What is a sales champion? (A 6-step guide to this career)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you wish to become a sales champion, also known as a customer success manager, it's important to know how to build trusting relationships between a client and your colleagues. This makes it easier for either party to end a sales meeting confident that they're securing a good deal. By reading this guide, you can discover the action you can take to establish yourself in this profession. In this article, we define the term 'sales champion', provide salary information, outline a six-step to building a career in this field and detail relevant skills.

What is a sales champion?

As a sales champion, you work as an intermediary between your colleagues and a commercial client, helping the latter party to sell their products to your firm. Given your inside knowledge of colleagues' working habits, you can provide crucial advice on how clients can secure a sale. For example, you can help a client to arrange a meeting with the relevant stakeholder, or contact past clients to organise repeat purchases. Depending on your chosen industry, you may specialise in assisting sellers of a specific type of product.

The list below details the typical responsibilities of a customer success manager:

  • specifying the type of product that your organisation wishes to buy

  • referring potential clients to your colleagues

  • explaining how the bidding process works so that clients can submit bids in a legal manner

  • advising firms on how to compete against rival bidders

  • helping their firm to integrate the client's product into their operations

  • organising repeat purchases of a product

Related: What is inside sales? (with sales strategies and tips)

Salary information for customer success managers

The average salary for a customer success manager is £35,346 per year. This figure represents the median salary across an entire industry Depending on your own experience, location and technical skills, your actual income could vary significantly from this figure. For example, if you're working in this role for a firm in Cambridge, you may earn £54,459 per year. In contrast, the average figure for customer success managers working in Portsmouth is £29,281 per year, well below the UK average.

How to become a customer success manager

Given the technical knowledge and procurement experience associated with the position, it can take time to advance your career to this level. The section below includes a six-step guide, explaining how you can start a career in this field:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Before you apply for a job in this profession, it's important to enrol on a sales-related undergraduate course, to build up relevant subject knowledge. During your studies, you may complete a range of modules on topics related to procurement in business, such as good marketing practice or digital sales, to bolster your subject knowledge. By earning such a degree, you may also prove to potential employers that you're suitably skilled to perform the tasks expected of you.

Many British universities offer bachelor's courses related to a career in sales management. For example, the University of Chester provides a three-year (BA) Marketing Management course. During your studies, you can enrol on modules related to this career path, assessed via coursework and exams. You can also undertake this course on a part-time basis, which you could find useful if you're balancing work and education.

2. Apply for an internship

To stand out against rival candidates in the job market, you could find it useful to apply for an internship with a business sales department. Here you can learn more about how sales teams conduct business with clients, working under the guidance of an experienced professional. For example, you might complete administrative duties on your mentor's behalf, filing paperwork to record the details of a sale. Conversely, you may sit in on team meetings, to learn about how sales teams collaborate to secure a deal with a client. You can then detail these experiences on your CV.

If you're balancing an internship with university, you could prefer to apply to schemes that run in summer, to prevent clashes between work and study. It's also advisable to consider your own finances before starting an internship, as some schemes operate on an unpaid basis.

Related: Internship CV examples and how to craft your own

3. Apply for entry-level jobs

After graduating from university, you can start applying for entry-level sales jobs. By securing such a position, you can establish yourself in the industry, before gradually building up the skills and experience to progress to a more senior level. In this situation, it's useful to analyse job postings in detail, comparing their specifications to your own attributes, to increase your chances of success.

If you're applying for your first professional sales job, it's useful to design a CV that highlights your desirable traits, such as education and key skills. For example, you may detail any part-time jobs that you've previously held, explaining how you built up skills relevant to this position. You may also discuss your time at university, dissecting specific modules that you feel are most relevant to the role's responsibilities.

Related: Writing a CV with no experience

4. Learn more about the industry

After establishing yourself in sales, you may find it useful to conduct research into your industry. By doing so, you may become more aware of the complex processes involved in negotiating lucrative procurement deals. You can then reflect this knowledge in your routine work, to help the business to remain competitive against its commercial rivals. You may then find it easier to earn a promotion or a higher-paid job offer from another firm.

You can take various steps to improve your technical expertise as a customer success manager. For example, you can opt to subscribe to a professional published by a chartered body, to learn about new sales and management trends as they emerge. Conversely, you may follow other firms' activities via a professional social media website, to discover new ways of competing with them.

Related: What are the most important sales skills?

5. Network with other sales professionals

To further grow your presence as a customer success manager, you may find it useful to attend networking events, such as trade fairs or seminars. You could then establish contacts at the firms represented at these events, before using them to attract interest if your firm tenders a procurement contract. By cultivating these ties over time, you can build a reputation in the industry as a high-skilled and connected individual, encouraging new clients to do business with you.

You can also use networking events to build up confidence by communicating with other sales professionals. In this situation, you could ask for advice about career paths, or learn how to build close relationships with a client. You can then apply this newfound knowledge at work, making it easier for you to advance your career as a result.

Related: The benefits of networking and how to get the best results

6. Earn professional certifications

If you wish to specialise in a niche area of sales, you may opt to earn one or more professional certifications. By doing so, you can learn more about a set aspect of procurement, to help you to compete for higher-paid roles as a sales professional.

For example, you could enrol on the Diploma in Management Level 7 course, provided by the Institute of Sales Management. This course includes a series of modules, where you can learn about important areas of sales management, such as setting budgets or working with clients. You may also study theory and best practices, to ensure you can conduct negotiations successfully. By completing this course, you're in a stronger position to manage a complex sales process.

Related: What are certifications, their benefits and types?

What are this position's key skills?

Besides certifications or paid experience, it's also important that you have the right soft and technical skills to succeed in this profession. By accruing these skills early on in your career, you may find it easier to establish a good reputation as a diligent and capable sales professional. You may then earn a promotion more quickly, boosting your earning potential as a result.

Useful skills include:

  • Communication: It's important to clearly communicate your firm's budget and expectations to clients, so they can provide a suitable solution.

  • Technical Knowledge: It's useful to understand the product that you're dealing with, so you can offer more tailored advice on how to sell it to your colleagues.

  • Confidence: You can also benefit from being confident in your own abilities as a customer success manager. You may then find it easier to persuade clients to accept the price offered.

  • Empathy: It's also important to consider the client's interests, helping both them and your firm to earn a good deal.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles