Starting with Jr. Sales Reps and going all the way up to Sales Directors (or Managers), the career ladder is perhaps never more clearly defined than it is in sales (pretty much every title has “sales” in it, so that helps). A talented sales rep can quickly earn “Sr.” designation, and from there it’s just a few solid performances to Sales Supervisor. While a Sales Supervisor may sound self-explanatory, the beauty is in the details, and that’s what you’ll find here: a complete job description. Set your sights high and learn the proper methods of conducting sales with this sales and relationship management course.
The Daily Grind
Sales supervisors are most common in retail sales in which they manage the sales representatives who work the floor. But they are just as vital to the sales teams in just about every industry imaginable, from stock photography to life insurance. Regardless of industry, a sales supervisor is primarily responsible for helping others; namely, the sales representatives. The supervisor ensures that the reps having everything they need to be successful and to become more efficient and effective.
The supervisor position is unique in that it is not essential to every sales team. Many sales teams simply live without them with the sales manager inheriting the extra duties. The larger the sales force, however, the more vital the role of a sales supervisor becomes.
Functioning In The Team
Supervising involves many tasks. Among the most important of these is monitoring sales progress, both individually and as a team. Performance reviews are a sales supervisor’s bread and butter. How is each sales rep performing? Is it appropriate to his or her level of experience? How is the team functioning as a unit? If you’re currently in the predicament of managing an underperforming sale team, get some free advice from this blog post on how to increase sales and where to start.
But drafting reports and sending them off isn’t where the supervisor’s involvement ends. Creating sales strategies or tweaking pre-existing plans, especially to benefit struggling sales reps, is all part of a day’s work. A sales supervisor is directly responsible for a poorly performing sales rep, even if the rep is a lost cause. This is because supervisors play an integral part in the hiring (and firing) of sales team members. Both acts are among the most difficult in the profession.
The Nitty Gritty
It depends who employs you, but the sales supervisor acts as an enforcer and upholder of company rules and conduct. This means making sure that every customer is exposed to the highest company standards, no matter how positive or negative the situation happens to be. Smaller things can work their way into your schedule, too, and policing can be an unpleasant business (enforcing break times and dress codes, for example). Needless to say, strong interpersonal skills are essential.
Duties, Skills And Other Responsibilities
Now that you know what a day in the life looks like, let’s take a look as some of the other duties, skills and other responsibilities you can expect to need or encounter as sales supervisor:
- Leadership Skills: Having other people in your charge makes leadership capabilities a vital skill. Hiring, training, motivating, streamlining, coaching, firing; all of these and more require a strong sense of leadership. Find yours with this class on the 4 simple leaderships tools every team member needs.
- Assist the Sales Manager in achieving sales goals and objectives, usually by implementing and revising sales strategies and by directing and motivating the sales team.
- As part of implementing sales campaigns: assign territories and leads, set attainable objectives by forecasting quotas, and help sales representatives improve their performance.
- Determine budgeting and gross profits by researching the financials and trends concerning sales strategies, marketing campaigns, etc.
- Maintain a pristine record of customer satisfaction in accordance with company policy. This will require the routine handling of customer concerns and issues and providing sales representatives and support staff with the necessary tools and knowledge to address these problems.
- Communication Skills: It is simply not possible to be a successful sales supervisor if you have sub-standard communication skills. These are vital for almost every aspect of the job: communicating with customers, with sales managers and representatives, with third parties, etc. Learn to speak smoothly, clearly and confidently with this communication improvement course.
- Technical knowledge is important for staying current with your field. Reading relevant publications, attending events, building networks and joining groups constitutes a significant extra-curricular aspect to being a sales supervisor.
- Keeping track of inventory is a common responsibility. This is typically not something a sales representative would do. The sales supervisor also has control over discounts for certain customers, price changes, deals, promotions, etc.
- A number of miscellaneous activities are commonly included, as well. Cold calling and getting your hands dirty in sales rep work often accounts for a portion of your day. Crunching numbers for executives, making travel arrangements for the team and yourself, and attending frequent company meetings are just a few of these responsibilities.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the sales ladder is clearly defined. A significant part of getting the supervisor position will be proving yourself at each lower level. Still, a great place to start is by earning a B.A., preferably in a field such as business, marketing or, of course, sales. But many companies find that degrees in the liberal arts, such as English, prove just as valuable and often make for better communicators. If you are starting from square one, I definitely recommend doing some more research and reading up on the sales field before getting involved. This post details the complete sales representative job description.
Experience is absolutely necessary, however. If you’re armed with just a B.A. and no experience, you have a better chance winning the lottery than landing a supervisor position. A common requirement you will see on job listings is five years. In other words, if you don’t have five years of sales experience, don’t even bother applying. Getting started can be easier said than done; I know from personal experience. Learn how to overcome things like “phone fear,” how to beat the gatekeepers, build trust and grow relationships with this sales prospecting course for beginners.
And as I hinted at under “Duties, Skills and Other Responsibilities,” a proven ability to lead, communicate, multi-task, motivate, organize and problem solve is as important as anything else. By “proven” I mean you need very strong references, which again goes back to what I said about working your way up the ladder by a combination of hard work and talent.
Working your way up to sales supervisor is usually worth every penny. Many sales representatives start with a low salary and compensate by earning commission, but sales supervisors are the other way around: the starting salary is admirable and the commission bonuses are just that: awesome bonuses.
In the corporate world of sales supervisors, the average supervisor makes $70,000+ a year. Again, that is without bonuses, which will be commensurate with sales results. Even the lowest 10% of sales representatives still pull in $45,000 annually, while the top 25% average $85,000+ and the top 10$ eclipse the $100,000 mark.
If you’re ready to push your career forward, you need to start planning your next step and preparing for interviews. Check out this interview skills training course that can help you land your dream job by dazzling during your interview.