Save up to 32% with Pipedrive’s annual plan. Sign up for free.

English (US)
Português (BR)
Čeština
Deutsch
Eesti
Español (España)
Español (América Latina)
Français
Bahasa Indonesia
Italiano
Japanese (日本語)
Korean (한국어)
Latviešu valoda
Nederlands
Norsk
Polski
Русский
Suomi
Svenska
Türkçe
Українська
Chinese (繁體中文)
Log in

A guide to the top 15 sales positions (and when you should hire them)

Types of Sales Jobs
Topics
1Sales development representative (SDR)
2Inside sales representative
3Outside sales representative
4Account executive (AE)
5Account manager
6Sales manager
7Customer success manager (CSM)
8Sales engineer
9Sales operations manager
10Regional sales manager
11Director of sales
12Vice president (VP) of sales
13Chief sales officer (CSO)
14Business development manager
15Sales consultant
How do you know when to expand your sales team?
Final thoughts

Hiring for the right sales positions in your business will bring alignment across your organization and streamline your sales process. It makes processes easier and empowers sales reps to do their job as efficiently as possible.

With the right sales positions, your sales team can run like a well-oiled machine – but knowing which sales positions are right for your business is easier said than done. There are many sales-related roles, all of which require different skills and have different responsibilities.

If you want to grow your sales capabilities, you need to learn the ins and outs of each role.

In this article, we'll show you 15 different sales jobs, the responsibilities of each job title and when to hire them for your business.


1. Sales development representative (SDR)

A sales development representative (SDR) is in charge of lead generation and moving leads through the sales pipeline. This position is often considered an entry-level role and a stepping stone into sales.

SDRs spend much of their time looking for potential leads with outbound prospecting, which involves making cold calls and sending cold emails. Then, the SDR will determine if the prospect should move through the sales pipeline and become a qualified lead.

To do this, they find out if your product or service matches the prospect’s budget, needs and timing. If the prospect qualifies, the SDR passes them on to a sales rep to continue the sale and close the deal.

Sales development representatives also have deep product knowledge. They use this knowledge to understand how your product can solve customer problems and accurately assess high-quality leads.

The ideal candidate for a sales development representative position is:

  • A self-starter who has the drive to solve problems

  • An excellent communicator

  • Confident when conducting strategic research, lead generation and outreach

  • Good at time management and organization

  • Able to work independently

  • A self-starter who has the drive to solve problems

When to hire an SDR

Your company will benefit from hiring an SDR when your sales reps or executives need more support. Having an SDR on board frees up their time to close more sales.

Before you hire an SDR, you must already have an ideal customer profile, a compelling value proposition and paying customers with clear pain points your product solves. From here, SDRs can help you streamline your lead generation, reach a bigger portion of the target market and start scaling up.

Average salary for an SDR

The average base salary for a sales development representative in the United States is $46,105, according to PayScale. SDRs can also get bonuses up to $25,000 and commissions up to $26,000.


2. Inside sales representative

An inside sales representative sells products and services remotely rather than face-to-face. Inside sales, also called virtual sales or remote sales, involves using emails, phone calls and video calls to nurture leads and make a sale.

Inside sales reps generate revenue with as little as a reliable internet connection and a way to make phone calls with solid audio. They can sell to anyone, no matter where they are.

An inside salesperson usually works on a predictable schedule. They can break down their weekly or monthly sales quota into the number of calls they need to make per day and remove distractions that don’t help them hit this number.

A great candidate for an inside sales rep position has the following qualities:

  • The ability to pick up verbal and audible cues on sales calls

  • Strong communication and relationship-building skills

  • The drive to consistently uplevel product knowledge

  • Great task prioritization and time management skills

When to hire an inside sales rep

Hiring an inside sales rep is helpful when your business has a remote or hybrid work structure where you’ll want your sales team to contact leads and make sales from their home offices.

It’s also a good move for companies that want to increase sales without wasting resources. There’s no need for sales reps to travel or come into the office to make sales, so you save time and money.

Average salary for an inside sales rep

The average base salary for an inside sales representative in the United States is $46,512, according to PayScale. Inside sales representatives can also get bonuses up to $16,000 and commissions up to $30,000.


3. Outside sales representative

An outside sales representative sells products and services through face-to-face meetings. Also called field sales reps, an outside sales rep meets potential customers at trade shows, industry events or at their offices.

An outside sales rep’s schedule is less structured compared to inside sales. Their office is their base, but they spend most of their time outside of it. They set their own schedule and adjust it to their prospects’ preferences.

An excellent candidate for an outside sales position is:

  • Great at picking up body language cues

  • Comfortable setting their own schedule and working autonomously

  • Highly organized

  • Willing to work with fewer leads

When to hire an outside sales representative

Hiring outside sales reps is a great step for companies aiming for larger deals. It’s unlikely that a lot of prospects will spend large amounts of money on a product or service without having met someone at the company first.

Average salary for an outside sales representative

The average base salary for an outside sales rep in the United States is $51,659, according to PayScale. Outside sales reps can also get bonuses up to $30,000 and commissions up to $48,000.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences between inside and outside sales:

Inside Sales
Outside Sales
Sales conversationsRemoteIn person
Sales CycleShorterLonger

Scalability

EasyDifficult
Close RateLowerHigher
Average Salary (U.S.)$46,000/year$51,000/year
Average Commission (U.S.)$30,000/year$48,000/year


4. Account executive (AE)

An account executive (AE) is in charge of the entire sales cycle, from lead generation through to closing the deal. They also provide after-sales support to boost customer retention and ensure customer satisfaction.

Account executives often collaborate with sales reps, account managers and the customer service team. They build long-term relationships, encourage repeat purchases, expand their customer base and keep churn low.

A strong candidate for an account executive role is:

  • Well-versed in all parts of the sales process

  • Great at building and maintaining relationships

  • Deeply knowledgeable about the market needs and trends

  • Diligent at keeping notes and tracking details about accounts they oversee

  • Able to use sales insights and reporting tools

When to hire an account executive

Account executives are essential for companies that want to go all-in on customer loyalty and build relationships with customers from the ground up. AEs are highly involved in all parts of the customer journey. They have a good understanding of who their customers are, what they want and how to encourage them to buy.

Average salary for an account executive

The average base salary for an account executive is $59,744 in the United States, according to PayScale. Account executives can also get bonuses up to $45,000 and commissions up to $51,000.

Download your guide to managing teams and scaling sales

The blueprint you need to find a team of superstars and build a strong foundation for lasting sales success


5. Account manager

An account manager is in charge of building and maintaining long-term relationships with a company’s customers. They oversee a specific set of assigned customers, connect with key stakeholders in these companies and look for new sales opportunities.

Account managers are the main points of contact between their company and the customer. They become trusted advisors to customers and offer advice to help them make the most of their purchase.

The ideal account manager candidate is:

  • Great at active listening

  • Confident delivering sales presentations

  • Skilled at negotiation

  • Experienced at juggling multiple accounts at the same time

  • Proficient in sales forecasting and reporting

  • Able to collaborate with the sales team

When to hire an account manager

If your business has a growing base of customers, account managers help you manage customer relationships, provide a better customer experience, increase customer lifetime value and reduce churn.

Average salary for an account manager

The average base salary for an account manager in the United States is $58,708, according to PayScale. Account managers can also get bonuses up to $20,000 and commissions up to $38,000.


6. Sales manager

A sales manager is in charge of leading the sales team to reach its goals. They hire and train sales associates, build a strategic sales plan and evaluate the team’s sales performance.

Sales managers set sales goals based on business goals and objectives. They’ll monitor performance and support team members in any way they can if things are falling behind. They also motivate sales reps and boost morale, building a trusting relationship with sales reps to push the entire team forward.

