Sales representatives are responsible for bringing in new business for a company. They work with a variety of products, from industrial equipment to consumer goods, and must be able to explain a product’s features and benefits to potential customers.
Sales reps must have a good understanding of their company’s products and must be able to identify customer needs and recommend a product that meets those needs. They may also need to have a good understanding of the competition’s products.
In addition to recruiting new customers, sales reps may also be responsible for maintaining relationships with existing customers.
Sales Representative Job Duties
Sales representatives perform a wide range of duties, including:
- Meeting with clients to establish new business relationships or to improve existing business relationships
- Preparing proposals and presentations based on client needs and company offerings
- Identifying potential problems and suggesting solutions to ensure that clients are satisfied with the final product or service
- Negotiating contracts, resolving conflicts, and closing deals to reach mutually beneficial agreements for both parties involved
- Escalating cases of poor customer service so they can be dealt with by management
- Performing administrative tasks such as maintaining office records and organizing sales meetings
- Showing interest in topics of interest to customers such as sports, family activities, hobbies, etc.
- Participating in company training programs designed to help meet customer needs, improve product knowledge, and increase sales skills
Sales Representative Salary & Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as of May 2020, the median annual wage for sales and related occupations was $31,500. The lowest 10% of earners in this field were earning under $18,700 per year, while the top 10% were earning over $63,320.
Employment in sales and related occupations is projected to show little or no change over the next decade. This is due to the increasing use of e-commerce, which will depress employment growth in some of these occupations in the retail sector. Sales workers in the services and wholesale sectors will continue to be in demand as these occupations remain critical in building and maintaining customer bases for businesses.
Sales Representative Job Requirements
The requirements for sales representatives are as follows:
Education: Many employers will accept a candidate who holds a high school diploma or GED. However, some employers prefer candidates to have at least an associate’s degree in business or marketing.
Training: The majority of this training happens on-the-job as sales representatives work closely with experienced sales professionals. At first, sales representatives will be assigned to complete specific tasks such as entering sales orders and answering customer calls. As they gain more experience, they may also gain the opportunity to make sales calls and gain direct customer contact.
Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not required for this job, but many employers seek them out as a measure of their employee’s skill level and knowledge of their field. Some popular certifications include Certified Sales Professional (CSP), Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI) and Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP).
Sales Representative Skills
The following skills are required for this job:
Persuasive communication skills: You will need to be able to convince potential customers that your product is the best one for them.
People skills: Sales representatives must have excellent people skills. They must be able to interact with clients and potential customers in a friendly, outgoing manner.
Problem-solving skills: A sales representative’s job can involve many problems, including dealing with uncooperative clients or an unresponsive company bureaucracy. The ability to solve these problems quickly and effectively is essential.
Leadership skills: Being a good leader involves knowing how to motivate others, inspire confidence, and develop teamwork among employees.
Time management skills: Sales representatives often work on tight deadlines, so they must be able to manage their time well.
Sales Representative Work Environment
Sales representatives work in client-facing environments that require outgoing, personable, and well-presented individuals who are comfortable engaging with people. Sales representatives work in a competitive environment of driven sales colleagues. Their performance is monitored, but they must work independently and be self-driven as they are not office-bound.
Sales representatives typically have an office, but spend most of their time out of the office as they must travel to visit clients and potential business partners. The nature of the sales environment includes rejection, and therefore a salesperson must be able to handle rejection constructively while maintaining a positive attitude.
Sales Representative Career Advancement
A sales representative who wants to move up within the company will have multiple opportunities to do so. If you’re looking for more responsibility, ask about a territory management position that allows you to oversee several sales representatives in your area.
You might also work your way up to a director or VP position at your company. This is an excellent opportunity for those who are interested in the general management of a company rather than just sales. A director or VP of sales will oversee all sales efforts, including marketing, customer service, and technology.
If you are interested in moving up within the organization, you’ll want to demonstrate how your efforts have contributed to the company’s success over time. Take advantage of leadership seminars and training sessions hosted by your company to show that you are ready for more responsibility.
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.
Impact of eCommerce:
As consumers continue to gravitate towards online shopping, it is important for sales representatives to keep up with these trends.
While brick-and-mortar stores will still exist in the future, this shift in consumer preferences means that sales reps will need to become comfortable with conducting business over the internet and providing their clients with more than just physical products—they will also need to provide digital products, such as an app or website.
Increasing Importance of Digital Presence:
Social media has become an essential tool for sales representatives, who must establish a strong digital presence to market their products.
For example, B2B social media communities like LinkedIn are useful tools for establishing connections with clients and leads that can ultimately lead to more sales opportunities in the future.
Continued Importance of Customer Relationships:
The world of sales is changing in important ways, and this trend will likely lead to increased demand for sales professionals who can focus on customer relationships.
For example, a recent study found that 77% of consumers say they would like more direct contact with businesses and brands they like, and 60% want to be kept up-to-date on new products and services.
How to Become a Sales Representative
1. Planning Your Career Path
If you want to be a sales representative, it’s important to develop your interpersonal skills. Selling is about building relationships and trust with potential customers, so being able to engage in conversations easily will help you get ahead in this industry.
In addition to communication skills, sales representatives need persistence and tenacity. In order to secure an account or sell a product, it is important to be determined and passionate about the task at hand. As you search for a job, don’t just look at the work of other sales reps; look at the life they’ve created for themselves. What did they do to get to where they are today? How did they build their reputation? How did they earn the respect of their peers? It’s important to have a vision for your career, but even more important to know how you will achieve it.
2. Writing a Resume
A sales representative’s resume should highlight sales and marketing skills and proven accomplishments and success stories. It is also essential to demonstrate your understanding of the industry through clear descriptions of what you have done in past positions. In addition, it’s important to ensure that the resume is tailored for each specific job that you apply for.
Successful sales representatives rely heavily on track records of achievements and successes that they can bring into interviews; these show both how capable the candidate is now and how easily he/she will fit into the company culture. This section may consist of many different items including leadership experience, managerial experience, successful team-building efforts among peers – anything that demonstrates an individual’s talents in practice.
3. Applying for Jobs
If you’re looking for a sales job, start by identifying companies that sell products you’re interested in and researching the kinds of people they hire. If you have a connection with someone who works at one of these companies, reach out to them directly. Find out if the company has any job openings by looking on their website. If there are no job openings, it is still possible to get a job at that company. Many companies hire new employees through internships. An internship is a great way to learn about the company and can lead to a full-time job offer.
4. Ace the Interview
For an interview as a sales representative candidate, you’ll want to be sure that you are well-prepared for the position. Make sure you know what type of products or services your company sells and why they are beneficial to the customer. Also, know how your product is unique from others in the industry. You will also want to make sure you know what price points are acceptable to your clients.
An interview for a sales representative candidate will often include a sales test, which can be a great way to demonstrate your sales skills. To pass the test, you should practice role-playing a sales call with a friend or family member beforehand.
Dress professionally for the interview, but don’t overdo it. And, make sure you’re ready to answer any questions the interviewer might have. When asked about your weaknesses, avoid being too negative or defensive. Instead, focus on ways you have improved upon your weaknesses in the past. Be ready to ask questions at the end of the interview.