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Become A Sales Representative

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Working As A Sales Representative

  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • $54,000

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 A 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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Sales Representative Career Paths

Sales Representative
Sales Consultant Account Executive
Senior Sales Executive
8 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Account Manager
Director, Inside Sales
6 Yearsyrs
Account Representative Account Executive
Manager, Account Executive
5 Yearsyrs
Consultant Manager Account Manager
Strategic Accounts Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Consultant General Manager Territory Manager
Senior Territory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Account Manager Regional Sales Manager
National Sales Director
11 Yearsyrs
Specialist Team Leader Sales Manager
Branch Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Sales Specialist Store Manager Regional Sales Manager
National Accounts Sales Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sales Specialist Senior Sales Representative Senior Account Executive
Major Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales Specialist Store Manager Territory Manager
Territory Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales/Marketing Manager District Sales Manager
Regional Business Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Territory Sales Representative Territory Sales Manager District Sales Manager
Market Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sales/Marketing Store Manager Territory Manager
Territory Business Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales/Marketing Customer Service Manager Inside Sales Manager
Inside Sales Account Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Territory Sales Representative Sales Manager Regional Accounts Manager
Corporate Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Territory Sales Representative Sales Manager Sales Account Manager
Business Development Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales Person Sales Team Leader Inside Sales Manager
Outside Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Specialist Senior Sales Representative Territory Sales Manager
Sales Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Specialist Senior Sales Representative Key Account Manager
Account Development Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Personal Banker Finance Advisor Client Advisor
Consulting Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Sales Representative?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Outside Sales 3.8 years
Sales Professional 2.7 years
Sales Specialist 2.5 years
Sales Consultant 2.2 years
Sales Trainee 1.1 years
Top Careers Before Sales Representative
Cashier 14.8%
Manager 4.8%
Server 4.8%
Internship 4.1%
Waitress 2.3%
Owner 2.3%
Volunteer 2.2%
Top Careers After Sales Representative
Cashier 9.4%
Server 4.4%
Manager 4.3%
Owner 3.6%
Internship 2.9%

Do you work as a Sales Representative?

Sales Representative Demographics

Gender

Male

51.5%

Female

39.3%

Unknown

9.2%
Ethnicity

White

60.5%

Hispanic or Latino

18.4%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.1%

French

7.0%

Chinese

3.0%

Portuguese

3.0%

Mandarin

2.8%

German

2.7%

Arabic

2.5%

Italian

2.4%

Russian

2.1%

Japanese

1.8%

Cantonese

1.2%

Hindi

1.2%

Korean

1.1%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Polish

0.7%

Urdu

0.7%

Greek

0.5%

Tagalog

0.5%

Carrier

0.5%

Ukrainian

0.4%
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Sales Representative Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

21.2%

Arizona State University

5.5%

Michigan State University

4.9%

Miami Dade College

4.9%

Pennsylvania State University

4.7%

Florida State University

4.7%

The Academy

4.7%

University of Houston

4.3%

University of Central Florida

4.2%

Ohio State University

4.1%

Texas State University

4.0%

Brigham Young University

3.9%

University of South Florida

3.9%

University of Alabama

3.8%

Florida International University

3.8%

Kaplan University

3.6%

Texas A&M University

3.6%

Ashford University

3.5%

Temple University

3.4%

Georgia State University

3.4%
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Majors

Business

33.0%

Marketing

8.6%

Communication

6.1%

Psychology

5.6%

Criminal Justice

5.0%

Management

4.4%

Accounting

3.7%

Nursing

3.4%

General Studies

3.4%

Finance

3.1%

Education

2.6%

Health Care Administration

2.6%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Medical Assisting Services

2.6%

Biology

2.4%

Political Science

2.4%

Computer Science

2.3%

Kinesiology

2.3%

English

2.0%

Graphic Design

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

44.9%

Other

29.1%

Associate

12.2%

Masters

7.6%

Certificate

3.6%

Diploma

1.5%

License

0.6%

Doctorate

0.6%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$54,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$29,000
Min 10%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Oasis Outsourcing
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Delaware
Avg Experience Level
2.4 years
How much does a Sales Representative make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Sales Representative in the United States is $54,481 per year or $26 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $29,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $99,000.

