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Sales Director vs Sales Manager

Sales Director vs Sales Manager: Key Differences and Responsibilities

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If you’re wondering what the difference is between a Sales Director compared to a Sales Manager, we’ve got you covered. We’ll compare and contrast each of the roles so after you’re done reading, you’ll know exactly which role is which. If you need further assistance with placement, check out our sales recruiting services.

What Is a Sales Director?

A Sales Director, often referred to as the Head of Sales or Director of Sales, is a senior-level executive responsible for crafting and implementing sales strategies to drive growth and sales performance. The role demands a clear vision and strong leadership skills to steer the sales department toward achieving the company’s sales goals.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Strategic planning: Designing long-term sales strategies and setting sales goals.
  • Leadership: Providing guidance and sales leadership to the team, ensuring they align with the company’s vision.
  • Collaborating: Working closely with the marketing department and the executive team to create cohesive strategies.
  • Data-driven decision making: Utilizing software and analytics to inform strategies.
  • Retain Top Talent: keep your best sales managers

In terms of hierarchy, a Sales Director typically ranks above a Sales Manager, possessing broader scope of responsibilities and greater authority. Their work often intersects with product development and customer service to improve the overall customer journey. (Note – The job roles are different in fractional sales management, but the principles and job tasks are essentially the same).

Educational Background:

  • Commonly holds a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business, marketing, or a related field.
  • Additional sales or leadership certifications can be beneficial.

The Sales Director is key in a company’s growth, harnessing the potential within the sales team to maximize efficiency and results. This role involves critical planning and execution of sales programs that align with the business’s overarching objectives. With a data-driven approach, they ensure that the sales department is operating at its peak, propelling the company towards its financial targets.

What Is a Sales Manager?

A Sales Manager is a main figure in the realm of sales management. They focus on guiding their sales team towards meeting sales targets and fostering revenue growth for the organization. Their job duties encompass managing and developing a team of sales representatives through training and coaching. Sales Managers help with crafting sales plans, setting quotas, and ensuring these targets align with the company’s strategic goals.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Developing Strategy: Formulating sales plans and strategies to acquire new customers.
  • Monitoring Sales: Analyzing sales data to track progress and make improvements, usually done within the CRM or other sales management specific tools.
  • Training: Mentoring new hires during the onboarding process and providing ongoing training and coaching to sales associates.
  • Communication: Hosting regular meetings with the sales team to discuss sales numbers and strategies.
  • Retain Top Talent: keep your best sales reps

Skills and Tasks:

  • Strong leadership to maintain control and set the work environment culture.
  • Excellent problem-solving skills to address sales challenges.
  • Proven ability in analyzing sales reports and market trends to adjust tactics.
  • Efficiency in sales operations to ensure customer satisfaction.

Managing for Success: Their role is not limited to achieving immediate sales success; it involves a continuous process of team development, from conducting training sessions, updating sales playbooks, to offering individual guidance. They create a productive work environment that promotes open communication and encourages a focus on both customer service and customer satisfaction.

Salary and Progress: While the average salary of a Sales Manager can vary depending on the industry and region, it often reflects their critical role in revenue control and the overall sales strategy. The Sales Manager plays an influential part in molding the sales culture within the company to drive long-term success.

Sales Director Job Description

A Sales Director oversees the sales department, providing strategic direction and ensuring that sales targets are met. They often take a holistic view of market trends and product development to craft effective sales strategies.


  • Develop and execute strategic plans to achieve sales targets.
  • Build and maintain long-term relationships with key customers.
  • Lead and mentor sales managers and representatives.
  • Collaborate with the marketing department to align strategies.

Experience: Sales Directors typically have extensive experience in sales, often requiring several years in a leadership role. A proven track record of meeting or exceeding sales goals is essential.

Educational background: They usually hold a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or a related field. An MBA can be an advantage.

Sales Strategies: A Sales Director develops and implements robust sales strategies based on an in-depth understanding of the market.

Executive Leadership: As part of the executive team, they contribute to the overall success of the organization, influencing company policies and strategies.

