Sales Representative Career Overview, Salaries, Training required & Job Opportunites
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Sales Representative

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Career Overview

Sales representatives are a lot like retail workers at your local department store but on a bigger scale. Instead of selling products to a single customer, sales representatives sell merchandise fresh from the wholesaler or manufacturer directly to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.As a sales representative, most of your time will be spent following up on leads and researching potential clients. You'll be busy speaking to customers, making sales calls, and pitching to potential clients. But signing new clients is only half the battle. It's also incredibly important to maintain the ones you already have. You have to make sure each of your clients are satisfied with your services and address any concerns they might have about your product. If you don't check in with them regularly, it could get awkward when they tell you they want to see other sales representatives and dump you for one of your competitors. You definitely do not what that to happen.One of the benefits of becoming a sales representative is the wide selection of products and industries you could work with. You could choose to represent office supplies, clothing, food companies, scientific products, mechanical equipment, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's a pretty solid chance you'll be working with a product you care about. Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life, right?

Salaries and Job Outlook*

2013 Median Annual Pay
Number of Jobs in 2013
Projected Growth Rate
9.6 %

Education and Training

Degrees Required:
High School Diploma

The amount of education you need depends on the industry you want to work in. Most of the time, all you really need is a high school diploma. But when it comes to more technical or scientific products, a bachelor's degree might be required to give you a better understanding of how the product works.You'll likely participate in an actual training program, where you'll learn sales and negotiation techniques. Your company might even send you to seminars or conferences that teach you about upcoming trends in your industry or advanced sales techniques.

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Valued Traits & Abilities

Sales Skills
Communication Skills
Negotiation Skills

Career Opportunities

Inside Sales Representative

Inside sales representatives make most of their sales over the phone in an office setting. They mainly focus on finding new clients and make the initial sales pitch. They also talk to speak any customers already interested in the product, and draw up the paperwork needed to make the sale.

Outside Sales Representative

Outside sales representatives get a little more personal with clients, since they visit clients in person. They're constantly on the road, meeting new clients face-to-face or visiting existing clients to address any concerns they might have regarding the product.

Sales Engineer

Sales engineers are just sales representatives who specialize in technical or scientific products. In order to sell a product, you have to really understand how it works. That's why sales engineers usually have a higher level of education, and often team up with sales representatives for certain products.

Work Environment

Sales representatives spend a lot of time on the phone, and most travel quite a bit. They spend a lot of time pitching to new clients while continuing to check up on current ones. Many sales representatives work for a single company, but you could represent several companies and sell several different products.It's not all sales calls and travel visit though, since the job can easily become stressful. Many sales representatives work long, irregular hours that sometimes dip into the weekend. Sometimes, your income might even depend on how much merchandise you sell. Most companies set sales quotas, and you could experience a pay cut if you fell behind.

* Source: BLS Data - 2013