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, 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 a 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, adding 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 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 familiarity 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 $132,132 per year.
Let’s break down the typical day-to-day responsibilities of a sales analyst and the key skills needed to execute them:
1. Develop projections and forecasts.
Combining and analyzing data to forecast sales trends is a crucial part of the job. Ultimately, your insights will guide your organization to make smarter decisions when setting goals, budgeting, prospecting, and other revenue-impacting factors. In many cases, a sales analyst will also examine the potential revenue growth of various proposals.
2. Communicate with company leadership regularly.
Because of the data-driven nature of the job, you may assume a sales analyst only needs sharp technical skills — but strong communication skills are equally essential. You should be comfortable sharing reports and demonstrating an ability to diagnose problems and implement solutions.
For instance, you may need to condense complex or technical information into a palatable and easy-to-understand presentation for company leadership. You may also lead staff meetings to explain new sales trends or strategies.
3. Monitor and evaluate sales performance.
One of the chief duties of a sales analyst is assessing sales data for an organization — specifically examining monthly, quarterly, and annual reports to identify trends, patterns, and areas for growth or improvement.
Additionally, sales analysts examine market data, customer metrics, and competitor activity to identify areas where an organization can increase its efforts.
Sales reporting, data analytics, and competency in spreadsheet and database management.
4. Guide marketing and supply chain efforts.
A sales analyst may work as a consultant across sales, marketing, and even supply chain departments.
For example, a sales analyst may advise marketing teams in the development of campaigns. Pulling insights from their data, they can identify markets to target with advertising and marketing efforts.
Ability to work independently and with cross-functional teams.
Sales Analyst Job Descriptions
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
A sales analyst doesn’t just crunch the numbers — they help steer the ship when it comes to important decision-making in sales and marketing.
If you think this role is right for you, consider broadening your technical skills and boosting your resume with relevant certifications. And if you’re starting from the ground up, seek out entry-level sales or accounting positions to kick start your new career path.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on June 6, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.