Sales representatives deal with more than just pitching a product.
They have to build relations with existing and new clients to ensure the steady income and building of trust for the manufacturers, wholesalers, and service providers.
Unlike the retail sales reps, those employed in industrial, wholesale, or manufacturing areas need specialized knowledge of engineering, scientific, or technical concepts.
Below, we will discuss what the sales rep job requires and has to offer.
Article Table of Contents
What Does a Sales Representative Do
Sales representatives perform the functions of a company or product ambassadors, consultants, salespeople, researchers, and negotiators.
They deliver relevant and updated information about the products, services, and companies to the customers.
Also, they have to maintain relations between customers and providers using their unique skills and ensuring continuous business.
- Identify potential clients based on leads, business directories, referrals from existing customers, visitors and trade shows.
- Discuss product, service, and business needs with current and new customers.
- Obtain surveys, drawings, blueprints, and other documents for the company engineers to use in formulating bids.
- Prepare and distribute videos, literature, and other presentations about the company or its products and services.
- Describe technical specifications, features, and uses of products and services.
- Distribute samples to prospective and existing clients.
- Present and negotiate credit, price, and other sales or service agreement conditions and terms.
- Answer questions for customers about delivery schedules, availability, warranties, and servicing of products.
- Ensure proper and timely delivery of products and services.
- Offer ongoing support to the customers after the purchase.
- Suggest additional uses of a product.
- Read online content or publications for technological advances, changes, upgrades, and other matters concerning products or services.
Comprehending customers’ needs and answering their questions promptly is one of the key skills for sales representatives.
Customer service skills also include listening and presenting guidance, facts, opinions clearly and credibly.
Sales reps should be able to convince customers, existing and new ones, to buy services and products.
They should be confident, knowledgeable of the products as well as customers’ needs.
Additionally, they have to portray the benefits of the product to set it above the competition.
Many products and services can be quite technical, so sales reps should have skills to find current and updated information.
The research may include industry and economic trades, product updates, etc.
Besides, sales reps need to have information on companies and their financial status, as well as economic data and industries.
How to Become a Sales Representative
The required education, certifications, and background will depend on the industry in which a sales representative seeks to work.
Despite various sectors, sales reps can get a job with little to zero experience.
Training and Qualifications
Sales reps that are employed in nontechnical fields, such as retail or food-service, need only a high school diploma.
Those professionals that work in technical, scientific, or financial sectors need some college education.
Some employers may require a bachelor’s degree as well.
According to O*NET, 39% of sales reps in a technical or scientific sector have a college education and three out of ten professionals have at least some college courses but not a degree.
The education that sales reps need depends on the company and the goods or services they offer.
For example, sales reps in pharmaceuticals need classes or degrees in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or healthcare.
Sales representatives in manufacturing need some background in engineering.
There are Certified Professional Manufacturers’ Representative and Certified Sales Professional certifications available from the Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation.
In the area of securities, sales reps can choose a major or include classes covering finance, accounting, and business administration in their study.
In some jurisdictions, sales reps may need a license to sell securities, insurance policies, and other financial products.
Those who work as securities brokers should obtain a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which holds the relevant examinations.
Generally, sales reps are trained on the types of services and products by the employer.
This training may also include descriptions of the manufacturing process and tours of plants.
According to the US BLS, sales reps aren’t usually required to have experience.
Some experience may be required by the employer.
Experience in a specific industry can also be useful.
For example, sales reps for rescue and fire equipment may have experience as emergency first-responders.
If you are involved in selling sporting apparel or goods, previous experience as an athlete can be helpful.
Sales reps typically work full-time.
Usually, they spend regular and weekday hours on calls and communicating with potential or existing customers.
They may then spend evenings or weekends on research, completing documentation, planning, and reviewing accounts.
Sales representatives may have to travel a lot as well.
They visit offices, distribution or manufacturing facilities, and trade shows.
Depending on the destination they are visiting, they may have overnight stays away from home.
According to the BLS, the employment rate will grow by 7% by 2024 for sales reps in the manufacturing and wholesale sectors.
The overall employment rate is at the same level.
The “Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products,” sales reps will see the 5-8% growth, according to O*NET.
The job growth for independent agencies working with many brands is estimated at 26%.
Companies that want to reduce costs may hire outside sales reps.
However, wholesalers and manufacturers prefer to have their own representatives and call centers for follow-up and customer service.
In the field of securities and finance, the rate will increase by 10% by 2024.
These positions are competitive with high compensation in the area since the number of applicants exceeds the number of openings.
Also, with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you can advance to the position of a sales manager.
Sales representatives should be persistent, confident, persuasive, and informed.
Their duties include attracting customers, retaining existing ones, answering their concerns and questions and updating them on new products, regulations, and trends.
The compensations usually consist of salaries, commissions, and performance bonuses.
Larger companies and the financial sector offer higher salaries and bonuses.
With strong pay prospects, the competition for jobs will be also high.