What is a Sales Representative

As the sole point of contact, sales representatives are responsible for all business matters when it comes to their clients. They ensure the right products are delivered, follow customer leads, and pitch prospective customers.

Probably the most important aspect of a sales representative's job is closing on sales. That's what keeps the business running and your paycheck coming. There are some times when you'll have to deal with tough situations, like customer complaints, and you'll have to know how to fix the situation.

The majority of sales representatives spend about 47 hours a week at work. From travel time to breaks and interacting with customers, you've got some long days ahead. Although, it's not a bad gig, especially since you only need a high school diploma. The majority of your education in your career will come from on-the-job training - nothing beats hands-on experience.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a sales representative. For example, did you know that they make an average of $26.97 an hour? That's $56,106 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 2% and produce 35,400 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Sales Representative Do

There are certain skills that many sales representatives have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed customer-service skills, interpersonal skills and physical stamina.

Learn more about what a Sales Representative does

How To Become a Sales Representative

Have you ever been approached by someone that tried to sell you a product? Maybe they came to your workplace to present a new line of computers or cutting edge printers, or they tried to sell cleaning products to your small business. Those are sales representatives. They are part of a business's marketing team, and their job is to sell as many products as possible. Sales reps have a reputation for being hard workers because the job requires perseverance. The job involves meeting frequent sales targets because payment is based on commission. Sales reps also have to be ready to move and make a sale at the client's convenience. But for all the difficulties, the career is gratifying. Because it's commission-based, there's no cap on how much sales reps can earn monthly. The job also has perks because sales reps set their own hours and may even have access to an expense account.

What Kind of Education does a Sales Representative Need?

The educational background of sales reps is very diverse. Organizations often prioritize sales experience and competence when hiring for this role, so the specific background may vary. However, it's helpful to have a bachelor's degree in a related field like accounting, business management, or economics. Studying marketing, consumer behavior, and business can help a lot. A major in your product's field may also be an advantage, for example, studying computer science when you sell computer solutions.

Sales Representative Certifications

Certifications may not be necessary for landing a sales rep position, but they can certainly help. You can get these from professional organizations in your state of practice. These organizations may also issue licenses and membership rights to you. Other certifications in sales training, customer service, and marketing may also be helpful. They add to your resume and can demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers. Finally, certifications may also help to climb the career ladder or switch to new roles. For example, certificates in human resource management or project management can show employers that you're capable of leading a team of sales reps.

Sales Representative Licenses

You don't need a practicing license to become a sales rep, even though some organizations offer them. The Manufacturer's Representatives Education Research Foundation provides licenses for sales reps, and it can give you a career edge. Since licensing isn't a common phenomenon, it may be what you need to get ahead.

Experience Needed to be a Sales Representative

Any experience in sales can set you up to become a sales rep. Although, experience working for corporations reflects better than personal ones like trying to sell custom-built PCs to make money. Also, having prior experience in the product field can go a long way. A great example is working in a pharmacy before applying for a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep. The field can be highly demanding, so any job that demonstrates you can handle the challenge will impress potential employers.

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Average Salary
$56,106
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
2%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
169,231
Job Openings
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Sales Representative Career Paths

Top Careers Before Sales Representative

Top Careers After Sales Representative

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Average Salary for a Sales Representative

Sales Representatives in America make an average salary of $56,106 per year or $27 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $93,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $33,000 per year.
Average Salary
$56,106
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Sales Representative Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Sales Representative. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Sales Representative Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Sales Representative resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Sales Representative Resume Examples And Templates

Sales Representative Demographics

Sales Representative Gender Statistics

male

54.0 %

female

41.9 %

unknown

4.0 %

Sales Representative Ethnicity Statistics

White

76.2 %

Hispanic or Latino

13.6 %

Asian

4.7 %

Sales Representative Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

65.1 %

French

7.0 %

Portuguese

3.0 %
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Sales Representative Education

Sales Representative Majors

32.6 %

Sales Representative Degrees

Bachelors

53.7 %

High School Diploma

20.1 %

Associate

15.6 %

Top Colleges for Sales Representatives

1. SUNY College of Technology at Alfred

Alfred, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,570
Enrollment
3,721

2. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

3. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Private

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

4. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

5. California State University - Bakersfield

Bakersfield, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,309
Enrollment
9,142

6. Baylor University

Waco, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$45,542
Enrollment
14,159

7. Ball State University

Muncie, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,896
Enrollment
15,529

8. University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,555
Enrollment
30,360

9. SUNY College of Technology at Delhi

Delhi, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,360
Enrollment
3,142

10. Bentley University

Waltham, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,880
Enrollment
4,177
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Online Courses For Sales Representative That You May Like

Sales Fire: B2B Sales & Business Development for Startups
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Sales Hacking: Essential sales skills, sales strategies and sales techniques to sell just about anything!...

