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

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

Sales directors and sales managers are both responsible for overseeing the sales teams in their organizations. Though their duties may overlap, there are several key differences between these two positions. In this article, we discuss the job responsibilities of a sales director and a sales manager, and we provide tips for those interested in pursuing a career in sales management.

What is a Sales Director?

Sales Directors develop and oversee an organization’s sales policies, objectives and initiatives. They work with other members of the executive team to create long-term plans and strategies that will increase sales and grow the business. Sales Directors also create budgets and forecast sales numbers for the upcoming year. They oversee the sales team and provide guidance and support to sales managers and sales representatives. Sales Directors typically have a background in sales and management. They use their knowledge and experience to train and motivate the sales team to reach their goals.

What is a Sales Manager?

Sales Managers are responsible for leading and motivating a team of salespeople to reach their individual and collective sales targets. They work with their team to develop sales strategies and plans, set quotas, and track progress. Sales Managers also provide training and development opportunities for their team, and work to resolve any conflicts that may arise. In addition, Sales Managers liaise with other departments within the company to ensure that the sales team has the resources and support they need to be successful.

Sales Director vs. Sales Manager

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

Job Duties

Sales directors have a lot of responsibilities, but their primary duty is to manage the sales team and ensure that all goals are met. Sales directors also help with creating new campaigns and strategies for reaching those goals. They may work with the marketing or advertising teams to do this.

Sales managers oversee individual salespeople and make sure they’re completing their daily and monthly tasks. They coach these employees and provide feedback on how they can improve. Sales managers usually work more closely with customers than sales directors do and often report customer information to their director so they can make strategic decisions.

Job Requirements

Sales directors and sales managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing or another related field. However, some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well. Additionally, many sales directors and sales managers pursue certifications through the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) or the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use sales software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Sales directors typically work in an office environment, but they may travel to meet with clients and attend conferences. Sales managers usually work in a retail or customer service setting where they can interact directly with customers. They also spend time on the road visiting different locations and meeting with sales representatives.


Sales directors and sales managers share some similarities in the skills they use on the job. Both roles require excellent communication skills, as they need to be able to clearly articulate their vision for a product or service to potential customers. They also both need to have strong negotiation skills to haggle over prices and close deals.

However, there are some key differences in the skills needed for these two positions. Sales directors typically need to have more experience than sales managers. They also need to be more strategic in their thinking, as they are responsible for developing long-term plans for their team. Additionally, sales directors need to have strong leadership skills to motivate and manage their team. In contrast, sales managers need to be more organized and detail-oriented, as they are responsible for managing day-to-day operations and ensuring that targets are met.


Sales directors can earn an average salary of $129,231 per year, while sales managers can earn an average salary of $83,778 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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