Strong candidates for a sales manager role have the following traits:

  • The ability to recruit, mentor, motivate and influence a team of ambitious sales reps

  • Effective goal-setting skills paired with solid planning skills to hit those goals

  • Knowledge of sales reporting and forecasting

  • Great communication and presentation skills

When to hire a sales manager

Any company with multiple sales reps will benefit from hiring a sales manager. It keeps everyone aligned and focused on the same goal and gives sales reps someone to turn to if they have questions or concerns.

Average salary for a sales manager

The average base salary for a sales manager is $63,507 in the United States, according to PayScale. Sales managers can also get bonuses up to $31,000 and commissions up to $56,000.


7. Customer success manager (CSM)

A customer success manager (CSM) is a liaison between the company and its customers. A CSM onboards clients after purchases, ensures their experience is smooth and builds long-term relationships to boost customer retention.

CSMs are instrumental in helping sales, marketing and product development teams understand customers’ needs and behaviors. As a result, these teams can maximize their efforts and boost company profits.

A sales resume for a great CSM candidate will have the following skills and sales experience:

  • Experience providing quality customer service and addressing customer concerns

  • The ability to lead, train and manage a team

  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills across company departments

  • Technical aptitude

When to hire a customer success manager

If your business wants to reduce customer churn, hiring a customer success manager is a good place to start. Their goal is to drive recurring purchases, track the health of customer accounts, train customers and turn them into customer advocates.

Average salary for a customer success manager

The average base salary for a customer success manager is $72,440 in the United States, according to PayScale. Customer success managers can also get bonuses up to $24,000 and commissions up to $30,000.


8. Sales engineer

A sales engineer sells technical products to businesses. They have unique product knowledge and specialize in complex, advanced solutions. They help sales reps grasp the technical aspects of the solution they’re selling so they can explain it to customers and close the deal.

Sales engineers are also masters at explaining advanced products and concepts in an easy-to-understand way. They deliver technical presentations and product demonstrations to prospects to show how the product works and why it’s the best solution for their needs.

Here are some skills and experience that make a great sales engineer candidate:

  • A relevant technical degree, or a degree in engineering, computer science, mathematics, IT or applied science

  • Exceptional problem-solving skills

  • Great presentation skills

  • The ability to convey complex topics and solutions clearly and simply

  • Efficient collaboration

  • Deep knowledge of the sales process, including potential bottlenecks and key activities that move prospects forward

When to hire a sales engineer

If your company sells technical products, you’ll benefit from hiring a sales engineer. They’ll be able to pitch your product, provide a demonstration and take care of any setup and onboarding for your customers.

Average salary for a sales engineer

The average base salary for a sales engineer is $74,808 in the United States, according to PayScale. Sales engineers can also get bonuses up to $27,000 and commissions up to $43,000.


9. Sales operations manager

A sales operations manager is in charge of the processes, tools and technologies used by the sales team. They reduce friction in day-to-day sales activities, which helps salespeople improve efficiency and increase productivity.

Sales operations managers often simplify and streamline complex workflows with a CRM. With this software, the sales team can better manage their sales. For example, they can instantly see the number of deals in their workflow, the average deal size and value, how many deals are won and how long it takes to close a deal.

A solid sales operations manager candidate will have:

  • Experience using your CRM tool of choice, from optimizing processes to building dashboards to running reports

  • The ability to turn a sales strategy into processes, automations and systems for your sales team

  • Great communication and leadership skills

  • The ability to teach, motivate and incentivize sales reps

When to hire a sales operations manager

If you want to increase productivity and streamline your sales process, hiring a sales operation manager can help. They’ll integrate useful tools, build a useful tech stack and help sales reps manage their leads as efficiently as possible.

Average salary for a sales operations manager

The average base salary for a sales operations manager is $82,139 in the United States, according to PayScale. Sales operations managers can also get bonuses up to $20,000 and commissions up to $41,000.


10. Regional sales manager

A regional sales manager oversees sales activities, operations and performance in a specific area. They know their region in-depth and understand how different factors can influence demand and sales numbers. They’re able to adapt to patterns and trends – and hire new sales reps if needed.

Regional sales managers also provide support to sales managers and teams in their territory. They train and motivate the teams they oversee, work with them to hit their sales goals and report on regional sales results.