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Closing Sales: Sales Training Course: Sales Skills; Selling Techniques; Sales Strategies for B2B, B2C Direct Sales...

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Top Skills For a Sales Representative

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 18.4% of sales representatives listed communication on their resume, but soft skills such as customer-service skills and interpersonal skills are important as well.

12 Sales Representative RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Sales Representative

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a sales representative. The best states for people in this position are Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Sales representatives make the most in Massachusetts with an average salary of $74,534. Whereas in New Jersey and New Hampshire, they would average $73,282 and $71,264, respectively. While sales representatives would only make an average of $69,679 in Pennsylvania, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Pennsylvania

Total Sales Representative Jobs:
3,836
Highest 10% Earn:
$136,000
Location Quotient:
1.32
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. New Jersey

Total Sales Representative Jobs:
2,922
Highest 10% Earn:
$142,000
Location Quotient:
1.47
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Massachusetts

Total Sales Representative Jobs:
2,371
Highest 10% Earn:
$144,000
Location Quotient:
1.03
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Sales Representatives

How Do Sales Representative Rate Their Jobs?

Zippia Official Logo

5.0

SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVEOctober 2019

5.0

Zippia Official LogoSENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVEOctober 2019

What do you like the most about working as Sales Representative?

MEETING NEW PEOPLE, AND HELPING TO SOLVE THERE PROBLEMS Show More

What do you NOT like?

NOT BEING PAID ENOUGH. Show More

Zippia Official Logo

4.0

SalesJuly 2019

4.0

Zippia Official LogoSalesJuly 2019

What do you like the most about working as Sales Representative?

Working with people and being in different places. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Slow season when sales are down Show More

Zippia Official Logo

5.0

Sales PersonnelMay 2019

5.0

Zippia Official LogoSales PersonnelMay 2019

What do you like the most about working as Sales Representative?

I like online and offline sales. Show More

What do you NOT like?

When the product is not available but in demand by customers Show More

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Top Sales Representative Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ sales representatives and discovered their number of sales representative opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Verizon Communications was the best, especially with an average salary of $58,228. AT&T; follows up with an average salary of $58,998, and then comes T-Mobile with an average of $58,083. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a sales representative. The employers include Oracle, Knoll, and Ascend Learning

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Sales Representative FAQs

Do you need a degree to be a sales representative?

No, you do not need a degree to work as a sales representative. If you prefer not to go the college route, there are still job opportunities for you as a sales representative.

In fact, almost 17% of sales representatives have only a high school diploma. That's not to say that a college degree will not be preferred by some companies. About 45% of sales reps have a bachelor's degree, and 13 % have an associate's degree in business, marketing, communication, and psychology.

If you prefer not to go the college route, you can earn a professional sales certification focused on learning more about the industry. This can help to increase your sales knowledge and skill set. You could also attend specialized programs and training events to advance your sales abilities and stand out from the competition.

To further your marketability and earning potential, a sales representative can earn a professional sales certification focused on learning more about the industry. Some of the recommended certifications for sales representatives include; Certified Sales Professional (CSP) and Certified Professional, Life and Health Insurance Program (CPLHI).

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How much does a sales rep make a year?

A sales representative makes $47,187 a year or $24 an hour. However, there is a high range of variability in the earning potential of a sales rep, ranging from $97,500 per year (or $50 per hour) down to $15,000 per year (or $7.21 per hour).

This high level of variability suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, industry, location, and years of experience.

The earning potential of a sales representative can be much greater than their base salary pay. Whether you're in the sales industry or are considering a career change to a sales-based position, it's important to understand how commission structures work. There are several types of commission structures for sales representative positions, and these are listed below;

Nine types of commission structures for sales rep jobs:

  • Base rate commission. The sales rep is only paid an hourly or flat salary. This commission structure benefits businesses where salespeople spend a lot of time educating and supporting customers before and post-sales. There's no incentive to upsell or sell more products or services, hence no commission.

  • Base salary plus commission. The sales rep is paid both an hourly or straight base salary plus a commission rate. Typically, the base salary is too low to support someone's income entirely, but it does provide a guaranteed income when sales are low.

    • The standard salary to commission ratio is 60:40, with 60% as the base rate and 40% commission-driven.

