Careers in Sales
If you’re considering a career in sales, you might be struggling to know exactly what type of sales job would be right for you. Professional sales is a wonderful profession, appealing to all types of personalities, skill sets, and can be found across an aray of industries. The most difficult task for a new student of sales might be determining where you best fit in.
In this overview, we discuss the 13 best types of sales jobs – from entry to executive level. We will examine, what they do, the skills and experience required, salaries, and how they contribute to the business.
1. Sales development representative (SDR)
A sales development representative (SDR) is in charge of lead generation and moving leads through the sales pipeline.
SDRs spend much of their time looking for potential leads, cold calling and emailing them and qualifying them to make sure the product they’re selling matches the prospect’s budget, needs and timing.
Sales development representatives need to have deep product knowledge so they can understand how it can help customers fix their pain points. With this knowledge, they increase their chance of closing the most valuable deals and winning customers who will stick around for a long time.
A company will benefit from hiring SDRs when they have an ideal customer profile, a compelling value proposition and some paying customers with clear pain points their product solves. From here, SDRs can help the company reach a bigger portion of the target market and start scaling up.
The average base salary for a sales development representative in the United States is $44,680, according to PayScale. SDRs can also get bonuses up to $24,000 and commissions up to $25,000.
The ideal candidate for a sales development representative position will have qualities like:
- The drive to solve problems
- Excellent communication skills
- Confident when conducting strategic research, lead generation and outreach
- Great time management and organization
- Ability to work independently
2. Inside sales representative
An inside sales representative is a sales rep that sells products and services remotely rather than face-to-face. Inside sales can be called virtual sales or remote sales because inside sales reps use emails, phone calls, video calls and more to move a lead towards the sale and beyond.
An inside salesperson usually works on a predictable schedule. They can break down their weekly or monthly sales quota into the number of calls they need to make per day and remove distractions that don’t help them hit this number.
Companies benefit from hiring inside sales reps because they generate revenue with as little as a reliable internet connection and a way to make phone calls with solid audio. They can sell to anyone, no matter where they are.
The average base salary for an inside sales representative in the United States is $44,717, according to PayScale. Inside sales representatives can also get bonuses up to $15,000 and commission up to $29,000.
A great candidate for an inside sales rep position will have qualities such as:
- The ability to pick up verbal and audible cues on sales calls
- Strong communication and relationship-building skills
- The drive to consistently uplevel product knowledge
- Great task prioritization and time management
3. Outside sales representative
An outside sales representative is a sales rep that sells products and services through face-to-face meetings. Outside sales reps, also called field sales reps, meet their prospects at trade shows, industry events, prospect’s office, restaurant, or even when going door-to-door.
The schedule of an outside sales rep is less structured compared to inside sales. Their office is their base, but they spend most of their time outside of it. They set their own schedule and adjust it to their prospects’ preferences.
Hiring outside sales reps is a great step for companies aiming for larger deals. This usually means there’s a longer sales cycle, which goes hand-in-hand with the outside sales style that relies on deeper relationships.
The average base salary for an outside sales rep in the United States is $49,985, according to PayScale. Outside sales reps can also get bonuses up to $30,000 and commission up to $47,000.
An excellent candidate for an outside sales position will be:
- Great at picking up body language cues
- Comfortable at setting their own schedule and working autonomously
- Highly organized
- Willing to work with fewer leads (compared to remote sales that’s scalable)
Often, sales representatives will use a combination of inside and outside sales techniques to achieve their goals, but organizations do occasionally need a specialist.
4. Account executive (AE)
An account executive (AE) is in charge of the entire sales cycle, from lead generation through to closing the deal and beyond. They provide after-sales support to keep meeting the customer’s needs and ensure customer satisfaction.
To make this happen, account executives collaborate with sales reps, account managers and their customer service team. AEs are driven by an overarching goal to build long-term relationships with customers in order to maximize customer retention and repeat purchases, expand their customer base and keep churn low.
Account executives are essential for companies that want to go all-in on customer loyalty and build relationships with customers from the ground up. Account executives are highly involved in all parts of the sales funnel the customer goes through, which means they know these customers better and can make use of that knowledge in the long run.
The average base salary for an account executive is $54,898 in the United States, according to PayScale. Account executives can also get bonuses up to $40,000 and commission up to $52,000.
A strong candidate for an account executive role will be:
- Well-versed in all parts of the sales process
- Great at building and maintaining relationships
- Deeply knowledgeable about the market needs and trends
- Diligent at keeping notes and tracking details about accounts they oversee
- Able to make use of sales insights and reporting tools
5. Account manager
An account manager is the person in charge of building and maintaining long-term relationships with a company’s customers. They need to oversee a range of assigned customers, connect with key stakeholders in these companies and look for new sales opportunities with them.