Vision: They must possess a clear vision for the sales department and align it with the company’s goals.

Targets: Setting realistic and ambitious sales targets is a key responsibility, along with strategizing to meet them.

Market Trends: The Sales Director stays well-informed of changes in the market that could affect sales and adjusts strategies accordingly.

Strategic Direction: They provide direction for where and how the sales team should operate to gain a competitive edge.

Product Development: The Sales Director provides insights on customer needs and market demands to inform product development.

The Sales Director is commonly seen as a critical leadership role for success in a company’s sales operations, ensuring that the sales team aligns with the broader business objectives.

If you’re looking to hire a Sales Director, we can help.

Sales Manager Job Description

A Sales Manager guide the sales team toward achieving set targets. They are responsible for crafting strategic sales plans that expand the customer base and ensure the company’s strong presence in the market.

Major Responsibilities

  • Establishing sales objectives by forecasting and developing annual sales quotas for regions and territories.
  • Managing, mentoring, and providing feedback to the sales team to achieve excellence.
  • Overseeing the hiring, objectives setting, coaching, and performance monitoring of sales representatives.

Team Leadership Sales Managers lead their teams with a focus on optimizing productivity and ensure the implementation of effective sales strategies. They maintain a robust sales pipeline and strive for each member to meet or exceed targets.

Sales Strategies and Execution They are adept at analyzing trends and results, setting up sales strategies, and rigorously executing them, monitoring the market and competitor activities.

Customer Relationships and Sales Training An essential duty includes maintaining professional and technical knowledge by attending educational workshops, reviewing professional publications, and participating in professional societies. Sales Managers also emphasize the importance of strong customer relationships and conduct sales training to enhance the team’s skills and performance.

Key Performance Indicators

  • Achievement of sales, profit, and strategic objectives for the business unit.
  • Account and customer relationship management, sales and influence outcomes.
  • Team capacity development in alignment with company objectives.

Sales Managers work in a variety of settings, from small startups to large multinational corporations, adapting their strategies to fit the size and needs of their sales force.

If you’re looking to hire a sales manager we can help.

Sales Director Responsibilities Vs Sales Manager Responsibilities

Sales Director Responsibilities:

  • Strategy: They focus on long-term strategic planning, deciding the sales direction and establishing clear sales goals.
  • Decision-Making: High-level decision-making is a key part of their role, often involving choices that affect the company’s market position.
  • Leadership: Responsible for leading the sales team at a strategic level, they provide direction and inspiration.
  • Communication: They maintain communication with senior management and important stakeholders to align sales with overall business objectives.
TasksSales DirectorSales Manager
Strategy DevelopmentFormulate sales strategies and plansContribute insights to strategic plans
Execution OversightOversee execution of company-wide policiesImplement strategies in sales operations
Performance MonitoringMonitor sales patterns to guide future strategyTrack individual and team performance metrics
Team GuidanceProvide broad guidance and define sales goalsOffer hands-on coaching and training to sales staff
Sales Process ManagementEnsure smooth integration of sales processes with other departmentsDirectly manage and adjust the sales process as needed

Sales Manager Responsibilities:

  • Execution: They manage the daily execution of sales strategies, ensuring that the sales team adheres to established paths.
  • Planning: Sales managers handle the tactical planning necessary for the day-to-day functioning of their sales team.
  • Monitoring: They are tasked with tracking the sales metrics and performance of their sales representatives.
  • Guidance: They provide direct guidance and coaching to the sales team to help achieve sales targets.
  • Communication: Clear communication with the sales director is crucial for aligning the daily sales operations with the larger strategic goals.
  • Leadership: Sales managers exemplify leadership on the frontline, directly managing salespeople and providing immediate oversight.

Sales Manager Salary Vs Sales Director Salary

Salaries for Sales Managers and Sales Directors vary significantly depending on factors such as industry, company size, location, and individual performance. The Sales Manager typically oversees a sales team, focusing on implementing sales strategies and meeting targets, while the Sales Director is responsible for the overall direction of the sales department, making strategic decisions to drive growth.

