How to Become a Outside Sales Manager

Learn what it takes to become a Outside Sales Manager in 2024, and how to start your journey.

How do I become a Outside Sales Manager?

Becoming an Outside Sales Manager is a career path that requires a blend of sales expertise, strategic planning, and leadership abilities. It involves not just understanding the nuances of sales processes but also managing a team of sales professionals and driving them towards achieving the company's revenue goals. If you're committed to pursuing a career as an Outside Sales Manager, be prepared to develop a deep understanding of customer relations, market dynamics, and effective sales techniques. This role demands a proactive approach, excellent communication skills, and the ability to inspire and lead a team in a competitive environment.

Gain Relevant Education

Begin by laying a solid educational foundation with a bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, communications, or a related field. This will provide you with the fundamental business acumen needed for a career in sales management. Courses in sales techniques, customer relationship management (CRM), and business strategy will be particularly advantageous. Consider pursuing a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with a focus on sales or marketing to further enhance your qualifications and appeal to potential employers.

Develop Essential Sales Skills

Success in outside sales management hinges on a robust set of skills. Sharpen your interpersonal and negotiation abilities to effectively engage with clients and close deals. Cultivate a deep understanding of the products or services you're selling, and learn to anticipate customer needs. Work on your organizational and time management skills to balance client meetings, sales strategies, and team management. Additionally, proficiency in CRM software and data analysis tools will help you track sales performance and make informed decisions.

Gain Practical Experience in Sales

Hands-on experience is crucial. Start in an entry-level sales position to learn the ropes of engaging with customers and making sales. As you gain experience, seek opportunities to take on more responsibility, such as managing accounts or leading sales projects. This progression will allow you to develop a track record of sales success and understand the challenges of the field firsthand.

Build Your Professional Network

Networking is vital in the world of sales. Connect with other sales professionals, join industry associations, and attend trade shows and conferences. These connections can provide mentorship, insights into industry trends, and potential leads. Building a strong network can also open doors to managerial opportunities and partnerships that can be beneficial for your career growth.

Step into a Leadership Role

As you build your sales expertise, look for opportunities to demonstrate leadership. This could involve mentoring junior sales staff, leading a sales campaign, or managing a small team. These experiences will help you develop the management skills necessary to oversee a sales team and will show potential employers that you are ready to take on the role of an Outside Sales Manager.

Stay Informed and Continue Learning

The sales industry is dynamic, with new strategies and technologies constantly emerging. Stay up-to-date with the latest sales trends, tools, and best practices. Engage in continuous learning through workshops, webinars, and sales training programs. Keeping your knowledge and skills current is essential for maintaining a competitive edge and effectively managing your sales team.

Each step is critical in forging a successful career as an Outside Sales Manager. The journey demands commitment, a willingness to continuously improve, and the ability to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of sales. For those with a passion for sales and leadership, the role of an Outside Sales Manager can offer a challenging yet rewarding career path.

Typical Requirements to Become a Outside Sales Manager

Embarking on a career as an Outside Sales Manager requires a combination of education, experience, and a specific skill set to succeed in this competitive and results-driven field. As the face of the company to clients and potential customers, an Outside Sales Manager must be adept at not only selling but also at managing relationships, understanding market trends, and leading a sales team. Understanding and meeting these requirements are essential for those aiming to excel in this role, which is often both challenging and rewarding.

Educational Requirements and Academic Pathways

While there is no strict educational path to becoming an Outside Sales Manager, many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in business, marketing, communications, or a related field. This education provides a solid foundation in sales techniques, business operations, and customer relationship management. Some Outside Sales Managers may also benefit from an MBA, which can deepen their understanding of business strategy and advanced sales concepts. Certifications in sales methodologies, negotiation, or specific industry knowledge can further enhance a candidate's qualifications and demonstrate a serious commitment to their sales career.

