How to Become a Sales Director

The Sales Director is one of the main and responsible positions in a company. The profitable part of the business is under their management. The implementation of the sales plan and maximizing profits largely depend on the personal and professional qualities of this specialist because they build the sales system and strategy.

Who is a Sales Director?

It is said that a good sales manager should be able to sell even air. Sales are the main activity of any enterprise, that’s why the sales director must have a high level of qualification, as well as relevant management experience.

What does a sales director do? Their main goal is to increase the number of sales of goods or services. The director manages and coordinates the sales and marketing departments. This role also includes sales planning, human resource management, employee development, leadership and resource control, distribution of products on the market, creating conditions for high-quality service, and preparation for the work of staff. 

Sales Director’s Career Ladder

Today, the sales director is one of the highest-paid employees in any company. But how to become a sales director? Here are the things you need to know.

Usually, directors grow from salespersons, but you can get this position after being:

  • A marketer
  • An owner or director of the company (in the early stages of business)
  • A marketing director 

The sales director can either grow in the company, or be attracted from another company.

In small companies, the owner of the company typically plays the role of the sales and marketing manager. In a company with successful sales practices, directors are “grown” inside. These companies create favorable conditions for staff training, including both internal schools and paying for coaching sessions outside the company.

Sales Director’s Roles And Responsibilities

Being such an important employee is hard, although it is justified by a good salary. What makes a successful sales director? Here are some obligations from a typical sales director job description:

  • Increasing sales;
  • Developing and planning the organization’s sales strategy;
  • Monitoring the preparation of forecasts, drafting plans for product sales, conducting demand research, marketing development prospects;
  • Developing and implementing standards for the storage, marketing, and transportation of products;
  • Running weekly meetings, assigning tasks to employees, distributing responsibilities between departments;
  • Adjusting the sales plan of the company;
  • Coordinating personnel management in the sales department;
  • Participating in the selection of employees;
  • Negotiating with target customers;
  • Developing the pricing policy of the organization, campaigns, discounts;
  • Analyzing sales;
  • Concluding long-term contracts;
  • Developing and implementing promotions (sales exhibitions, fairs, and other events).

Required Knowledge & Degrees

The sales director’s position involves working with resources (goods, promotion channels and employees). To occupy this post, you need:

  • strong personality;
  • oratory skills, leadership qualities;
  • sociability;
  • ability to make quick decisions;
  • developed intuition (a deep understanding of people, the ability to divide them into segmented lists);
  • analytical mind, ability to think systematically, make the right decisions, work for a result;
  • ability to defend your opinion;
  • knowledge of negotiation theory and practice;
  • ability to work with all sales channels;
  • understanding of the basics of time management;
  • good knowledge of trade and consumer rights;
  • familiarity with psychological methods of persuasion;
  • understanding of the essence, features, rules of business processes of the enterprise and good knowledge of the product.

Required Education To Be A Sales Director

You can start moving up the career ladder with one of two profiles: 

  1. Basic education of a manager (personnel management, project management, fundamentals of enterprise management).
  2. Bachelor’s degree in economics (general course, commerce, accounting, and auditing).

This is enough for employment as a junior manager or operator of the sales department of a valuable company. After three years of progressive upward movement (senior manager, department head), you can apply for the post of director.

What to do during the period of experience accumulation:

  • master a foreign language (when a director’s position opens, this will be an advantage);
  • get a master’s degree (management, economics, computer science);
  • study psychology.

Required Skills for a Sales Director

To succeed in sales,  you need to have confidence as well as the ability to persuade the audience. Other knowledge and skills to be a sales director:

  • legislative and regulatory acts, organization of sales and supply of products;
  • fundamentals of market economy, market features;
  • basics of marketing and management;
  • advertising basics;
  • basic principles and methods of forecasting;
  • rules, principles of sales structures;
  • strategic planning;
  • product specifications;
  • ethical business communication;
  • business psychology;
  • basics of HR.

