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Become An Account Executive/Outside Sales

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Working As An Account Executive/Outside Sales

  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $70,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Account Executive/Outside Sales Do

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have, and negotiate prices.

Duties

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives typically do the following:

  • Identify prospective customers by using business directories, following leads from existing clients, and attending trade shows and conferences
  • Contact new and existing customers to discuss their needs and explain how specific products and services can meet these needs
  • Help customers select products to meet customers' needs, product specifications, and regulations
  • Emphasize product features that will meet customers' needs and exhibit product capabilities and limitations
  • Answer customers' questions about prices, availability, and product uses
  • Negotiate prices and terms of sale and service agreements
  • Prepare sales contracts and submit orders for processing
  • Collaborate with colleagues to exchange information, such as selling strategies and marketing information
  • Follow up with customers to make sure they are satisfied with their purchases and to answer any questions or concerns

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives—sometimes called manufacturers’ representatives or manufacturers’ agents—generally work for manufacturers or wholesalers. Some work for a single organization, while others represent several companies and sell a range of products.

Rather than selling goods directly to consumers, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives deal with businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. For more information about people who sell directly to consumers, see the profile on retail sales workers.

Some wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives deal with nonscientific products such as food, office supplies, and clothing. Other representatives specialize in technical and scientific products, ranging from agricultural and mechanical equipment to computer and pharmaceutical goods. For more information about people who specialize in sales of technical products and services, see the profile on sales engineers.

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives who lack expertise about a given product frequently team with a technical expert. In this arrangement, the technical expert—sometimes a sales engineer—attends the sales presentation to explain the product and answer questions or concerns. The sales representative makes the initial contact with customers, introduces the company's product, and obtains final agreement from the potential buyer.

By working with a technical expert, the representative is able to spend more time maintaining and soliciting accounts and less time needing to gain technical knowledge.

After the sale, representatives may make follow-up visits to ensure that equipment is functioning properly and may even help train customers' employees to operate and maintain new equipment.

Those selling consumer goods often suggest how and where merchandise should be displayed. When working with retailers, they may help arrange promotional programs, store displays, and advertising.

In addition to selling products, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives analyze sales statistics, prepare reports, and handle administrative duties such as filing expense accounts, scheduling appointments, and making travel plans.

Staying up-to-date on new products and the changing needs of customers is important. Sales representatives accomplish this in a variety of ways, including attending trade shows at which new products and technologies are showcased. They attend conferences and conventions to meet other sales representatives and clients and to discuss new product developments. They also read about new and existing products and monitor the sales, prices, and products of their competitors.

The following are examples of types of wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives:

Inside sales representatives work mostly in offices while making sales. Frequently, they are responsible for getting new clients by “cold calling” various organizations, which means they call potential customers who are not expecting to be contacted in order to establish an initial contact. They also take incoming calls from customers who are interested in their product, and process paperwork to complete the sale.

Outside sales representatives spend much of their time traveling to and visiting with current clients and prospective buyers. During a sales call, they discuss the client's needs and suggest how they can meet those needs with merchandise or services. They may show samples or catalogs that describe items their company provides, and they may inform customers about prices, availability, and ways in which their products can save money and boost productivity. Because many sales representatives sell several complementary products made by different manufacturers, they may take a broad approach to their customers' businesses. For example, sales representatives may help install new equipment and train employees in its use.

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How To Become An Account Executive/Outside Sales

Educational requirements vary, depending on the type of product sold. If the products are not scientific or technical, a high school diploma is generally enough for entry into the occupation. If the products are scientific or technical, sales representatives typically need at least a bachelor's degree.

Education

A high school diploma is sufficient for many positions, primarily for selling nontechnical or scientific products. However, those selling scientific and technical products typically must have a bachelor's degree. Scientific and technical products include pharmaceuticals, medical instruments, and industrial equipment. A degree in a field related to the product sold, such as chemistry, biology, or engineering, is often required.

Many sales representatives attend seminars in sales techniques or take courses in marketing, economics, communication, or even a foreign language to improve their ability to make sales.

Training

Many companies have formal training programs for beginning wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives that last up to 1 year. In some programs, trainees rotate among jobs in plants and offices to learn all phases of producing, installing, and distributing the product. In others, trainees receive formal technical instruction at the plant, followed by on-the-job training under the supervision of a field sales manager.

New employees may be trained by going along with experienced workers on their sales calls. As they gain familiarity with the firm's products and clients, the new workers gain more responsibility until they eventually get their own territory.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Many in this occupation have either the Certified Professional Manufacturers' Representative (CPMR) certification or the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) certification, both offered by the Manufacturers' Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF). Certification typically involves completing formal technical training and passing an exam. In addition, the CPMR requires 10 hours of continuing education every year in order to maintain certification.

Other Experience

Although not required, sales experience can be helpful, particularly for nontechnical positions.

Advancement

Frequently, promotion takes the form of an assignment to a larger account or territory, where commissions are likely to be greater. Those who have good sales records and leadership ability may advance to higher level positions, such as sales supervisor, district manager, or vice president of sales. For more information on these positions, see the profile on sales managers.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Sales representatives must be able to listen to the customer’s needs and concerns before and after the sale.

