’ll have for a leadership role is the position of sales manager.

But how does an entry-level sales rep become a sales manager?

And what does a sales manager actually do?

What positions should sales managers have their eyes on?

If you don’t know the answers to any of these three questions, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll tackle these questions and discuss common sales manager career paths.

(To learn more about where your sales career might be headed, check out our Sales Career Paths Chart.)

How to Become a Sales Manager

If you want to become a sales manager, you first have to succeed as a business development rep. This means improving your sales skills, working closely with account executives, sourcing pipeline, and most importantly, crushing your quota.

But if you really want to move into a sales management position, you need to do more than just meet expectations – you need to go above and beyond. There are ways you can start acting as a leader of your team even before becoming a sales manager.

First and foremost, lead by example. Show new BDRs on your team how it’s done. Set the tone for your entire team. Be the person that everyone on your team looks up to and can count on for sound advice.

Step up every chance you get. If there’s a conference coming up and your marketing team wants a few BDRs to attend, then go! If a fellow rep has a question about using a new sales tool, help them out! If your sales ops manager wants feedback on CRM workflow, give it to ‘em! Little things can go a long way.

Offer advice when appropriate. If you see someone on your team struggling with something, be there to support them if you think you can help. But be careful not to overstep your bounds – you don’t want to be that guy. It’s important to show respect for everyone on your team, especially new BDRs who are just learning the ropes.

Lastly, be open with your managers about your desires. If you want to have their job someday, it’s okay to say it. They’ll respect your forward-thinking attitude and help you get to where you want to be.

What does a Sales Manager do?

There’s more to being a Sales Manager than just make sure BDRs are doing their job.

The best Sales Managers are also sales leaders. They continually inspire and motivate sales reps. They help BDRs realize their potential and encourage them to push themselves.

Sales coaching is a big part of the job. But nobody wants to be coached by someone talking down to them. That’s why it’s important to be a player-coach and be able to empathize with reps.

Sales Managers have plenty of other responsibilities, which we cover in this list of 9 thing great sales managers do every day. Some of these include:

  • Review the sales pipeline
  • Coach sales reps
  • Track progress against goals
  • Analyze your sales forecast

Sales Manager Career Paths

So you’ve been promoted to sales manager – congrats! But what’s next?

After proving yourself in your first years as a sales manager, you’ll be ready to start moving up the sales leadership latter. The next position in line is sales director. Then sales VP. Next, chief revenue officer. Finally, chief executive officer or chief operating officer, for those with entrepreneurial interests.

However, this isn’t the only career path available for sales managers. There are alternative routes that can be just as (or even more) fulfilling. Channel sales, sales operations, and even marketing offer numerous management roles that could be right up your alley.

Maybe your ability to easily establish rapport with people would allow you to flourish as a channel sales director. Or maybe your analytical mindset would make you a great sales enablement director. You’ll never know unless you consider the road(s) less traveled.

Check out our Sales Career Paths Chart to see where your sales career path may take you.