How to become a Sales Representative

Sales representatives sell goods and services to industry, business and professional establishments, as well as to wholesale or retail outlets.

Personal requirements of a Sales Representative

  • Enjoy working with people
  • Friendly and confident manner with a pleasant personality
  • Able to work without direct supervision
  • Able to clearly present product and service information
  • Good personal presentation
  • Excellent communication skills

Education & Training for a Sales Representative

You can work as a sales representative without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have relevant sales qualifications. To work as a sales representative in a specialised or technical area, you will usually need to undertake post-secondary study in that area. For example, chemical sales representatives often need tertiary or technical qualifications, plus experience, in fields such as science or engineering to work in industrial chemical sales. As subjects and prerequisites may vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You can also become a sales representative through a traineeship in Business to Business Sales or Business Sales. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require you to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Sales Representative

Sales representatives may perform the following tasks:

  • visit clients to demonstrate use of products, show samples and take orders
  • arrange a schedule of visits to major potential buyers by contacting people and making appointments
  • develop and update knowledge of their own products and the products of their competitors
  • speak with other sales and marketing personnel in their company to determine the best methods of promoting products
  • establish customers’ needs and explain and demonstrate products to them, which may involve providing technical descriptions of products and how they may be used
  • quote and negotiate prices and credit terms
  • prepare contracts and record orders
  • report to employers on sales and provide feedback about the marketing of new or established products
  • carry out formal presentations of products using videos and other training aids, attend promotional markets and organise product displays
  • work on telemarketing campaigns
  • plan and work towards meeting sales targets and budgets
  • use e-business technology.

Working conditions for a Sales Representative

Sales representatives spend a lot of time travelling from one location to another, including country and interstate locations. Meeting sales targets and budgets can be stressful.

Employment Opportunities for a Sales Representative

Sales representatives are employed by retail, wholesale, insurance and manufacturing organisations, which are usually located in large cities. They may be required to cover city, suburban or country areas, or in some cases, interstate or overseas territories. When taking on a sales position, ensure that you understand the terms of employment. Some jobs are paid on a ‘commission only’ basis. Other jobs offer a ‘guaranteed’ income, but this payment may be advanced against future commission earnings and could be reclaimed by the employer when you leave. If you are employed as a subcontractor, you will effectively be in business for yourself, without entitlements to sick pay, annual leave or other benefits.

Specialisations:


Building and Plumbing Supplies Representative

A building and plumbing supplies representative promotes and sells hardware and supplies. Products may include paint, plaster, builders' tools, wire, timber, wood products and plumbing and electrical supplies.


Business Services Representative

A business services representative promotes and sells credit information, debt collection services, business publication subscriptions, databases, advertising or other business or financial services.


Chemical Sales Representative

A chemical sales representative sells basic chemicals and chemical products to all sectors of the manufacturing industry and to the farming sector. Chemical sales representatives provide technical advice to customers and relay the feedback from customers to production chemists or quality control chemists.


Insurance Sales Representative

An insurance sales representative helps individuals and businesses to understand their insurance needs, explains their options to them and assists them in purchasing appropriate insurance policies. Insurance sales representatives can work in property, casualty, life or health insurance.


Motor Vehicle Parts and Accessories Representative

A motor vehicle parts and accessories representative promotes and sells motor vehicle parts and accessories to retail or wholesale establishments.


Personal and Household Goods Representative

A personal and household goods representative promotes and sells consumer products such as toys, sporting goods, stationery, floor coverings, textiles, footwear, photographic equipment, toiletries and other household and personal goods.


Pharmaceutical Representative

A pharmaceutical representative promotes, takes orders for and sells products such as over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and medical equipment ranging from sticking plasters, tubing and pacemakers to diagnostic equipment. Pharmaceutical representatives need to be aware of federal and state or territory legislation governing advertising and promotion of medicines.


Sales Demonstrator

A sales demonstrator displays and demonstrates goods at commercial premises, exhibitions or private homes and answers questions and offers advice about the use of products. In retail outlets, a sales demonstrator may arrange stock and ensure that it is attractively presented for sale. They may also take orders, arrange payment and delivery or collection, and distribute catalogues and advertising material.

Additional Information
A drivers licence is usually required. It may also be worth gaining experience in sales through working in a selling environment such as retail. This provides an opportunity to become familiar with the product being sold, while also developing an understanding of the basics of selling and insight into the needs of clients.
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