Sales representatives are just that: representing the company to the buying public. The sales representative will be the first impression of the company the prospective customers will see and so a good impression must be left on them in order to retain their patronage. The sales representative will have superior knowledge of the company’s products and services and be able to point the consumer to the proper department. Sales personnel will usually have the authority to satisfy consumer problems or questions as long as it is not an administrative question pertinent only to management. Sales representatives interact with all departments of the company in order to satisfy not only customer service, but also facets such as inventory and loss management.
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Sales representatives have an enticing choice between demonstrating products through which gaining leads could perpetuate their business, representing a brand such as cars or cell phones or photography, to many more possibilities. Products usually sold by home business owners such as health and wellness products, weight control products, green cleaning products, home decor and the list is endless all enjoy association through the sales representative.
The sales representative will work on the sales floor or the customer service desk. The sales person may perform demonstrations or set appointments. The sales person will be familiar with the stock room, where he will locate stock not on the sales floor for customers. The sales representative will be familiar with pricing and how to ascertain that which is properly marketed and that which is on sale. The sales person will be sure his area is clean and stock is well supplied. He will be responsible for pulling stock which is out of date, not properly marked for that week’s sales or that which is destined for the clearance bin. The sales representative will interact with customers, seeking satisfaction for returns, trades and money back for items not wanted or damaged. He will contact management in situations requiring a management decision and interact with other department heads and cashiers in the course of business. If representing a brand or product, the sales representative will interact with customers in accordance with company guidelines, ensuring a pleasant experience to all while growing the brand or product.
Training and Education Requirements
Some sales representatives have a little business administration education or marketing education, considering this is a job a lot of people do part time while going to school or working two jobs. A high school diploma is usually the education level for this type position because it is filled with a variety of people, from the college student needing extra money to the housewife who wants to supplement the family income, to the single person struggling to make the bills and seeking extra help. Training is usually provided by the department head or manager on duty, as in the case of grocery or department store personnel. Those in sales of independent products or demonstrations are trained by company personnel before letting them go on their own, perhaps supervised at first. Either way, experience will provide training and education.
Salary and Wages
Many persons in sales begin with minimum wage and receive raises on a schedule determined by the company. Continuing education can be a good way to get a good raise and supplement the sales person’s knowledge. Those who have been in sales for many years often begin well above minimum wage and receive raises at the discretion of the company. Most people in sales are part time employees and will not receive the set salary of a full time employee or one well versed and educated in marketing and business administration. It is entirely possible for the beginning sales representative working part time to make up to $13,000 per year, based on part time employment being defined as thirty hours at the rate of nine dollars per hour.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Certain categories of business require certifications, such as the food industry. If the sales representative accepts a position demonstrating a food product, for example, he will need to be certified in the safe handling of that food item. A sales representative could take a position in insurance or real estate, but those require licensing according to the sales person’s state regulations. Sales representatives choosing cell phone sales, for instance, would have to be certified in the particulars of the product they sell so they can ascertain possible repairs or other maintenance issues which might need to be performed. The general area of sales in such businesses as department stores, grocery stores, car salesmen and the like do not need specific certifications.
Unlike the medical community, for example, some genre of sales enjoy no society in which its personnel can claim association. If the sales position is in a business such as insurance the professional association would be the Professional Insurance Marketing Association. The sales representative involved with timeshares within the hospitality industry would benefit from being part of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. There are a few associations available to the sales person, but department stores, for example, would have none.