Interpersonal skills. Sales representatives must be able to work well with many types of people. They must be able to build good relationships with clients and with other members of the sales team.

Self-confidence. Sales representatives must be confident and persuasive when making sales presentations. In addition, making a call to a potential customer who is not expecting to be contacted, or “cold calling,” requires confidence and composure.

Stamina. Sales representatives are often on their feet for long periods of time and may carry heavy sample products.

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Account Executive/Outside Sales Career Paths

Account Executive/Outside Sales
Account Executive Account Manager
Director, Inside Sales
6 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Territory Manager
Senior Territory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Sales Manager Account Manager
Major Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Account Executive Account Manager
Territory Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Account Executive Sales Manager
Branch Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Account Executive Sales Manager Regional Sales Manager
National Accounts Sales Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Recruiter Consultant Regional Sales Manager
Business Development Sales Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Recruiter Business Developer District Sales Manager
Regional Business Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Recruiter Consultant Product Manager
Market Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sales/Account Representative Store Manager Territory Manager
Territory Business Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales/Account Representative Territory Manager
Sales Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sales/Account Representative Sales Account Manager Senior Account Manager
Manager, Account Executive
5 Yearsyrs
Consultant Regional Sales Manager National Account Manager
Enterprise Account Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Business Development Executive Senior Sales Representative
Senior Sales Executive
8 Yearsyrs
Business Development Executive District Sales Manager Regional Accounts Manager
Corporate Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Business Development Executive Senior Sales Representative Sales Account Manager
Business Development Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Sales Account Executive Senior Sales Executive Territory Sales Manager
Distribution Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Advertising Account Executive Customer Service Manager Inside Sales Manager
Inside Sales Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Business Developer Customer Service Manager Inside Sales Manager
Outside Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Sales Account Executive Sales Account Manager Business Development Sales Manager
Consulting Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Account Executive/Outside Sales?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Outside Sales 3.8 years
Account Executive 2.9 years
Top Careers Before Account Executive/Outside Sales
Internship 2.7%
Owner 2.6%
Top Careers After Account Executive/Outside Sales
Owner 4.1%

Do you work as an Account Executive/Outside Sales?

Account Executive/Outside Sales Demographics

Gender

Male

50.2%

Female

43.1%

Unknown

6.7%
Ethnicity

White

63.2%

Hispanic or Latino

16.1%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

6.1%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

56.9%

French

7.8%

Chinese

3.9%

Vietnamese

3.9%

German

3.9%

Mandarin

3.9%

Hebrew

3.9%

Cantonese

3.9%

Italian

3.9%

Dutch

2.0%

Japanese

2.0%

Tagalog

2.0%

Russian

2.0%
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Account Executive/Outside Sales Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

15.9%

Kent State University

6.3%

Florida State University

6.3%

Texas Tech University

5.3%

Texas State University

5.3%

West Virginia University

5.3%

Arizona State University

4.8%

Ohio State University

4.8%

San Diego State University

4.8%

Miami Dade College

4.8%

San Jose State University

4.3%

University of Utah

4.3%

University of Houston

3.8%

Florida International University

3.8%

Michigan State University

3.4%

Middle Tennessee State University

3.4%

Georgia State University

3.4%

University of Southern Mississippi

3.4%

University of Delaware

3.4%

Central Michigan University

3.4%
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Majors

Business

35.3%

Marketing

12.8%

Communication

9.8%

Management

5.2%

Psychology

4.9%

Public Relations

3.2%

General Sales

3.1%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Finance

2.5%

Criminal Justice

2.2%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

2.2%

Economics

2.1%

Accounting

2.1%

Education

1.9%

English

1.8%

Political Science

1.8%

Advertising

1.8%

Computer Science

1.7%

Journalism

1.6%

Real Estate

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

56.6%

Other

23.2%

Masters

8.2%

Associate

7.3%

Certificate

2.8%

License

0.7%

Diploma

0.6%

Doctorate

0.6%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$70,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$41,000
Min 10%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$70,000
Median 50%
$119,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
PrimePay
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Delaware
Avg Experience Level
3.2 years
How much does an Account Executive/Outside Sales make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Account Executive/Outside Sales in the United States is $70,237 per year or $34 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $41,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $119,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of an Account Executive/Outside Sales?

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Top Skills for An Account Executive/Outside Sales

  1. Product Knowledge
  2. Sales Territory
  3. New Clients
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed profitable relationships with current and prospective customers, and provided exceptional customer support through attentiveness and extensive product knowledge.
  • Developed and maintained in-depth knowledge of market and demographic information in assigned sales territory.
  • Account executive selling insurance products including life, health, commercial and personal and disability to existing and new clients.
  • Implemented total Responsibility for New Business Development and Cultivated New Business by Establishing Great Customer Service with Canon's Clients.
  • Established new vertical markets outside of company's core market segments creating multiple new accounts and increased revenue streams.

How Would You Rate Working As an Account Executive/Outside Sales?

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