Here are some qualities of a great regional sales manager candidate:

  • A wide knowledge of the local target market and competitors in their territory

  • The ability to motivate, lead and coach sales managers and reps

  • Confidence in creating sales reports and forecasts

  • Skills for presenting reports

  • Experience in building a clear sales strategy and hitting sales objectives

When to hire a regional sales manager

You should hire regional sales managers when your global reach becomes wide enough to divide it into territories. For example, a real estate firm can split a single country into territories. A software company may divide its sales operations into EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and the United States.

Average salary for a regional sales manager

The average base salary for a regional sales manager is $84,273 in the United States, according to PayScale. Regional sales managers can also get bonuses up to $39,000 and commissions up to $51,000.


11. Director of sales

A director of sales is a high-level management role that oversees and directs sales teams. They train sales managers, create annual sales targets and build key sales strategies to hit company targets.

The director of sales has a birds-eye view of where the company is now and where it needs to be. They work with the marketing team, sales operations managers and financial managers to align sales activities with the bigger picture.

Here are some of the skills and experience a director of sales should have:

  • Outstanding track record in sales

  • Proven history of implementing changes and strategies that boost a company’s growth

  • The ability to develop streamlined sales processes to improve company-wide efficiency

  • Sales forecasting and reporting skills that inform sales strategies

When to hire a director of sales

It’s the right time to hire a director of sales when the company is growing fast. A director of sales will keep this growth in sync with the company's overarching goals.

Average salary for a director of sales

The average base salary for a director of sales is $103,805 in the United States, according to PayScale. Directors of sales can also get bonuses up to $50,000 and commissions up to $70,000.


12. Vice president (VP) of sales

Vice president (VP) of sales is another senior management role. They set sales goals and objectives and work with the director of sales to create successful sales strategies.

The VP of sales has a varied role, with responsibilities that change based on the size and structure of the company. Their responsibilities often include reporting to the board of directors, analyzing current revenue figures to understand the company's trajectory and planning the company's strategic direction.

An excellent candidate for a VP of sales role will have:

  • Multiple years of experience in sales leadership (C-level leadership a bonus)

  • An extensive track record of setting and hitting an organization’s sales goals

  • Great communication, mentorship and relationship-building skills

  • A strong strategic mindset and creative thinking skills

When to hire a vice president of sales

The sweet spot for hiring a VP of sales is when your company catches strong momentum with leads, sales and revenue growth. This is when a VP of sales can keep the sales organization aligned with the market, the company’s goals and its vision.

Average salary for a vice president of sales

The average base salary for a VP of sales is $148,500 in the United States, according to PayScale. VPs of sales can also get bonuses up to $83,000 and commissions up to $100,000.


13. Chief sales officer (CSO)

A chief sales officer (CSO) is in charge of leading and managing the entire sales function of a company. They manage the company’s VP of sales and oversee all sales activities of the company, making them the highest sales position in an organization.

A CSO’s main focuses are leadership, strategy and evaluation. They assess the effectiveness of sales, operations and customer support to ensure the company hits sales targets and achieves its business goals. This includes analyzing sales channels, competitors, the market and the company’s sales initiatives.

Here are some of the skills you’ll want to look for when it comes to the chief sales officer position:

  • Deep analytical skills, including performance and competitive analysis

  • Exceptional communication and leadership skills, with the ability to move a group of diverse people with different skill sets in the same direction

  • The ability to manage change as the company grows and scales

  • Business acumen and in-depth understanding of market complexities

When to hire a chief sales officer

If your business is growing and your sales leaders need support, it may be time to add a chief sales officer. They’ll oversee all sales operations and provide support to your sales managers, helping them keep their sales reps on track to reach your sales targets.

Average salary for a chief sales officer

The average base salary for a chief sales officer is $174,721 in the United States, according to PayScale. Chief sales officers can also get bonuses up to $100,000 and commissions up to $140,000.


14. Business development manager

A business development manager is responsible for identifying new business opportunities. They focus on how to generate more revenue, improve profitability and help your business grow.

