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Become An Outside Sales Representative

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Working As An Outside Sales Representative

  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $62,943

    Average Salary

What Does An Outside Sales Representative 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 Outside Sales Representative

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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Outside Sales Representative jobs

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Outside Sales Representative Career Paths

Outside Sales Representative
Territory Manager Regional Sales Manager General Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Branch Manager Area Manager Sales Manager
Corporate Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Business Development Manager Marketing Director Director Of Sales
Director Of Sales & Business Development
13 Yearsyrs
General Manager Account Manager
Key Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Regional Sales Manager Sales And Marketing Manager Account Manager
Major Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Sales Manager Regional Sales Manager
National Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sales Manager Regional Sales Manager
National Sales Manager
10 Yearsyrs
District Manager Warehouse Manager Outside Sales
Outside Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Senior Sales Representative Account Manager
Regional Accounts Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Territory Sales Manager District Sales Manager
Regional Business Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Regional Sales Manager General Manager Account Executive
Regional Sales Director
10 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Sales Manager
Regional Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Territory Manager Account Manager
Sales Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Sales Consultant
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
General Manager Account Executive
Senior Sales Executive
9 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Account Executive Sales Manager
Senior Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Business Development Manager Director Of Sales
Senior Vice President, Sales
14 Yearsyrs
Branch Manager Territory Manager Account Manager
Territory Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sales Manager General Manager Account Executive
Territory Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Territory Manager Account Manager Sales Manager
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Sales Engineer 3.8 years
Outside Sales 3.7 years
Account Executive 2.9 years
Sales Contractor 2.8 years
Sales Producer 2.8 years
Sales Professional 2.8 years
Sales Specialist 2.5 years
Sales Consultant 2.2 years
Sales Trainee 1.0 years
Sales Internship 0.5 years
Top Employers Before
Manager 3.8%
Owner 3.5%
Internship 2.4%
Top Employers After
Owner 4.4%
Manager 2.8%

Outside Sales Representative Demographics

Gender

Male

69.7%

Female

29.1%

Unknown

1.2%
Ethnicity

White

83.9%

Hispanic or Latino

8.9%

Asian

5.4%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

69.8%

French

4.7%

Portuguese

4.7%

German

4.0%

Italian

3.1%

Russian

2.8%

Arabic

1.9%

Mandarin

1.2%

Greek

1.2%

Carrier

1.2%

Japanese

1.2%

Korean

0.9%

Chinese

0.9%

Swedish

0.3%

Vietnamese

0.3%

Romanian

0.3%

Dutch

0.3%

Danish

0.3%

Bulgarian

0.3%

Hungarian

0.3%
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Outside Sales Representative Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

17.0%

Texas State University

6.3%

Auburn University

6.0%

University of Alabama

4.9%

Michigan State University

4.7%

Ball State University

4.5%

Western Michigan University

4.4%

Southeastern Louisiana University

4.4%

Texas A&M University

4.3%

University of Houston

4.2%

Liberty University

4.2%

Arizona State University

4.2%

Pennsylvania State University

4.2%

Iowa State University

4.2%

Stephen F Austin State University

3.9%

University of Florida

3.8%

University of Georgia

3.8%

University of North Texas

3.8%

Temple University

3.7%

University of Kentucky

3.7%
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Majors

Business

38.8%

Marketing

11.2%

Communication

6.9%

Management

5.5%

Psychology

4.2%

Criminal Justice

3.5%

General Studies

2.9%

General Sales

2.8%

Education

2.7%

Political Science

2.6%

Kinesiology

2.4%

Liberal Arts

2.2%

Finance

2.2%

Accounting

2.2%

History

1.8%

English

1.8%

Biology

1.6%

Economics

1.6%

Graphic Design

1.5%

Sociology

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

50.9%

Other

27.3%

Associate

9.8%

Masters

7.3%

Certificate

3.0%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.5%
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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Outside Sales Representative Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Outside Sales Representative (Engineering) Softchoice Corporation Los Angeles, CA Oct 08, 2016 $120,000
Outside Sales Representative Outokumpu Stainless USA LLC Bannockburn, IL May 29, 2015 $90,000 -
$95,000
BLS Outside Sales Representative DL Flange Corporation Houston, TX Jun 01, 2015 $85,000
BLS Pipes & Fittings Outside Sales Representative DL Flange Corporation Houston, TX Jun 01, 2015 $85,000
BSL Outside Sales Representative DL Flange Corporation Houston, TX Jun 01, 2015 $85,000
BSL Pipes & Fittings Outside Sales Representative DL Flange Corporation Houston, TX Jun 01, 2015 $85,000
Outside Sales Representative Dunn-Edwards Corporation San Rafael, CA Feb 20, 2014 $72,000 -
$95,000
Outside Sales Representative Thyssenkrupp Stainless USA, LLC Bannockburn, IL Oct 01, 2012 $61,435
Outside Sales REP. Yoony Incorporation Madisonville, TN Apr 10, 2015 $59,779
Outside Sales Representative Yamasho, Inc. Elk Grove Village, IL Dec 01, 2016 $52,270
Outside Sales Representative Motorola Solutions RF Systems Psi Electronics LLC Tacoma, WA May 18, 2015 $50,000 -
$90,000
Outside Sales Representative/Marketing Manager Shubh Hospitality, Inc. Kendallville, IN Jan 01, 2010 $41,725
Outside Sales Representative/Marketing Manager Shubh Hospitality, Inc. Kendallville, IN Sep 01, 2010 $41,725

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Top Skills for An Outside Sales Representative

ProductKnowledgeTerritorySalesCustomerServiceNewCustomerBaseColdCallsGeneralContractorsCustomerRelationsTradeShowsProductLinesDoorSalesEnsureCustomerSatisfactionSalesREPSalesQuotaPotentialCustomersMonthlySalesGoalsNewSalesRepeatBusinessNewClientsSalesPresentationsProspectiveCustomers

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Top Outside Sales Representative Skills

  1. Product Knowledge
  2. Territory Sales
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Established relationships with commercial landscaping accounts and built entire customer base by providing excellent communication, customer service and product knowledge.
  • Increased territory sales revenue by 19% in 2004.
  • Provided outstanding customer service to internal and external customers.
  • Increased new customer base by 25%, and increased sales to the existing customer base 40%.
  • Worked on lead generation, conducted cold calls, and met with nurses and staff to set up concierge health services.

Top Outside Sales Representative Employers

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