Average Salary: Based on market trends, the average salary for Sales Managers may range from $60,000 to $120,000 annually, while Sales Directors are often compensated at higher levels, with salaries between $100,000 to $180,000 annually or more, reflecting their seniority and broader scope of responsibilities.

Of course this compensation can vary based on stage of company, industry, and other factors.

Compensation Components:

  • Sales Manager: Base salary, commission, potential bonuses, and benefits.
  • Sales Director: Increased base salary, higher target bonuses, long-term incentive plans, stock options, and benefits.


  • Sales Managers may see salary growth with success in meeting sales goals and expanding team performance.
  • Sales Directors’ compensation can grow with the overall company success and expansion, along with their ability to influence company-wide sales strategies.

The table below summarizes the comparison:

PositionAverage Base SalaryTotal Compensation Range
Sales Manager$60,000 – $120,000Up to $150,000
Sales Director$100,000 – $180,000Up to $250,000+

Market Trends: In recent years, Sales Directors have observed a steady increase in their average salary, potentially due to the heightened need for strategic leadership in an evolving sales environment. Meanwhile, Sales Managers maintain steady earning potential, with some fluctuation based on market performance and individual achievements.

Which Job Title Is Higher, Sales Director or Sales Manager?

In the organizational hierarchy, the job title of Sales Director ranks above that of Sales Manager. Sales Directors hold a higher level of authority and seniority, typically sitting on the company’s leadership team and making strategic decisions affecting the overall sales department.

which job title is higher, sales director or sales manager

Sales Managers, in contrast, are generally positioned below Sales Directors within the organizational structure. They often report directly to the Sales Director and focus on implementing the strategies and goals set by their superiors. Below is a simplified outline of the typical reporting relationships and responsibilities:

PositionResponsibilityReports To
Sales DirectorStrategic planning and oversightVice President / C-level Executives
Sales ManagerExecution of strategy, managing sales teamsSales Director

The Sales Director’s role encompasses setting sales goals, crafting sales plans, and analyzing market trends. They also play a role in the financial forecasting and budgeting for the department.

Sales Managers handle the day-to-day management of the sales force, including hiring, training, and supervising sales representatives. Their immediate concerns revolve around meeting those goals set by the Sales Director and ensuring the sales team’s operational efficiency.

The Sales Director typically assumes a broader scope of responsibilities, wielding more influence over the business’s long-term sales objectives. The Sales Manager executes the director’s vision at a more tactical level, with a focus on the immediate sales activities and team performance.

Sales Manager and Sales Director Skills Compared

While both sales managers and sales directors play important roles in a sales organization, their skills often diverge to cater to their specific responsibilities.

Sales Managers are typically more hands-on and tend to focus on day-to-day management. Their skills are typically centered around:

  • Coaching: They work closely with their sales teams to improve performance.
  • Communication Skills: Essential for daily interactions with the sales team.
  • Meeting Sales Targets: They are directly responsible for ensuring their teams meet sales quotas.
  • Analyzing Sales Data: Utilizing data to inform decisions and strategies for their team.
  • Problem-Solving: They frequently address challenges that their sales team encounters.

In contrast, Sales Directors often have a more strategic role. Key skills for sales directors include:

  • Leadership Skills: They provide direction for the sales managers and their teams.
  • Strategic Planning: Involvement in the creation of long-term sales plans that align with business goals.
  • Sales Strategy: They devise advanced strategies to enter new markets or to sell new products.
  • Marketing: Understanding and working closely with marketing to ensure cohesive strategies.
  • Metrics: Setting and overseeing the key performance indicators for the sales department.

Both roles require substantial sales experience and the ability to adapt to changing markets. Training and development are also key areas where both roles converge, ensuring continuous professional growth within their teams. The development of their respective teams remains a priority, but the approach and breadth of influence differ. The sales manager will often focus on individual and team development, while the director will also consider the overall growth and structure of the sales organization.

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