Career Development

What Does a Sales Representative Do?

Find out what a sales representative does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a sales representative.

Sales representatives are the people who bring us our favorite products, services, and experiences. They’re the folks who introduce us to new cars, convince us to try out a new restaurant, or sell us that pair of shoes we’ve been eyeing for weeks.

Sales representatives work in all sorts of industries—from retail to technology to healthcare—and they play an important role in shaping how we interact with the world around us.

Sales Representative Job Duties

Sales representatives typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Maintaining relationships with current clients and contacting them regularly to ensure satisfaction with products or services
  • Calling on prospective clients to introduce themselves and their products or services
  • Explaining the features and benefits of products to potential customers
  • Coordinating with other departments such as marketing or accounting to ensure that sales goals are met
  • Measuring customer satisfaction by conducting surveys or focus groups to gauge interest in new products or services
  • Offering additional services such as financing or leasing arrangements to facilitate the sale of large ticket items
  • Preparing sales presentations including creating visual aids such as brochures and graphs
  • Negotiating with customers to reach mutually beneficial agreements
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with existing clients by providing excellent customer service and support

Sales Representative Salary & Outlook

Sales representatives’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company for which they work. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of commissions and bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $66,500 ($31.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of sales representatives is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be limited by the decline in retail establishments, as fewer people shop in stores and more buy online. However, some industries, such as real estate and insurance, are expected to continue to employ a large number of sales representatives because of the need for face-to-face interactions with clients.

Sales Representative Job Requirements

A successful candidate for a sales representative position may possess the following:

Education: Sales representatives are typically required to have a high school diploma or GED. Some companies may prefer a minimum of a two-year associate’s degree in sales, marketing or business. Some sales representatives choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business or marketing to increase their earning potential and qualify for higher-level sales positions.

Training & Experience: Sales representatives typically receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training may include learning the company’s products and services, the company’s sales process and the company’s computer systems. Sales representatives who work in retail may also receive training on the store’s layout and how to operate the cash register.

Sales representatives who work in the service industry may receive training on the products or services they will be selling. They may also receive training on the company’s customer service standards.

Certifications & Licenses: Certification is rarely a requirement for a sales representative. However, earning a sales certification can make you a more appealing candidate when applying for a job or advancing your career.

Sales Representative Skills

Sales representatives need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Communication skills are the ability to convey information to others in a clear and understandable way. As a sales representative, you may be communicating with customers, managers and other sales representatives. Strong communication skills can help you to convey information to customers effectively, which can help you to sell more products and services.

Product knowledge: Product knowledge is the ability to explain the features and benefits of a product. This is an essential skill for sales representatives because it allows them to answer customer questions and encourage them to make a purchase. You can develop product knowledge by reading product manuals, researching the company’s website and attending training sessions.

Customer service: Customer service skills can help you develop a positive relationship with customers and encourage them to make a purchase. You can use customer service skills to answer questions, solve problems and provide information about the company’s products.

Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills allow you to identify and resolve issues that may arise during a sales process. You can use problem-solving skills to help you find solutions to customer concerns, address product issues and find ways to improve sales numbers.

Time management: Time management skills allow you to prioritize your tasks and complete them within a certain time frame. As a sales representative, you may have many tasks to complete each day, such as making phone calls, sending emails, visiting clients and attending meetings. Having good time management skills can help you complete all of your tasks and still have time to take breaks.

Sales Representative Work Environment

Sales representatives work in a variety of settings, including office environments, manufacturing plants, and retail stores. They may also travel to meet with clients or customers. They typically work regular business hours, but may also work evenings or weekends to make sales calls or attend trade shows. Some sales representatives may work from home. The work can be stressful, as sales representatives are often under pressure to meet quotas.

Sales Representative Trends

Here are three trends influencing how sales representatives work. Sales representatives will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of the Digital Sales Representative

The rise of the digital sales representative is a trend that is quickly changing the way businesses sell products and services. With the increasing popularity of online shopping, sales representatives are now able to reach a wider audience through social media and other digital channels.

This trend means that sales representatives need to be well-versed in digital marketing techniques in order to be successful. They also need to be able to create a positive customer experience through interactions on social media platforms and other digital channels.

More Focus on Personalization

As customers become more accustomed to having a personalized experience, businesses will need to focus on providing them with just that. This means that sales representatives will need to be able to understand what each customer wants and how to provide it for them.

In order to be successful in this new environment, sales representatives will need to be able to communicate effectively with customers and understand their needs. They will also need to be able to use technology to personalize the customer experience.

Greater Use of Technology

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in sales. As customers become more comfortable using technology to find information, they are also turning to technology to help them make purchasing decisions.

Sales representatives can capitalize on this trend by becoming familiar with the latest technology and using it to their advantage. This includes using social media to connect with customers, creating video content, and developing mobile apps.

How to Become a Sales Representative

Sales representatives have a lot of options when it comes to career paths. They can move into management, sales engineering, or marketing. They can also specialize in a particular industry or product line.

Related: How to Write a Sales Representative Resume

Advancement Prospects

Sales representatives who are successful in selling one product may advance to positions selling more expensive or complex products. They also may advance to positions such as sales manager, in which they oversee other representatives. Some sales representatives eventually move into other occupations, such as marketing or advertising.

Sales Representative Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we’re looking for a sales representative who can increase our market share by developing relationships with new customers and growing business with existing ones. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record in sales, excellent communication skills, and the ability to work independently. He or she will be responsible for generating leads, making cold calls, giving presentations, and closing deals. If you’re a driven, self-starter with a passion for sales, we want to hear from you.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Prospect for new customers through research and lead generation
  • Develop relationships with potential customers through phone calls, emails, and in-person meetings
  • Understand customer needs and requirements
  • Present products or services to customers and negotiate terms of agreement
  • Record sales information and maintain customer records
  • Monitor competition and market trends
  • Collaborate with team members to achieve sales targets
  • Provide feedback to management on ways to improve products or services
  • Stay up-to-date on product knowledge
  • Attend trade shows and conferences
  • Complete sales training programs
  • Achieve monthly sales targets

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Proven sales experience
  • Excellent communication, negotiation, and presentation skills
  • Strong time-management and organizational skills
  • Ability to work independently and with a team
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Valid driver’s license

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or related field
  • 2+ years in customer service or a similar role
  • Experience working with CRM software
  • Familiarity with social media platforms

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