Considering a career in sales but want something that pushes the limits of a traditional sales rep’s role? Enter, the sales analyst. It’s a sales operations role that’s less about selling a product or service to customers and more about selling next steps and solutions to your internal sales team.
The result? A career and career path that draws heavily on your ability to think critically, analyze complex data, and communicate your results clearly to peers and executives.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the career trajectory of a sales analyst and what you can expect to earn at each stage. Finally, we’ll look at real-life sales analyst job descriptions, so you know what to expect when you start the hunt for your next move.
Sales Analyst Career Path
1. Sales Analyst
A sales analyst’s job is to increase sales and revenue for a company. This is achieved by running competitive analysis, conducting forecasting, and making recommendations on how the sales, marketing, and other teams should move forward.
A sales analyst might even coordinate with the marketing team on how to run successful campaigns, or work with the supply chain team to make production or inventory run smoothly.
While there are no specific education requirements you’ll see across the board, a bachelor’s degree in statistics, math, market research, or computer science is a plus — and a master’s degree in a related field can increase pay and make promotions more accessible.
2. Senior Sales Analyst
The next step in your career growth is as senior sales analyst. It generally also means a pay bump — with an average annual salary of $79,347. The responsibilities are similar to that of a sales analyst, but may call for more advanced data collection, statistical software use, and the conversion of complex data into easily digestible presentations, graphs, or reports.
This role might also be more client or management-facing, sharing the results of a whole team of analysts. Many senior sales analyst positions require, or strongly prefer, a master’s degree in market research or a related field, but certifications can be a valuable way to boost your resume. The International Institute of Market Research and Analytics offers a Certified Market Research Professional (CMRP) exam worth looking into.
3. Financial Analyst
Forecasting, long-term financial planning, and operational and financial reporting are just a few of the skills you’ll hone in on this position. It might sound similar to a sales analyst position, but it requires you to focus on one area and master it.
Your ability to analyze results in Business Intelligence (BI) Applications like Looker, Tableau, or Qlik will give you a leg up when speaking to your experience creating data models. And forecasting to increase team or business efficiency, business planning, and staffing requirements will broaden your scope outside that of a traditional sales analyst.
With greater expertise comes a higher salary. Financial analysts receive an average base salary of $70,809 annually.
4. National Account Manager
If you’re ready for a new challenge, you might make the eventual jump to national account manager. In this role, you’d serve as the liaison for client relationships, communicating sales and marketing messages and assisting in the management of the account.
Outlining sales goals, defining budgets, and setting margin targets are tasks you’d oversee. You’d also likely provide monthly or quarterly sales overviews outlining wins and challenges the account faced over that period of time.
You might also work directly with the legal team to iron out proposals and other contract initiatives. Finally, working to add value to existing accounts would be an important part of the role.
Whether developing promotional materials or desirable services or programs for your clients, searching for new ways to keep them as a customer is a major focus for this type of role. The good news? The average annual base pay for a national account manager increases to $95,000.
5. Sales Operations Manager
A sales operations manager still relies heavily on your ability to use BI software, analyze data, and interpret results that will drive strategic decisions. But instead of being client-facing, your focus rests internally on supporting the front lines of your sales team.
You should expect to need expert-level Excel and SQL knowledge, have experience solving complex business problems, and maybe even have an M.B.A.. The average base pay for a sales operations manager is $97,370 annually.
6. Finance Director
Once you’ve proven your ability to manage the financial health of a sales team, you might be ready to take on more responsibility as a finance director. In this role, you’ll be responsible for your company’s overall financial well-being. Both operational and strategic, you’ll put your forecasting skills to use creating a financial roadmap for the business.
You should have demonstrated experience analyzing and communicating complex financial information and be familiar with the software your company uses. Show your history of reporting, creating strategies, and communicating results in a concise, jargon-free way. The national salary average for a finance director is $136,475.
7. Director of Sales Operations
As director of sales operations, you’ll work with many of the analysts and other previous roles we’ve discussed to identify an overall strategic vision and roadmap for the sales organization at your company.
You’ll likely develop key performance indicators for your salespeople to hit, meet with sales leaders to discuss challenges and ways forward, and listen to your analysts to determine strategic steps forward in your industry.
You’ll lean heavily on your analytical background to understand the information presented to you. And at this stage in your career, you have at least 10 years of experience and a proven track record in the business. Base pay for this position averages in at $132,132 per year.
A sales analyst may be asked to work across sales, marketing, and even supply chain departments. Forecasting will likely be a crucial part of the role, and you should demonstrate excellent communication skills.
For example, you might consider sharing a time when you condensed complex or technical information into a palatable and easy-to-understand presentation — and make sure to mention how you measured success.
You should be comfortable sharing your results with executives and demonstrate the ability to not only diagnose problems but implement solutions as well. Have statistics or predictive modeling experience or class work? Be sure to mention that. And highlight any experience in Excel, Demand Caster, Net Suite, or other statistical software, also.
If you’re like me, you learn best by seeing things in the real world. So, here are a few actual job descriptions for sales analyst positions and above.
Sales Analyst Job Description Example
Image source: Encore Access
Sales Reporting Analyst Job Description Example Image source: HubSpot
Financial Analyst Job Description Example
Image source: HubSpot
Sales Operations Analyst Job Description Example
Image source: HubSpot
So, do you think a sales analyst role is right for you? If so, jumpstart your industry knowledge with this ultimate guide to strategic planning for perfect sales operations.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 6, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.