  • Drawn against commission. The sales rep pay is based on an advance payment, or draw, that helps new hires acclimate to their sales roles without losing income. It incorporates elements of the commission-only and base pay plus commission structures. The more you sell, the more you make in commissions.

  • Gross margin commission. Sales rep earns a percentage of the profit. Because their commission depends on the final cost of the sale, salespeople are less likely to discount products. The more they can upsell a product or service, the more commission they can earn.

  • Residual commission. The sales rep earns a percentage of the profit. Because their commission depends on the final cost of the sale, salespeople are less likely to discount products. The more they can upsell a product or service, the more commission they earn.

  • Revenue commission. The sales representatives who earn a predetermined percentage of the revenue they generate have the opportunity to become top sales performers.

  • Straight commission. No sale equals no income. The straight commission structure allows the sales rep to function like independent contractors who set their own hours, which saves companies money in taxes, benefits, and other expenses. The company makes money only when the salesperson brings in revenue.

  • Tiered commission. The sales rep earns a certain percentage of commission on all sales up to a designated amount. Once they achieve their revenue goal, their commission increases. This encourages them to exceed sales goals and close more deals.

  • Territory-based commission. The sales rep earns their income based on the set rate for their defined region.

    • The amount of compensation typically depends on territory volume, where sales numbers are totaled, and commissions are split equally among salespeople within the region. This compensation plan will only work for sales representatives who work in a team-oriented environment.

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Is it hard to become a sales rep?

No, it is not hard to become a sales rep. There are no formal education requirements for sales representative positions. Many jobs can be obtained with just a high school diploma or its equivalent, although prior sales experience is advantageous.

A sales rep is the sole point of contact for all business matters when it comes to their clients. They must ensure the right products are delivered, follow customer leads, and pitch prospective customers.

Probably the hardest and most important aspect of a sales representative's job is closing on sales. Not to mention that there are some times when you'll have to deal with tough situations, like customer complaints, and you'll have to know how to fix the situation.

The majority of sales representatives spend about 47 hours a week at work. From travel time to breaks and interacting with customers, you've got some long days ahead. Although, it's an easy job to get into since you will only need a high school diploma for most positions.

The majority of your education in your career will come from on-the-job training. However, it is never a bad idea to supplement your skillset with online courses related to sales.

Some sales reps jobs have a bad reputation for being hard workers because the job requires perseverance. Consistent with this, the job typically involves meeting frequent sales targets because payment is based on commission. Sales reps also have to be ready to move and make a sale at the client's convenience.

But with these difficulties, the career can be very rewarding. Especially when it's a commission-based position since there's no cap on how much sales reps can earn monthly. The job also has perks because sales reps set their own hours and may even have access to an expense account.

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What are the five basic skills of a sales representative?

The five basic skills of a sales representative are communication, prospecting, social selling, business acumen, and active listening. That is not to say that there are no other skills that are also important in being a good sales representative, such as patience or storytelling.

Having strong communication skills is the foundation of building meaningful relationships with clients, setting expectations, and respectfully discussing a buyer's pain points.

While this may seem pretty obvious, it's important to remember that communication is more than just speaking clearly and concisely. A sales rep must also communicate effectively throughout the sales cycle, from cold outreach and follow-up to moving an opportunity along.

Sales prospecting is perhaps one of the most important skills that can help to increase your earning potential if you work in a commissioned sales rep job.

To be effective, salespeople need to develop a strategic approach to prospecting and work on it daily to identify new business opportunities. That means having the ability to research potential buyers, conduct cold outreach, and create new opportunities.

Social selling is about delivering effective messaging through in-person, email, or social media, such as LinkedIn to help reach potential buyers. Your sales enablement strategy should also include a documented social selling plan so reps can reference it as they learn.

You want to make sure sellers aren't copying and pasting your sales pitch into every direct message or posting on LinkedIn five times a day. Personalized outreach coupled with a steady presence is the balance that should be strived for.

Business acumen is an important skill for showing the employer that you understand their business and how best to sell the product or service. Whether you are trying to understand an annual financial report or the factors affecting your customers, the basics of good business are always critical.

A sales rep should use business-level information (like financial statements) to move a conversation forward around relevant pain points and ROI.

Active listening is all about staying in the moment and ensuring the seller clearly understands what the buyer is saying. In today's fast-paced business world, there's always a temptation to formulate a response or follow-up question before the buyer finishes talking.

Sale reps, therefore, should try to paraphrase, whenever possible, what was just said or slow the conversation down as needed to ensure they can genuinely position themselves as consultative sellers.

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Updated August 18, 2021