Area Manager Job Description - Tasks, Duties, Career Path
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What Does an Area Manager Do?
Area managers are the interface between a company’s top sales management and its network of salespeople or sales branches. Area managers are in charge of sales strategy and are personally responsible for meeting sales and revenue targets for their assigned geographical area.
Area Manager: What do they do?
Area managers are key figures in the sales network of any major business and are found in all sectors, including retail, supermarket, food, energy, telecommunications, automotive, pharmaceuticals and insurance.
A company’s top sales management assigns its area managers their area’s sales targets, the deadlines the targets need to be met by, and the budget available with which to do it. For their assigned sales area, area managers are responsible for:
drawing up an area sales plan, leading their team of salespeople, agents and representatives to reach sales and market share targets, acquiring new clients, recruiting new agents and salespeople where necessary, in collaboration with HR, and assigning them to a specific area, and developing new business opportunities.
If a sales network consists of sales outlets, an area manager is in charge of coordinating the store managers with the aim of ensuring sales and profit targets are met, taking action to close any gaps against targets, maintaining and growing the client base, contributing actively to the selection and training of sales outlet staff, acting as the interface between head office and branches, and ensuring compliance with company guidelines in relation to products, internal procedures, sales techniques and visual merchandising.
As part of their efforts to expand and strengthen their sales networks, area managers have a variety of tools at their disposal, including the use of key performance indicators (KPIs), which can be employed to measure progress against a series of objectives. The use of KPIs enables area managers to take effective action, set appropriate targets, establish targeted incentives and motivate or provide support to underperforming areas. Area managers are also responsible for managing their client portfolios, with a view to maintaining existing clients and exploring potential new business opportunities.
Area managers also provide feedback to top sales management with regard to the market situation, client needs and actions by competitors, and contribute to business development. They prepare periodical reports on their own activities and on the results achieved by their assigned area, for use by sales top management in defining long-term sales strategies and also interface with other company departments, such as production and especially with marketing department managers, to coordinate sales support activities.
The skills required by an Area Manager relate to two main areas: on the one hand, business and financial expertise, a knowledge of market analysis and sales planning and control skills are all important. But equally essential are the people management and leadership abilities needed to lead a team of salespeople and a network of sales outlets to achieve their targets.
In medium and large size businesses and multinationals, area managers are, generally speaking, full-time employees of the sales department. The work is office-based, although area managers will be expected to be available to travel for work and go on business trips, particularly in sectors such as retail, where monitoring the situation on the ground, in person, can be very useful.
Working hours are usually standard, full-time office hours, although at times it may be necessary to work overtime (for example, in the event of important meetings, appointments with major clients, or when deadlines are approaching).
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Area Manager: Duties, Responsibilities and Tasks
The main duties and responsibilities of an area manager include:
- Analyzing the market and studying the assigned sales area and current and potential clientele
- Developing an action plan, planning budget expenditure, assigning targets to salespeople, defining incentives
- Working to develop the client portfolio
- Developing and strengthening commercial partnerships
- Evaluating performance of team and individual salespeople
- Making adjustments to area plan as and when necessary
- Producing periodical reports on activities and results for the assigned sales area
How to Become an Area Manager: Education and Training
Job adverts for area managers usually require candidates to have a degree in Economics (or at least some form of business-related education), together with substantial experience in sales of goods and/or services.
The type of training and qualifications required will depend to a large extent on the sector, as it is essential for an area manager to possess a detailed knowledge of the market and the characteristics of the products the company is selling (e.g. machinery, consumer goods, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, clothing, insurance etc.).
Also important are strong all-round IT skills and a knowledge of foreign languages, particularly if the assigned sales area is abroad.
Area Manager Skills and Requirements
To work as an area manager requires the following skills:
- Financial and operational planning skills
- Knowledge of market and assigned sales area
- Sales and management skills
- Decision-making and leadership skills
- Result-oriented approach
- Communications and interpersonal skills
- Resistance to stress
- Ambition and desire to learn and succeed
What's the Career Path of an Area Manager?
Becoming an Area Manager may be seen as the culmination of a career in sales that starts from an entry-level position, such as salesperson, agent or representative and progresses as a worker acquires experience, learns how to sell effectively and gains familiarity with a particular territory and the business opportunities it offers.
The precise stages of a career in sales will of course vary according to the organizational structure of the company. One possible career path, for example, might see a salesperson progressing to agency manager, sales outlet manager or branch manager, and from there to area manager. And there’s no reason why a career should end there. An area manager may continue to progress up the career ladder, taking on increasing responsibility for even larger national areas (e.g. as country manager) or international areas, until finally securing a role at the top of a company’s sales area, as the head of sales or general sales manager.
Top Reasons to Work as an Area Manager
A job as area manager is an excellent opportunity for anybody with significant sales experience who wishes to put their skills to use and make a significant contribution to growing a company’s business.
The position brings with it a number of important responsibilities, including those associated with ensuring a sales team meets its sales targets, but there are also a great many rewards to be had - not least among them the satisfaction of seeing how strong managerial expertise and skilled leadership of a sales team can be instrumental in propelling a company to success, allowing it to strengthen its market position and grow its business over time.