Account managers serve as the main points of contact between their company and the customer. They become trusted advisors to the customers and help them maximize the solution they purchased.
When a company has a growing base of customers, it can get great benefits from hiring account managers. Adding this role helps businesses cross-sell and upsell efficiently, increase customer lifetime value and reduce churn.
The average base salary for an account manager in the United States is $55,247, according to PayScale. Account managers can also get bonuses up to $20,000 and commission up to $37,000.
An ideal account manager candidate will be:
- Great at listening, sales presentations and negotiation
- Experienced at juggling multiple accounts at the same time
- Proficient in sales forecasting and reporting
- Ready to collaborate with the sales team to identify new opportunities and move them forward
6. Sales manager
A sales manager is in charge of leading their team to hit sales goals. Sales managers set sales goals based on business goals and objectives. To meet these goals, they hire and train sales reps, build a strategic sales plan and evaluate their team’s performance so they can keep getting better.
The job of a sales manager expands beyond setting strategic goals and recruiting top performers. They also keep their sales reps motivated and boost their morale when they notice a drop in performance, a longer sales cycle or a drop in the team’s mood. They need to build a trusting relationship with their reps in order to push the entire team forward.
Any company with multiple sales reps will benefit from hiring a sales manager. This will help keep everyone aligned and focused on the same goal. Sales managers help companies get the best out of salespeople by coaching and motivating them to hit their goals.
The average base salary for a sales manager is $61,629 in the United States, according to PayScale. Sales managers can also get bonuses up to $32,000 and commission up to $59,000.
Strong candidates for a sales manager role have these traits:
- The ability to recruit, mentor, motivate and influence a team of ambitious sales reps
- Effective goal-setting paired with solid planning to hit those goals
- Sales reporting and forecasting
- Great communication and presentation skills with various levels and departments of the company
7. Customer success manager (CSM)
A customer success manager (CSM) is a liaison between the company and its customers. A CSM onboards clients after purchases, ensures their experience is smooth and develops direct, long-term relationships.
CSMs are instrumental in helping sales, marketing and product development teams understand customers’ needs and behaviors to maximize their efforts and boost company profits. A customer success manager’s goal is to drive recurring purchases, track the health of customer accounts, train customers and turn them into customer advocates.
Hiring a CMS brings the benefits of expanding a company’s revenue, preventing cancellations and churn and growing through referrals from customers who become brand advocates for the company.
The average base salary for a customer success manager is $68,812 in the United States, according to PayScale. Customer success managers can also get bonuses up to $24,000 and commission up to $31,000.
A sales resume for a great CSM candidate will have these skills and experience:
- Experience providing quality customer service and troubleshooting a range of issues
- The ability to lead, train and manage a team
- Excellent communication and collaboration skills across company departments
- Technical aptitude
8. Sales engineer
A sales engineer sells technical products to businesses. They have unique technical knowledge and specialize in complex, advanced solutions. They run technical presentations and product demonstrations to show how the product works and why it’s the best solution for their prospect’s needs.
Sales engineers are also masters of explaining advanced products and concepts in an easy-to-understand way. They help sales reps grasp the technical aspects of the solution they’re selling so they can close the deal.
If a company sells technical products that require setup and onboarding, have a learning curve, or simply work better when paired with technical knowledge, it will benefit from hiring a sales engineer.
The average base salary for a sales engineer is $73,567 in the United States, according to PayScale. Sales engineers can also get bonuses up to $28,000 and commission up to $42,000.
Here are some skills and experience that will make a great sales engineer candidate stand out:
- A relevant technical degree, or a degree in engineering, computer science, mathematics, IT or applied science
- Exceptional problem-solving skills
- Great presentation skills and the ability to convey complex topics and solutions in a clear, easy-to-follow way
- Efficient collaboration
- Deep knowledge of the sales process, including potential bottlenecks and key activities that move prospects forward
9. Sales operations manager
A sales operations manager is in charge of the processes, tools and technologies used by the sales team. They reduce friction in day-to-day sales activities and help salespeople stay efficient and productive. As a result, reps can hit their sales goals more easily.
Sales operations managers simplify and streamline complex workflows with a CRM. They help reps get an instant idea of the number of deals in their workflow, average deal size and value, how many deals are won and how long it takes to close a deal.
In short: a sales operations manager helps the sales team track their sales funnel and all the metrics that show them their performance.
If a company is looking to improve the impact and productivity of its existing reps with a strong sales process and a better tool stack, hiring a sales operations manager is the right way to go.
The average base salary for a sales operations manager is $79,036 in the United States, according to PayScale. Sales operations managers can also get bonuses up to $20,000 and commission up to $37,000.
