Sales Representatives are professionals in charge of selling non-technical goods and services to retail, wholesale, commercial, industrial, and professional clients, both locally and internationally. They usually work for establishments that produce or provide goods and services (e.g. oil companies; food, beverage and tobacco producers; clothing manufacturers; motor vehicles and parts manufacturers; hotels; business services firms; and transportation companies).
A Sales Representative is not to be confused with a Sales Associate. The Sales function is divided into two broad categories based on the type of customer: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumers (B2C). 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.
An industry can include both B2B and B2C. For example, an Author sells their manuscript to a Book Publisher, while the latter prints, publishes, and markets the book to a bookstore. These are all B2B relationships. However, when the final customer goes to the bookstore to buy the book, he’s creating a B2C relationship.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Sales Representatives are required to complete.
- Promoting sales and selling company products or services to new and existing clients to increase sales revenues:
- Identifying and soliciting potential clients;
- providing new clients with presentations on the benefits and uses of goods or services provided by their company or organization;
- servicing existing clients;
- managing client relationships through all phases of the sales cycle;
- conducting sales transactions through Internet-based electronic commerce (e-commerce);
- working closely with operations and customer support to ensure customer satisfaction;
- resolving customer complaints by investigating problems, developing solutions, preparing reports, and making recommendations to the Sales Manager;
- 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.
- Estimating or quoting prices, credit or agreement terms, warranties, and delivery dates:
- Preparing or overseeing the preparation of sales agreements or other similar contracts;
- managing pricing and sales data, as well as activity reports;
- soliciting purchase orders in their corresponding territory; and
- following up with clients after sale to resolve any problems that may have arisen and providing ongoing support.
- Preparing and submitting activity and results reports to Sales Managers, such as weekly sales call plans and monthly and annual territory analyses.
- Performing various administrative duties, including preparing expense and commission reports.
- Keeping up-to-date on current market changes and trends:
- Attending educational workshops and reviewing professional publications in order to maintain professional and technical knowledge;
- reviewing and adapting to information regarding product innovations, competitors, and market conditions; and
- monitoring the competition by gathering current marketplace information on pricing, products, new products, delivery schedules, merchandising techniques, etc.
- Representing organizations that export and/or import products or services to and from other countries.
- Supervising the activities of other Sales Representatives.
- Promoting sales, servicing existing clients, and establishing new accounts.
- Planning and organizing their daily work schedule.
- 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.
Employers tend to emphasize more on individual aptitudes and personality of the applicant, rather than on their academic achievements. The perfect candidate is able to demonstrate excellent communication and people skills, have the ability to handle a job that involves regular and frequent travel, show a confident and ambitious attitude and approach to work, and demonstrate outstanding customer service skills.
Most Sales Representatives receive a compensation package that is usually a combination of base salary and sales commissions based on their assigned targets. Sometimes, however, their salaries are exclusively commission-based, especially for Sales Representatives employed by independent distributors or vendors.
Typical working hours for Sales Reps tend to be long and erratic since they depend on customer’s schedules and requirements. There’s also a lot of travelling involved, both within their base locations and around their province when they’re responsible for larger territories. However, most companies provide the necessary transportation or reimburse Sales Representatives for their travel expenses, in addition to providing them with cellphones and laptops for business use.
Career progression for a Sales Representative depends exclusively on their overall performance and sales contributions. They also have the option of moving into lateral functions such as Marketing, Product Development, or Market Research.