Sales representatives deliver more than product pitches. They form relationships with new and existing customers so that the manufacturers, wholesalers and service providers will have a steady stream of income and building of trust. Unlike most sales people in retail, those who work in manufacturing, industrial and wholesale settings usually have specialized knowledge of scientific, technical or engineering concepts. We are going to present what entails the sales representative job description.
Job Overview: What Does a Sales Representative Do?
Within the sales representative job description lie the roles of company or product ambassador, salesperson, consultant, negotiator, and researcher. Sales representatives inform current and prospective customers about products, services, and companies. Also, the duties and skills of sales representatives help them cultivate relationships between customers and providers of goods and services and continuous business.
Sales Representative Job Duties
- Identify potential customers and clients based on business directories, leads and referrals from existing customers, visitors to trade shows and conferences.
- Discuss business, product or service needs with new and current customers.
- Obtain blueprints, surveys, drawings and other documents for use by company engineers in formulating bids.
- Prepare or distribute literature, videos and also other presentations of information about company and products or services.
- Describe features, technical specifications, and uses of products or services.
- Distribute samples to existing or prospective customers.
- Present and negotiate price, credit and other sales or service agreement terms and conditions.
- Answer customer questions about availability, delivery schedules, warranties and servicing of products.
- Ensure scheduled or proper delivery of products and services.
- Offer ongoing technical support to the customer after purchase.
- Suggest additional uses of a product.
- Read publications or online content concerning technological advances, upgrades, changes and also other matters concerning the products or services.
Sales Representative Job Essential Skills
Customer-Service. The first and foremost thing from the sales representative job description is the ability to comprehend the customer’s needs and promptly answer questions or concerns. Customer service skills also include listening and presenting facts, opinions, and guidance credibly and clearly.
Persuasive. The sales representative job description contains the element of convincing customers, including new ones, to purchase products or services. The skills of persuasion involve confidence, knowledge of the product and the customer’s needs, clearly portraying the benefits of the product and contrasting the company’s wares with those of competitors.
Research. Given the technical nature of many products and services, sales representatives must have skills in finding current, updated information. The content of the research may include product updates, industry and economic trends, regulations and recalls. In the securities industry, in particular, sales representatives must have information on companies and their financial status, industries and economic data.
Becoming a Sales Representative Professional
The industry in which a sales representative seeks to work will shape the necessary education, background, and certifications. Despite the diversity of sectors, sales representatives generally can enter the field with little or no experience.
Qualifications and Training
For sales representatives dealing with nontechnical goods and services, such as food and clothes, a high school diploma will normally suffice for educational credentials.
Those who deal in technical, scientific or financial products need at least some college education and, depending on the employer, a bachelor’s degree. O*NET reports that 39 percent of sales representatives in scientific and technical sectors were college graduates and another three out of ten had at least some college courses but not a degree.
The type of college education depends upon the company or goods being sold. For instance, pharmaceutical representatives may have classes or degrees in biology, chemistry, biochemistry or health. Manufacturing sales representatives may need an engineering background. The Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation offers the Certified Professional Manufacturers’ Representative and Certified Sales Professional certifications.
In the securities field, candidates may major in or include in their course of study: finance, accounting or business administration. Depending on the jurisdiction, sales representatives must obtain a license to sell securities, insurance policies and other financial products. Those who serve as or are considered securities brokers must be licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which administers examinations for that purpose.
Generally, employers train sales representatives on the types of products and services. Orientation may also include tours of plants and descriptions of the manufacturing process.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, sales representatives generally are not required to have prior experience in such a role.
Depending on the employer, a prospective sales representative may need prior sales experience. Prior work in the industry may also prove helpful. For instance, sales representatives for fire and rescue equipment makers may have worked as emergency first-responders. Previous experience as an athlete may help aspiring sales representatives involved with sporting goods or apparel.
Sales representatives are generally full-time workers.
Most regular and weekday hours are devoted to calls and communications to prospects and existing customers. During evenings and weekends, in particular, sales representatives may research, plan, complete documents and review accounts.
Travel constitutes part of the sales representative job description. These professionals may visit offices, manufacturing or distribution facilities and trade shows. Depending on the distance from the home office to these destinations, sales representatives may have overnight stays away from home.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth of sales representatives in the wholesale and manufacturing sector should grow by seven percent through 2024, which conforms to the employment growth rate overall.
For sales representatives in “Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products,” O*NET says employment should rise between five and eight percent.
Independent sales agencies, which represent multiple brands and lines, should generate job growth of approximately 26 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Companies seeking to shed expenses are likely to turn to outside sales representatives. However, manufacturers and wholesalers likely will rely on sales representatives rather than customer service agents and call centers for follow-up and customer service.
In the financial and securities arena, the hiring of sales representatives and agents should rise by ten percent through 2024. So, with its prospects of high compensation, securities, and financial industry sales agent jobs should prove competitive as the number of applicants exceeds the number of available openings.
Also, after certain studies are completed, like a bachelor’s or master’s degree, there is always the possibility of promoting to sales manager.
Persistence, confidence, the ability to persuade and staying informed serve as important attributes of the sales representative job description. Their tasks include attracting new customers, retaining existing ones, answering their questions and concerns and updating them on new products and trends or regulations.
Companies generally compensate sales representatives through a mix of commissions, salaries and performance bonuses. Higher salaries and bonuses may exist in large companies or the financial services sector. Where pay prospects are strong, so will be competition for the jobs.