Sales Director Certification

Although companies usually call for a degree, there are still employers that accept based on work experience or certification. You don’t always need university qualifications to be a sales director.

  • Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP). The AA-ISP offers several certifications for sales executives and account managers. ($875 for AA-ISP members or $975 for nonmembers).
  • Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP). This certification is for sales executives, CEOs and sales professionals. ($595)
  • Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP). It is one of two certifications offered by the Sales Management Association. 

Requirements To Be A Sales Director 

To become a sales director, you need to make the best impression at the interview and show your proficiency. 

  • The head of the sales department needs to have the right motivation (focusing on the result, not the process). 
  • Your CV needs to have numbers and indicators, for example, “customer base increase by 25%”, so the employer can see clear results of your work.
  • It is desirable to have industry experience, analytical decision-making and the ability to build relationships with customers.
  • Pay attention to the qualities you identify as strengths during your interview. They should describe you as a leader. 

Interview Questions for a Sales Director

It is likely that you will be asked several typical questions during your interview for a sales director position. Here are some examples:

  • What decisions helped you to achieve results? 
  • Tell us how to build sales management. 
  • How did you encourage customers to make purchases?
  • What is the best sales structure for our company? 
  • How do you motivate sales managers? 
  • What do you do when the sales plan is not fulfilled?
  • What is the best way to win customers over from competitors?
  • How did you keep the customers informed about new products or services?
  • What was the average increase in your client base during your management?
  • What will our company gain if you lead the sales?
  • What methods do you use to collect and manage your customer base?
  • What indicators measure the success of a sales department?

These questions help to check whether you know how to build business processes or plan a strategy, allows the interviewer to understand whether a potential leader knows something about the company and whether they can offer a solution.

sales director

How Much Does A Sales Director Earn? 

Today, sales specialists have the highest earnings among employees of companies, moreover, due to flexible wages, they also receive a percentage of income from the sales. 

Managers lure sales managers and directors with all kinds of bonuses and different forms of motivation.

The recommendation collection system is very effective. In such cases, the list of recommenders (clients, partners, colleagues) shows your aptitude. This information allows concluding the degree of effectiveness of this candidate.

Helpful Resources

If you are interested in more details on the sales director’s roles and responsibilities, here are some books you may want to read:

  • “Sales Champions” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. The book makes you not only think about the effectiveness of the sales approach, but also shows the direction for change. The way we sell has become more important than what we sell. You can learn effective tools: customer training, proposal adaptation and control over the sales process.
  • The Psychology of Successful Sales by David Mattson. The book has many different techniques based on the psychological aspects of working in the field of sales. This is a guide for thinking sellers.
  • From Slides to Stories by Martin Sykes, Niklas Malik, and Mark West. The book is based on a map of visual history. It is a step-by-step technique for creating persuasive presentations. You will need to use these features when preparing a presentation.
  • “Visual Thinking” by Dan Roem. What if you give your presentation at a table in a cafe? The book will be useful to everyone who needs to convince someone with just a pen and a napkin. 

What Else Can Help

All the above books can help you to improve your abilities and grow knowledge. But what can help to make fewer mistakes, sell more, save time and control your employees easily? can do it for you! Listen to calls, see the purchase history, create documents by template, write e-mails or messages. Assign and control employee tasks quickly and easily! The CRM software not only sorts and organizes documents and sends emails, but also allows you to make the workflow faster. This is a great way to simplify the work and save you valuable time.

Alternative Careers

With the required certification, you also have other perspectives:

  • Team leader
  • Development Director
  • Marketer
  • Product manager/product specialist
  • Project manager
  • Loyalty manager
  • Business analyst


The position of a sales director is one of the most sought after. Because of the need for high qualifications, there are not many people who can satisfy all the requirements. Being a director is hard and requires a lot of knowledge, but there are some features that can make your life much easier.