Real Sales Representative Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Global Markets FX Sales Representative State Street Bank and Trust Company Boston, MA Oct 24, 2016 $176,550 -
$240,000
Partner Sales Representative, Systems Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Company Miami, FL May 20, 2016 $149,365
Sales Representative III Amazon Corporate LLC Seattle, WA Jan 18, 2016 $132,000
International Sales Representative The Delong Co., Inc. Clinton, WI Jun 07, 2016 $125,278
Sales Representative III Elemental Technologies LLC Weston, FL Mar 14, 2016 $120,000
Softlayer Sales Representative IBM Corporation Coppell, TX Mar 02, 2015 $120,000
Sales Representative Buckman Laboratories International, Inc. Memphis, TN Jan 21, 2016 $118,000
Sales Representative CMC Steel Fabricators, Inc. DBA CMC Steel Arizona Mesa, AZ Aug 26, 2016 $112,986
Biopharmaceutical Sales Representative Amgen Inc. Thousand Oaks, CA Jul 16, 2015 $112,894
Foods Department, Sales Representative, Coffee Mitsubishi International Corporation Los Angeles, CA Jan 13, 2015 $112,362
Sales Representative Mid Atlantic Packaging and Specialties, Inc. Montgomeryville, PA Jan 06, 2016 $110,000
Sales Representative Tremco Incorporated Altadena, CA Feb 15, 2016 $110,000
Sales Representative Herkules North America Corp. Ford City, PA Jun 16, 2015 $109,325 -
$110,000
Sales Representative Asarco LLC Tucson, AZ Mar 10, 2015 $69,192
Sales Representative Thomson Reuters (Tax & Accounting) Inc. Hoboken, NJ Sep 30, 2015 $69,028
Sales Representative Weir River LLC Los Angeles, CA Feb 01, 2015 $65,000
Sales Representative-Trilingual Natvan, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Aug 14, 2015 $64,875
Sales Representative Style In USA, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 12, 2015 $64,875
Sales Representative Cold Heading Company Warren, MI Jul 15, 2016 $64,750
Sales Representative Shinwon Ebenezer USA Inc. Rogers, AR Nov 09, 2016 $64,272
Sales Representative/System Specialist FEMO Operations LP Carrollton, TX Aug 22, 2016 $48,000
Sales Representative IMEX Vision LLC Irvine, CA Jun 23, 2015 $47,736
Sales Representative Hair Leader, LLC Norcross, GA Jun 27, 2016 $47,154
Sales Representative-Scientific Products Hi-TEC Enterprises Oxnard, CA Sep 20, 2015 $46,675
Sales Representative-Scientific Products Hi-TEC Enterprises Oxnard, CA Sep 15, 2015 $46,675
Sales Representative Mitsumi Electronics Corporation Novi, MI Aug 09, 2016 $46,400 -
$69,600

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Top Skills for A Sales Representative

  1. Customer Service
  2. Product Knowledge
  3. Sales Territory
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Worked with bookstore assessments that ensured quality customer service and stipulated essential provision.
  • Received recognition for demonstration of product knowledge and Challenger Selling during competitive simulation.
  • Developed sales territory in Silicon Valley, providing word processing equipment and services to the executive community.
  • Generated numerous cold calls and cultivated new clients through excellent telemarketing and communication skills.
  • Service established hospitality industry customers and develop new accounts for a major wine and spirit wholesaler.

What is it like to work as a Sales Representative

5.0

SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

October 30, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Sales Representative.. Show More

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

4.0

Sales

July 29, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Sales Representative.. Show More

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

5.0

Sales Personnel

May 23, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Sales Representative.. Show More

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

How Would You Rate Working As a Sales Representative?

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Top 10 Best States for Sales Representatives

  1. South Dakota
  2. Nebraska
  3. Arkansas
  4. Rhode Island
  5. North Dakota
  6. Wyoming
  7. Idaho
  8. Colorado
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Iowa
  • (305 jobs)
  • (657 jobs)
  • (846 jobs)
  • (391 jobs)
  • (360 jobs)
  • (195 jobs)
  • (583 jobs)
  • (2,477 jobs)
  • (1,826 jobs)
  • (1,217 jobs)

Top Sales Representative Employers

Jobs From Top Sales Representative Employers

Sales Representative Videos

A Day in the Life of a Sales Rep

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