A solid sales operations manager candidate will have:
- Experience in your CRM tool of choice, from optimizing processes to building dashboards and running reports
- The ability to turn a sales strategy into processes, automations and systems for your sales team
- Great communication and leadership skills
- The ability to teach, motivate and incentivize sales reps
10. Regional sales manager
A regional sales manager oversees sales activities, operations and performance in a specific geographic region. This can include retail and non-retail sales. Regional sales managers provide support to sales managers and teams in their territory and work with them to hit their sales goals.
They also know their region in-depth. They understand how different seasons influence demand and sales numbers, so they know how to adapt to patterns and trends—and hire new sales reps if needed. They train and motivate the teams they oversee and report on regional sales results.
Companies need to hire regional sales managers when their global reach becomes wide enough to divide it into territories that can be completely different based on company type. For example, a real estate firm can split a single country up into territories, but a software company may divide their sales operations into EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and the United States.
The average base salary for a regional sales manager is $82,615 in the United States, according to PayScale. Regional sales managers can also get bonuses up to $39,000 and commission up to $50,000.
Here are some qualities of a great regional sales manager candidate:
- Wide knowledge of the target market and competitors in their territory
- The ability to motivate, lead and coach sales managers and reps
- The ability to run sales reporting and forecasting with ease and present reports in a way that help sales managers and teams take action
- Experience in building a clear sales strategy and hitting sales objectives
11. Director of sales
A director of sales is a high-level management role that oversees and directs sales teams, either company-wide or within a certain region. A director of sales trains sales managers, owns annual sales targets and builds key sales strategies required to hit those targets.
Directors of sales have a birds-eye view of where the company is now from a sales and revenue perspective, as well as where it’s heading. They work with the marketing team, sales operations managers, financial managers and recruiters to align them with sales teams’ efforts and needs.
It’s the right time to hire a director of sales when the company is growing fast and there’s an opportunity to sell more efficiently and to better prospects by hiring ambitious, high-performing sales reps. A director of sales will keep this growth in sales capacity in sync with the company’s overarching goals.
The average base salary for a director of sales is $100,774 in the United States, according to PayScale. Directors of sales can also get bonuses up to $51,000 and commission up to $72,000.
People who embody these skills and experience will be excellent candidates for a director of sales role:
- Outstanding track record in sales
- Proven history of implementing changes and strategies that positively impacted a company’s growth
- The ability to develop streamlined sales processes to uplevel company-wide sales efficiency
- Sales forecasting and reporting skills that help inform sales plans
12. Vice president (VP) of sales
VP of sales is another senior management role. VPs report to the CEO or president of their company. This is one of the highest-positioned sales jobs. The VP of sales sets sales goals and objectives and works with the directors of sales to create strategies that will help them hit those goals.
The VP of sales operates on a large scale and their responsibility can vary a lot based on the size and structure of their company. They often include reporting to the board of directors, analyzing current revenue figures to understand the company’s trajectory (and act accordingly) and planning the company’s strategic direction.
It can take a long time to hire a good VP of sales and they’re a significant investment, so the sweet spot for hiring a VP of sales is when the company catches strong momentum with leads, sales and revenue growth. This is when a VP of sales can keep the sales organization aligned with the market, the company’s goals and its vision.
The average base salary for a VP of sales is $143,311 in the United States, according to PayScale. VPs of sales can also get bonuses up to $89,000 and commissions up to $102,000.
An excellent candidate for a VP of sales role will have:
- Multiple years of experience in sales leadership (C-level leadership a bonus)
- Extensive track record of setting and hitting an organization’s sales goals
- Great communication, mentorship and relationship-building skills
- Strong strategic mindset and creative thinking skills
13. Chief sales officer (CSO)
A chief sales officer (CSO) is the highest sales position in an organization. A CSO is the person in charge of leading and managing the entire sales function of a company. They manage the company’s VP of sales and oversee all sales activities of the company.
A CSO’s main focuses are leadership, strategy and evaluation. They assess the effectiveness of sales, operations and customer support so they can make necessary changes to ensure the company hits sales targets and overall business goals. This includes analyzing sales channels, competitors, the market and the company’s sales initiatives.
The average base salary for a chief sales officer is $170,567 in the United States, according to PayScale. Chief sales officers can also get bonuses up to $100,000 and commission up to $175,000.
Some of the skills you’ll want to look for on a candidate’s resume for the chief sales officer position:
- Deep analytical skills, including performance and competitive analysis
- Exceptional communication and leadership skills, with the ability to move a group of diverse people with different skill sets in the same direction
- Great change management as the company grows and scales
- Business acumen and in-depth understanding of market complexities
“A Complete List of All The Types of Sales Jobs” Pipedrive Blog, https://www.pipedrive.com/en/blog/types-of-sales-jobs.
Last updated: 8/6/2021