A lot of the role involves strategic planning with the sales team. The business development manager will use the sales strategy to inform their research and find the best areas for growth and opportunity.

Take a look at some of the skills a business development manager should have:

  • An analytical eye to spot room for improvement

  • Skills for researching and identifying new business opportunities

  • Experience with reporting and forecasting

  • Able to analyze the market (and where your company sits within it)

  • Confidence in communicating with both colleagues and customers

When to hire a business development manager

If your business is performing well but you haven’t seen significant growth in a while, consider hiring a business development manager. Their role is to pinpoint areas of opportunity to help your business grow and develop.

Average salary for a business development manager

The average salary for a business development manager is $76,446 in the United States, according to PayScale. A business development manager can also get bonuses up to $31,000 and commissions up to $41,000.


15. Sales consultant

A sales consultant is an experienced sales representative. They have a proven track record of success and a deep knowledge of the marketplace. They can either be hired as a full-time member of your team or as a part-time freelance consultant.

Their responsibilities include sourcing quality leads, building customer relationships, pitching your product or service and nurturing leads through the sales funnel.

Here are some of the skills to look out for when hiring a sales consultant:

  • Able to identify qualified leads

  • A good understanding of your industry

  • Impressive communication skills

  • A strong track record for sales

  • Confidence in presenting and pitching products

When to hire a sales consultant

Companies will often hire a sales consultant when they need an expert on hand. If your sales are dropping or your target market has changed, a sales consultant will help you align your sales activity to increase your sales.

Average salary for a sales consultant

The average salary for a sales consultant is $55,148 in the United States, according to PayScale. A sales consultant can also get bonuses up to $40,000 and commissions up to $64,000.


How do you know when to expand your sales team?

Let’s take a look at some situations where, as a business owner or sales leader, you might expand your sales team to support the growth of your business.

You have a strong (and growing) sales record

Has your company seen consistent growth over the last year or so? If the answer is yes, you may want to think about growing your sales capabilities.

Expanding your sales team can help you scale your sales capabilities and continue growing your strong sales record. For example, if you hire a business development manager, you’ll find new ways to grow your sales and expand your business.

Hiring a sales manager might also be a good option at this stage. With a managerial figure in place, you’ll have someone to create a sales strategy that promotes growth. With this strategy in place, you’ll break out of your existing rut and (hopefully) see more sales.

You’re struggling to keep up with demand

If you have too many prospects and leads coming into your pipeline and not enough people to handle them, it’s time to expand your sales team.

Bringing more sales reps on board will help you manage all these leads without letting any slip through the cracks. You’ll offer a better customer experience and increase your ability to nurture leads from initial contact to closing the deal.

An inbound sales representative could also be a good choice in this situation. Adding this role would allow you to improve your lead management without increasing your outgoing costs too much. You’ll have to pay a salary for your new inbound rep, but you won’t have to pay for them to travel anywhere to meet new prospects.

You’re launching a new product or service

Whenever you’re launching a new product or service, you need to review your resources and capacity. This means taking a look at who’s on your sales team, what their roles are and how they can support the new product going to market.

In many cases, you might find that your business needs more sales professionals to launch a new product. For example, you might want to bring in an expert (like a sales consultant) to guide the launch and ensure it’s successful.

You might also consider hiring more sales development reps to handle existing leads while other sales reps focus on launching and promoting the new product. That way, your existing customers won’t suffer while most of your sales reps are busy elsewhere.


Final thoughts

Hiring for the right sales roles can make or break the success of your sales team. Understanding what each sales position is, the responsibilities it carries and how it fits within your company puts you in a much better place to hire the right ones.

To manage the hiring process, take a look at Pipedrive’s recruitment CRM. Use our software to manage applicants, track applications in real time and streamline your recruitment process.

Managing teams ebook

Download your guide to managing teams and scaling sales

The blueprint you need to find a team of superstars and build a strong foundation for lasting sales success

Share your thoughts with our Community

Start or continue the conversation with like-minded sales and marketing professionals on our Community.

Join our Community