Sales Associates are usually the direct link between a company and their customers. They sell a wide variety of products and goods ranging from clothes and electrical appliances to houses and cars.
A Sales Associate is not to be confused with a Sales Representative. All professionals working in the field of sales can be divided into two groups depending on whom they sell to, there’s business-to-customers (B2C), selling directly to the final consumer, and Business-to-Business (B2B), selling on large scales to other smaller businesses. Sales Associates are B2C-oriented, meaning the customer is encouraged to buy the product or service immediately and directly from the Salesperson; while a Sales Representative works for B2B companies, meaning these professionals take the products and services from one company or organization to sell it to another.
Sales Associates may also serve as consultants for customers needing an expert’s advice when buying specialized, technological, or novelty items. Sales Associates have a key role in service, retail, and wholesale establishments since they are a direct and constant point of contact with the customer, hence, they are vital in leaving a long-lasting positive impression on clients, to get them to go back not only for the products, but for the shopping experience as well.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Sales Associates are required to complete.
- Greeting customers and creating a welcoming environment:
- Greeting, acknowledging, and informing customers in a warm, courteous, and professional manner;
- explaining the necessary precautions and maintenance procedures of specialized products to buyers;
- directing customers in locating merchandise; and
- ensuring customer satisfaction.
- Selling a wide variety of products and services to the general public:
- Explaining product qualities and characteristics to the customer;
- being up-to-date on the most current promotions and advertisements, informing clients about prices, discounts, and promotions;
- maintaining an updated and accurate understanding of all products and services on sale;
- knowing the specifications of a product when working with expensive and complex items, such as cars, spare and replacement parts, jewellery, electronics, among others; and
- keeping store properly stocked with all demanded products.
- Providing assistance to Cashiers when necessary:
- Operating cash registers; and
- processing the payment for the sale using a Point of Sale (POS) system.
- Sharing suggestions, ideas, and concerns with the appropriate Managers.
- Keeping records of all sales for inventory and stock purposes:
- Using specialized software to keep inventory.
- Performing minor duties in stores and shops, including arranging shelves, doing inventory, cleaning facilities, and handling correspondence:
- Assisting with cleaning activities, making sure the store is organized and clean; and
- processing shipments.
- Complying with all health and safety standards and procedures, as well as with the establishment’s rules and regulations:
- Promptly identifying possible cases of thieving and robbery and reacting according to company procedures;
- notifying Security Guards or calling the police if necessary.
- Greeting customers as they enter the premises.
- Anticipating the customers’ necessities.
- Making assertive recommendations to customers based on their needs.
- Describing the functions and method of operation of any specialized merchandise.
- Handling customers’ questions and inquiries.
- Knowing and explaining current promotions to customers, as well as return policies and other company procedures.
The average Sales Associate salary is $31,254 per year or $16 per hour. This is the same as the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $22,000 while most experienced workers make up to $44,000. These results are based on 2,463 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Customer service oriented and exceptional selling skills:
- Being able to respond in a prompt and timely manner to any request customers may have;
- providing high levels of customer service to existing clients and potential customers;
- being persuasive enough to be able to convince clients; and
- exercising sound judgment in effectively addressing customer concerns.
- Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills:
- Communicating clearly, especially verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with customers, coworkers, and supervisors;
- having a friendly and engaging personality in order to create positive interactions with clients;
- listening carefully and understanding customers’ questions and complaints in order to be able to resolve any issues promptly; and
- contributing to creating a team atmosphere that is flexible and enjoyable.
- Being resourceful, energetic, driven, structured, and displaying a strong desire to take initiative.
- Demonstrated time management and organizational skills:
- Multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- being proactive; and
- being able to work both independently and as part of a team.
- Problem-solving and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner; and
- being polite and patient while dealing with difficult clients.
- Physical strength:
- Being able to stand for extended periods of time, as well as climbing ladders and lifting/ carrying up to 50 pounds at a time.
Professionals looking to enter the world of Sales as a Sales Associate will not be required to have a formal education; however, most employers usually prefer hiring candidates with at least a high school diploma. In-house job training is often available in most companies, it may last from a few days to a month and it covers customer services principles, company procedures and protocols, and basic cashier duties. In order to maintain an excellent level of customer service, many companies will have their employees go through regular courses aimed at refining their skills.
With enough experience it is possible for a Sales Associate to be promoted to a more administrative position. However, many employers will only promote candidates who have a college or university degree in Administration, Business, Marketing, or any other related field.
Sales Assistants must be willing to work flexible schedules that meet the needs of the business, including overnight, evenings, weekends, holidays, and call-in shifts.