What Does a Sales Representative Do? (And How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sales representatives work on the sales floor to address customer enquiries and secure sales. To become a successful sales representative, you can understand your company's products and services to address your customers' needs. Learning about the characteristics you need for the job can help you competently perform in this role. In this article, we discuss what a sales representative does, their average salary, how to become one and tips on applying for a job as a sales representative.

What does a sales representative do?

A sales representative assists customers to convince them to make a purchase. They might work directly for the company producing the goods or for an independent brand that sources products from manufacturers and wholesalers. Usually, sales representatives are a customer's primary point of contact with a company. This puts them in a pivotal position, acting as a representative of their brand's values and goals. To be successful in this field, you can develop a deep understanding of your customers and the products you're promoting to them.

When hiring for a sales representative, recruiters want candidates that can comfortably communicate with different personalities to achieve their sales targets. Here are some of the key characteristics and responsibilities they may describe in a job description:

  • Serve customers by selling products that meet their needs

  • Manage existing client accounts, obtaining orders and establishing new accounts to grow business

  • Employ a variety of sales tactics, including cold calling and attending trade show events

  • Study sales volume to forecast sales and alter sales efforts

  • Liaise with management on sales efforts through detailed reports

  • Monitor competition by gathering information on pricing, products, new products, delivery schedules and merchandising techniques

  • Recommend changes to products, services and inventory by evaluating results

  • Maintain professional and technical knowledge about the brand's products and services by attending educational workshops

  • Collaborate with the sales team to improve customer experience and to achieve sales quotas

  • Maintain a respectful and positive attitude at all times, especially when dealing with customers

Related: Your Online Career Coach: Advanced Job Search Tips to Get the Job

Average salary of a sales representative

The job market often has many jobs for sales representatives, however, finding a role that suits your interests and salary requirements may take some time. In Hong Kong, the average pay for a sales representative highly depends on your qualifications, skills and industry. Employers that value the sales department of their company and seek to hire top talent can offer a more attractive salary and benefits package. In the digital age, branding has become crucial to the sales process. Thus, presenting yourself as a candidate who aligns with the brand's personality can give you an edge over other candidates.

In Hong Kong, the average salary of a sales representative is $222,095 per year. As you invest in your skills and grow your resume, you can increase your earning potential, too.

How to become a sales representative

Since there are only a few requirements to become a sales representative, it's often regarded as a relatively simple career path to enter. However, developing your qualifications and experience in a productive direction can help you secure a more fulfilling role. The following are a few steps detailing how you can become a sales representative:

1. Earn a formal academic qualification

The educational background of sales representatives is diverse. Most recruiters require a minimum of a high school diploma, however, professionals can also opt for either vocational training or earn a university degree to increase their employability. Receiving formal training after high school is important because it can give you practical experience through coursework and feedback from your professors. This can lead to more opportunities later in life, such as transferrable skills that can allow you to change careers.

Most recruiters seek job candidates with a higher education qualification as it portrays their growth mindset, an attractive characteristic that helps propel organisations forward.

Related: Tips From a Recruiter: How to Stand Out When Changing Careers

2. Enhance your social skills

While studying, you can join extracurricular activities to develop your soft skills. For example, playing for a sports team or hosting a board games evening encourages you to get comfortable around distinct personalities. Since sales is a highly social role, building your professional network in your personal time can benefit your career trajectory. Your networking skills allow you to connect with new customers and potential recruiters, too. The more you practise your interpersonal skills, the more naturally they can come to you and the more genuine you can appear in front of others.

3. Receive on-the-job training

Finding a job as a sales representative is important to improving your competency in the role. During the job-seeking process, try to identify employers that provide a holistic training and development program. The more support you get from your team, the more knowledge you can have to address your customers' enquiries and concerns.

On-the-job training is especially essential at the beginning of your career. No matter how prepared you feel with your educational background, as a new graduate, having mentors you can learn from can help you increase sales, your knowledge and abilities. This can help ensure you feel confident as a representative of your brand.

4. Certify your skills

Certification may not be necessary for a sales representative, but investing in your technical skills can increase your employability. You can either register for a skills training workshop or take an online course to learn at your own pace. These certifications can look impressive on a resume because they can distinguish you from other candidates. They can demonstrate your work ethic and commitment to maintaining your relevance. If you intend to specialise in a specific industry, such as fashion or technology sales, proof of your industry knowledge also enhances your employability.

5. Specialise in your preferred industry

After gaining some experience in a sales position, you would have a better mental picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Use this information to consider specialising in an industry that interests you. Becoming an expert in a particular area can make you more appealing to certain employers. Companies may also pay more to hire specialists as they can draw from their experience to propel the growth of a brand.

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

Sales representative skills

Successful sales representatives can employ a variety of soft skills to effectively perform in their role. Consider the following soft skills to invest in your growth:

  • Customer service skills: As a sales representative, you can prioritise your customer's needs and interests. Strong customer service skills encourage you to listen to their ideas and attend to their needs so that you can capture a sale.

  • Communication skills: You can develop the ability to pick up on verbal and nonverbal cues as a sales representative to determine whether your sales tactics are working. Paying attention to your tone of voice, body language and facial expressions invites customers to open up to you, increasing your chances of securing a sale.

  • Negotiation skills: In corporate roles, negotiation is key to settling on the best deal for both parties involved. Effective negotiation skills can maximise your profits and maintain your relationship with customers.

  • Adaptability skills: Sometimes a sale can fall apart despite the amount of effort you put into the deal. Thus, as a sales representative, adaptability is crucial to your ability to move on from disappointments. Managing your emotions can safeguard your professional network and help you identify novel opportunities.

Tips on finding a job as a sales representative

When applying for a role as a sales representative, demonstrating your interpersonal skills can get you closer to getting hired. Here are some tips for you to consider when finding a job as a sales representative:

  • Convey respect at all times. In every email to a recruiter, follow the proper business etiquette with polite salutations and a thankful attitude to show your professionalism. Presenting yourself as a considerate job candidate tells recruiters you will treat customers with the same respect in the role.

  • Dress appropriately for an interview. When applying for a sales position, your interviewer can pay close attention to your dress code as it suggests how you present yourself in front of customers. You can make sure you look neat and well-groomed to impress during this stage.

  • Follow up with the recruiter. After your interview, remember to send a thank-you note to your interviewer. This way, you communicate your interest in the role while showing gratitude for their time and effort. Kindness is a desirable quality most employers want in their sales force.

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