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General Manager vs. Sales Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A general manager and a sales manager are both responsible for overseeing the operations of a company or department. Though they share some similarities, there are several key differences between these two positions. In this article, we discuss the duties of a general manager and a sales manager, and we explain the differences between these two management positions.

What is a General Manager?

A General Manager is responsible for the overall operation of a company or business unit. They develop and implement strategies and objectives to ensure that the company or business unit meets its goals. General Managers also develop and oversee budgets, and they monitor financial performance to ensure that the company or business unit is operating efficiently and effectively. They also develop and implement marketing and sales plans to generate revenue and grow the business. In addition, General Managers are responsible for hiring, training and developing employees.

What is a Sales Manager?

Sales Managers are responsible for leading and coordinating a team of salespeople. They develop sales strategies and plans, set sales targets and quotas, and oversee sales training and development programs. Sales Managers also evaluate customer needs and market trends to identify new business opportunities. They work closely with other departments within the company to ensure that sales goals are aligned with business objectives. Sales Managers typically have a background in sales, marketing, or business administration.

General Manager vs. Sales Manager

Here are the main differences between a general manager and a sales manager.

Job Duties

General managers oversee the operations of a business, while sales managers focus on increasing sales. This involves different duties. For example, a general manager might manage the budget and expenses for a company. They also might research market conditions for their industry and location to determine where they can take their company in terms of growth. A sales manager might create a sales plan for their team to follow. They might set goals for their employees and track progress to ensure success. Sales managers often schedule meetings with clients to discuss products and make orders.

Job Requirements

To become a general manager or sales manager, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing or another related field. Many employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many general managers and sales managers pursue certifications through the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) or the American Management Association (AMA). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use management software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

General managers and sales managers work in different environments. General managers typically oversee the operations of an entire company, so they spend most of their time in offices or other locations where they can communicate with employees and executives. They may travel to visit different locations and meet with clients.

Sales managers usually manage a specific department within a company, such as customer service or shipping. As a result, they often spend most of their time at that department’s location. Sales managers also travel frequently to attend trade shows and meet with clients.


There are several similarities in the skills needed for a general manager and sales manager. Both roles require excellent communication skills, as they will be responsible for communicating with employees, customers and other stakeholders. They also both need to have strong organizational skills to manage their team and keep track of deadlines and goals. Additionally, both roles benefit from having leadership qualities, as they will be responsible for motivating and inspiring their team.

However, there are also some differences in the skills needed for these two roles. A general manager needs to have a more well-rounded skillset, as they are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the business. This includes financial management, human resources, marketing and product development. A sales manager, on the other hand, is primarily responsible for leading the sales team and ensuring that targets are met. As such, they need to have a deep understanding of sales strategies and techniques. They also need to be able to motivate their team and help them close deals.


The average salary for a general manager is $63,331 per year, while the average salary for a sales manager is $83,778 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which you work and the level of experience you have.


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