A Sales Representative is a professional whose role within a company is to sell the product or service that they provide. They commonly sell non-technical products, meaning that neither the seller, nor the buyer need to possess specialized knowledge on how to handle or use the product in question. The grand majority of Sales Representatives work directly for the manufacturer or provider of the product, good, or service they sell. Their usual customer are other companies who then sell their product directly to the final consumer.
A Sales Representative is not to be confused with a Sales Associate. 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. 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; while Sales Associates are B2C-oriented, meaning the customer is encouraged to buy the product or service immediately and directly from the Salesperson.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Sales Representatives are required to complete.
- Selling company goods, products, and services in order to increase profit:
- Looking for potential new clients and buyers;
- explaining the benefits of the products, goods, or services they sell to new customers in order to promote and build loyalty to their brand;
- servicing existing clients;
- managing client relationships through all phases of the sales cycle;
- overseeing online transactions and sales;
- working closely with operations and customer support to ensure customer satisfaction;
- assisting customers with complaints or inquiries related to products, services, or purchases;
- tracking volumes, numbers, and margins by reviewing Sales reports; and
- achieving weekly, quarterly, monthly, and annual volume and margin sales targets.
- Developing strong relationships with key accounts to maintain a high level of service and client loyalty.
- Providing customers with an expected budget, payment agreements, and delivery estimates:
- Drafting contracts and overseeing all purchase agreements;
- managing pricing and sales data, as well as activity reports;
- soliciting purchase orders in their corresponding territory; and
- conducting post-sale follow ups in order to assess and assist customers with any problem or inquiry they may have.
- Writing and submitting periodical reports based on sales and any other occurrences.
- Performing various administrative duties, including preparing expense and commission reports.
- Keeping up-to-date on current market changes and trends:
- Staying up to date with the latest trends in sales and the field of their product by reading publications and attending conferences and seminaries; and
- monitoring market fluctuations, tendencies, and trends as well as following competitor’s activity.
- Working as part of a team within an organization in charge of importing/exporting products and goods in and out of a country.
- Monitoring and overseeing the activity of fellow sellers.
- Promoting sales, servicing existing clients, and establishing new accounts.
- Focusing sales efforts by studying existing and potential needs of clients.
- Resolving issues or complaints in a timely manner.
- Cold calling potential clients.
- Keeping up-to-date on current market changes and trends.
The average Sales Representative salary is $50,765 per year or $26 per hour. This is around 1.5 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $36,000 while most experienced workers make up to $71,000. These results are based on 3,194 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Adaptive personality with the ability to learn and apply new sales strategies quickly:
- Being resilient when facing challenges.
- Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with new and existing clients;
- 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 to resolve any issues promptly;
- providing high levels of customer service to existing clients and potential customers;
- being persuasive enough to be able to convince future clients.
- Being resourceful, energetic, driven, structured, and displaying a strong desire to take initiative.
- Strong organizational, operational, and planning skills in a customer service and sales focused environment:
- Multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- being proactive and goal-oriented;
- being able to work independently with minimal supervision; and
- being able to handle time constraints while achieving the required goals.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner;
- being able to gather, monitor, and analyze all types of quantitative and qualitative data into sales reports; and
- being polite and patient while dealing with difficult clients.
Professionals looking to enter the world of Sales as a Sales Representative will not be required to have a specific degree; however, employers usually prefer applicants with college or university degrees in Marketing, Sales, or Business. Industry specific Sales experience is considered an asset for any candidate in this profession, as well as demonstrated skills using MS Office (Excel, Word, Outlook, and Access) and experience in cold calling and telemarketing.
This is one of the few fields in which employers don’t place as much emphasis on academic achievements as much as they do in a particular set of skills that constitute the ideal salesperson. Candidates are often expected to possess excellent communication skills, a natural aptitude for sales, and an outgoing personality that will enable them to get along with potential clients. They are also required to have outstanding customer service skills.
Salary-wise, Sales Representatives work on a fixed wage plus a set percentage of every sell they make, as commission. The commission fee can vary depending on the company, it is usually from 1% to 10% of the total price of each sale.
While the standard work hours of a Sales Representative are 9 to 5 on a Monday through Friday basis, they can vary greatly depending on the time availability of their customers. This is especially true for Sales Representative working with international clients located in different time zones. It’s also common for professionals in this line of work to have to travel, sometimes abroad, in order to meet with customers.
It is possible for Sales Representatives to move up and further advance their career. Promotions are usually handed to those professionals displaying high levels of aptitude and success in their sales. They may also move towards similar fields such as Marketing.