Building Experience in Sales

Experience is crucial in the sales industry, and aspiring Outside Sales Managers typically start their careers in entry-level sales positions such as Sales Representative or Account Executive. These roles provide the opportunity to hone sales skills, understand customer needs, and develop product knowledge. Progressing to a sales management position often requires a track record of consistently meeting or exceeding sales targets, as well as experience in mentoring junior sales staff and managing client accounts. Networking within the industry and seeking mentorship from experienced sales professionals can also be invaluable for career advancement.

Key Skills for Aspiring Outside Sales Managers

An Outside Sales Manager must possess a robust set of skills to be effective in their role. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential for building and maintaining client relationships. Negotiation and closing skills are also critical, as is the ability to work independently and manage one's time effectively. A successful Outside Sales Manager should also have strategic thinking capabilities to identify market opportunities and set sales goals. Additionally, leadership and team management skills are necessary to motivate and guide a sales team towards achieving targets.

Additional Qualifications for a Competitive Edge

In addition to the foundational education and skills, there are other qualifications that can distinguish a successful Outside Sales Manager. A deep understanding of the industry they are selling in, the ability to adapt to new sales technologies and CRM tools, and a passion for driving sales and achieving growth are highly valued. Professional certifications from recognized sales organizations can also provide a competitive advantage. Continuous professional development through workshops, seminars, and sales training programs can keep an Outside Sales Manager up-to-date with the latest sales strategies and industry trends.

Understanding these requirements is a vital first step for anyone aspiring to become an Outside Sales Manager. The journey to this position is often demanding, but for those equipped with the right education, experience, and skills, it can lead to a fulfilling and lucrative career in sales management.

Alternative Ways to Start a Outside Sales Manager Career

The journey to becoming an Outside Sales Manager is as diverse as the individuals pursuing this career. It's a role that benefits from a variety of experiences and skills, and there's no single prescribed path to achieving success. Recognizing that certain traditional paths may not be accessible or suitable for everyone, it's crucial to consider alternative routes that can lead to a fulfilling career in outside sales management. These alternatives can be especially valuable for those who may face barriers to entry in conventional ways or are seeking to capitalize on their distinct backgrounds and competencies.

Starting in Customer Service or Support Roles

Beginning a career in customer service or support positions can be an excellent foundation for an outside sales manager role. These positions cultivate strong communication skills, product knowledge, and an understanding of customer needs—all of which are essential in sales. By demonstrating a proactive attitude and a knack for problem-solving, individuals can transition from support roles to sales positions, eventually working their way up to a management role through consistent performance and leadership.

Building Sales Experience in a Different Industry

Sales skills are often transferable across different industries. Professionals with sales experience in sectors such as retail, hospitality, or telesales can leverage their customer engagement and negotiation skills to transition into outside sales. By focusing on the core competencies of salesmanship and adapting to the specifics of a new industry, these individuals can position themselves for management opportunities as they gain industry-specific knowledge and networks.

Capitalizing on Military or Athletic Experience

Individuals with military or athletic backgrounds often possess discipline, perseverance, and goal-oriented mindsets—qualities that align well with the demands of sales. Transitioning from these fields, professionals can highlight their leadership experience, team-building skills, and ability to perform under pressure. These attributes can be particularly appealing to employers looking for outside sales managers who can motivate and lead sales teams effectively.

Education and Professional Development

For those who prefer a structured approach to career development, pursuing education and professional development can pave the way to an outside sales management position. Degrees in business, marketing, or communication provide a solid academic foundation, while professional sales certifications and training programs can offer practical skills and industry recognition. Engaging in continuous learning and networking within professional sales organizations can also open doors to management opportunities.

These alternative pathways underscore the adaptability and openness of a career in outside sales management. They illustrate that with a combination of relevant skills, diverse experiences, and a strong drive, there are multiple avenues to enter and excel in this dynamic and rewarding field.

How to Break into the Industry as a Outside Sales Manager - Next Steps

Build a Foundation in Sales Fundamentals: Before aspiring to become an Outside Sales Manager, it's essential to understand the core principles of sales. Develop a solid grasp of sales techniques, customer psychology, and the sales process. This foundational knowledge will serve as the bedrock for your sales career and management approach.

Enhance Your Communication and Persuasion Skills: Effective communication is the lifeblood of sales. Work on refining your ability to listen actively, articulate value propositions clearly, and persuade prospects. These skills are critical for closing deals and will be invaluable when leading a sales team.

Embrace a Results-Driven Mindset: Sales is a performance-oriented field. Set personal sales goals, track your progress meticulously, and learn from each interaction. A focus on measurable outcomes will not only improve your sales abilities but also prepare you for managing and motivating a sales team.

Cultivate Relationships and Networking: Building and maintaining strong relationships is key in sales. Network with industry professionals, join sales groups, and attend conferences. These connections can lead to mentorship, partnerships, and sales opportunities, all of which are beneficial for an aspiring Outside Sales Manager.

Develop Leadership and Team Management Skills: As a manager, you'll need to inspire and guide a team. Seek opportunities to lead, whether in volunteer positions, group projects, or at your current job. Experience in leadership roles will help you understand team dynamics and effective management practices.

Stay Abreast of Industry Trends and Technologies: The sales landscape is constantly evolving with new tools and methodologies. Keep up-to-date with the latest sales technologies, CRM systems, and industry trends to ensure you and your future team remain competitive and efficient.

Gain Experience in the Field: There's no substitute for real-world experience. Start in a sales role that allows you to be out in the field, engaging with customers directly. This hands-on experience is crucial for understanding the challenges and nuances of outside sales, which you'll need to manage effectively as an Outside Sales Manager.

These tips are crafted to guide aspiring Outside Sales Managers on a path that emphasizes the importance of sales mastery, effective communication, leadership, and continuous learning. Each point is designed to build upon the next, creating a comprehensive roadmap for success in the competitive world of sales management.

FAQs about Becoming a Outside Sales Manager

How long does it take to become a Outside Sales Manager?

The journey to becoming an Outside Sales Manager can span several years, as it typically requires a blend of education, sales experience, and leadership development. With a bachelor's degree in business or a related field, one might expect to spend 3-7 years honing their sales skills as a representative or account manager before stepping into a managerial role.

Advancement can be faster for those demonstrating exceptional sales performance, strategic acumen, and strong interpersonal skills. Aspiring managers should actively seek out mentorship, leadership training, and opportunities to lead projects or teams to expedite their progression. The path is unique for each individual, with success influenced by personal drive, industry dynamics, and company structure.

Do you need a degree to become a Outside Sales Manager?

A college degree is not strictly necessary to become an Outside Sales Manager, but it can be advantageous. Employers often look for candidates with strong sales experience, leadership capabilities, and a proven track record in meeting targets.

A degree in business, marketing, or a related field may provide useful skills and knowledge. However, those without a degree can succeed in this role through industry experience, developing key skills in negotiation, customer relationship management, and strategic sales planning. Certifications and ongoing professional development can also bolster a candidate's qualifications in the competitive field of sales management.

Can I become a Outside Sales Manager with no experience?

Becoming an Outside Sales Manager without experience is a steep climb, but not insurmountable. Success in sales management often hinges on a deep understanding of sales processes, customer relationship building, and team leadership.

For those starting from scratch, consider roles that offer exposure to sales, such as associate or support positions, to develop essential skills. Education in sales techniques, management training, and seizing opportunities to lead small projects can also bolster your qualifications. Networking with sales professionals and seeking mentorship can provide guidance and open doors. Dedication to learning and a track record of sales success can eventually lead to a managerial position.
Up Next

Outside Sales Manager Skills

Learn which skills will be essential for JOBs in 2024

Start Your Outside Sales Manager Career with Teal

Join our community of 150,000+ members and get tailored career guidance and support from us at every step.
Join Teal for Free
Job Description Keywords for Resumes