Salesperson Vs. Sales Manager

Were you born to sell? Becoming a salesperson or sales manager may the job for you. Salespeople work directly with potential customers, while sales manager are in charge of a team of salespeople.

Comparing Salespeople to Sales Managers

Salespeople and sales managers must both have a familiarity with the products that they sell and the best methods to make a sale to potential customers. The main difference is the position in the company. Sales workers work directly with the public, selling their products, while sales managers oversee teams of salespeople. Other similarities and differences are explored below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Salesperson On-the-job training; may require High School Diploma $22,900 (for all retail sales workers) 7% (for all retail sales workers)
Sales Manager Bachelor's Degree $117,960 5%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Salespeople vs. Sales Managers

Knowing how to sell and effectively communicate is vital to being a salesperson or a sales manager. A salesperson sells directly to the public and processes the order upon completion. This is the case for the sales of any product, from cars to clothing. A sales manager takes a wider view of the process, as they train staff, set goals, and oversee the work of multiple salespeople. In some cases, sales managers may execute wholesale purchases between businesses.


While day-to-day responsibilities may depend on the industry and employer, the main responsibility of a salesperson is to sell products to consumers. This may take place in a retail setting, such as a clothing or electronics store. Flexible hours are needed, as these stores may be open on weekends and holidays. Some salespeople work in an office setting, traveling to clients or calling on the phone. These sales workers must be able to maintain relationships with clients, follow leads, and generate referrals. A high school diploma is commonly the minimum requirement, with employers putting a greater emphasis on experience and customer service skills.

Responsibilities of a salesperson include:

  • Ensure satisfaction of customers
  • Have a strong understanding of the products being sold
  • Process customer payments
  • Inform the public of sales or promotions

Sales Manager

Sales managers are in charge of teams of business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) salespeople. These managers will recruit, train, and set goals for their teams to maximize success and profitability, while maintaining a positive experience for customers and fellow employees. To effectively lead, excellent communication and a strong knowledge of the products is vital. Depending on the position and size of the sales team, travel may be required. Sales managers usually have experience in sales and a bachelor's degree in the business field.

Responsibilities of a sales manager include:

  • Analyze sales and inventory reports
  • Evaluate customer response and develop sales and promotional plans accordingly
  • Communicate with other departments of the company
  • Find a solution for any customer complaints

Related Careers

Some salespeople work with highly technical products, acting as a liaison between customers and developers. If this sounds interesting, you may want to become a sales engineer. If managing a team is more your style, there are many different options available, such as becoming an office manager.

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