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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
  • $52,416

    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 Jobs

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Sales Representative Career Paths

Sales Representative
Account Executive Sales Manager General Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Senior Account Manager Account Executive
District Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Store Manager District Manager Regional Sales Manager
Eastern Regional Sales Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Territory Manager District Sales Manager Sales Manager
Group Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Office Manager Account Manager
Key Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Territory Manager Account Manager
Major Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager General Manager Account Manager
National Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Sales Representative Account Executive Regional Sales Manager
National Accounts Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Sales Manager Regional Sales Manager
National Sales Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager Outside Sales Representative
Outside Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
General Manager District Manager District Sales Manager
Regional Sales And Marketing Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sales Manager General Manager Account Executive
Regional Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Sales Consultant
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Manager Operations Manager Account Executive
Senior Sales Executive
9 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Sales Manager
Senior Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Store Manager Operations Manager Territory Manager
Senior Territory Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Senior Sales Representative Account Manager
Strategic Accounts Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Sales Representative Account Manager
Territory Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Account Executive
Territory Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Manager Office Manager Account Manager
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Outside Sales 3.6 years
Sales Specialist 2.5 years
Sales Consultant 2.2 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 11.4%
Manager 5.2%
Internship 4.3%
Server 4.3%
Teller 3.5%
Owner 2.4%
Waitress 2.4%
Top Employers After
Cashier 5.9%
Manager 4.5%
Server 3.7%
Owner 3.6%
Teller 3.1%
Internship 3.0%

Do you work as a Sales Representative?

Sales Representative Demographics

Gender

Male

55.4%

Female

42.5%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

60.4%

Hispanic or Latino

18.2%

Black or African American

10.8%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

3.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.0%

French

7.5%

Chinese

3.2%

German

3.0%

Mandarin

3.0%

Portuguese

2.9%

Italian

2.5%

Arabic

2.4%

Russian

2.0%

Japanese

2.0%

Hindi

1.5%

Cantonese

1.2%

Korean

1.2%

Vietnamese

0.9%

Urdu

0.8%

Polish

0.7%

Greek

0.7%

Carrier

0.6%

Tagalog

0.5%

Hebrew

0.5%
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Sales Representative Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

19.3%

Michigan State University

5.9%

Florida State University

5.3%

Liberty University

4.6%

University of Central Florida

4.5%

Texas State University

4.5%

Arizona State University

4.5%

University of Alabama

4.4%

University of Houston

4.4%

Miami Dade College

4.3%

West Virginia University

4.3%

Pennsylvania State University

4.2%

University of South Florida

3.9%

Temple University

3.8%

Florida International University

3.7%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.7%

Texas Tech University

3.7%

University of Arizona

3.7%

University of North Texas

3.6%

Georgia State University

3.6%
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Majors

Business

33.3%

Marketing

9.2%

Communication

6.5%

Psychology

5.8%

Criminal Justice

4.8%

Management

4.7%

Accounting

3.5%

General Studies

3.2%

Finance

3.1%

Nursing

3.0%

Education

2.8%

Liberal Arts

2.6%

Biology

2.5%

Political Science

2.5%

Kinesiology

2.3%

Health Care Administration

2.3%

Computer Science

2.3%

English

2.0%

Medical Assisting Services

1.8%

Graphic Design

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.9%

Other

29.1%

Associate

11.0%

Masters

8.4%

Certificate

3.3%

Diploma

1.2%

Doctorate

0.6%

License

0.5%
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Internship
Temporary

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 Tremco Incorporated Altadena, CA Feb 15, 2016 $110,000
Sales Representative Mid Atlantic Packaging and Specialties, Inc. Montgomeryville, PA Jan 06, 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

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  1. Product Knowledge
  2. Customer Service
  3. Sales Territory
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided product knowledge support to targeted physicians and clinic market segments as well as competitive clinical research analysis.
  • Demonstrated skills in establishing and maintaining professional relationships through exceptional customer service and diligent follow up and problem resolution.
  • Prepared and submitted approved plans for sales territory management.
  • Serviced insurance and financial security needs of existing client base and developed new clients
  • Leveraged uniform rental industry knowledge and expertise to successfully acquire profitable new accounts.

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Top Sales Representative Employers

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Sales Representative Videos

A Day in the Life of a Sales Rep

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