Export sales manager
Sales & Buyers

Export sales managers work to manage sales of overseas goods or services. They need a good knowledge of overseas markets and negotiate and organise contracts with companies abroad. This could include visiting these companies, negotiating sales, looking for new sales opportunities, working on product launches, developing strategies and targets and managing a team of sales representatives. It could also include organising the transportation of products and collection of payments.

Work Activities

This is dependent on the level of the post but could include:

  • Arranging transport and collection
  • Developing strategies and set targets for sales
  • Management of a sales team
  • Monitoring of sales targets
  • Motivation of staff
  • Keeping aware of trends within markets abroad
  • Close working with the marketing department.
  • Keeping track of competitor's activities within the market and how this affects business.
  • Working closely with senior management to inform company strategy
  • Deciding what and how to sell abroad.
  • Negotiating deadlines for supply of goods or services
  • Monitoring orders.
  • Working on sales reports and budgeting.
  • Testing new products and introducing these to customers.
  • Average hours are 40 per week though these can be longer and unpredictable as the work is deadline driven. There are very few part time opportunities.
  • Having to spend weeks at a time abroad
  • Promotion can be within the company through taking on more responsibility and a greater or more lucrative sales area. There could also be promotion to senior management or director level.
  • Salaries can be made up of a basic salary, expenses and commission.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for export sales managers

You will need to have:

  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work to deadlines
  • Good report writing skills
  • Budgeting and sales analysis skills
  • Ability to work in a pressurised environment.
  • IT skills
  • An ability to manage and motivate a team.
  • A knowledge and interest in foreign markets and trade.
  • An understanding of foreign trade regulations and tariffs.
  • A developing understanding of the ethical, cultural and business background of the countries you are working with.
  • Knowledge of contracts both in the UK and abroad
  • Good negotiation abilities
  • It would be an advantage if you have studied economics and are good at maths.
  • Being able to speak a second language is an asset
  • You may need a full, clean driving licence.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of export sales managers

  • Export companies
  • Multinational companies
  • Shipping and freight
  • Banks
  • Insurance companies
  • Warehouse management

Vacancies are advertised online on job sites and employers' own websites, newspapers, professional journals.



There are routes into export sales management through both school leaver, HND and graduate and postgraduate routes.

Previous sales experience is important and is often through working in an export department of a large organisation. It is possible to do an apprenticeship, for instance the Level 2 Certificate in International Trade and Logistics Operations is part of an intermediate apprenticeship, and HNC/HND courses such as International Trade and Business. Many export sales managers are employed after doing a degree such as BSc in Management Practice (International Trade), business studies or sales and marketing. There are also postgraduate courses.

In Scotland entry to relevant degree courses will require 4-5 Highers A-C or 1-2 Highers and strong National 5s including Maths and English for entry to HND programmes. The degree can be in many subjects, but Business, Marketing and Languages are common routes.

Further training is often required and is often run in-house or though the Institute of Export and International Trade. Increasingly, professional qualifications such as the Certificate, Advanced Certificate and Diploma in International Trade through the Institute of Export and International Trade are an advantage.

Some export sales managers have management qualifications like those through the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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