A sales associate job can range from an entry-level position in a retail store to a high-powered career selling multi-million dollar yachts. The qualifications for sales associates will vary according to the level of sales expertise and experience required by the hiring company. In every case a successful sales associate must be persistently persuasive and impervious to defeat. It also helps to have an engaging personality.
Many sales associate jobs require or strongly prefer candidates who have earned a degree in business of a sales related field. Check out the programs below which offer free information:
Sales Associate Job Responsibilities
Not to be confused with a sales supervisor, sales associates are considered “soldiers” in the field. They are responsible for marketing a product or products in a very direct way.
Sales associates make daily contact with customers or clients, working to persuade and convince, always with the underlying goal of making a sale. Because of this close relationship with customers, sales associates must consider themselves goodwill ambassadors for their employer. It is essential that associates maintain a calm demeanor under every sort of job stress, whether from customers or from sales supervisors. They must learn to establish a deportment that is conducive to selling.
Retail sales associate jobs are usually considered entry-level. Examples would be a clerk in a video store, a cashier in a big box store, or a saleswoman in a dress shop. Entry level sales associates can be required to assist customers in finding products or providing information about products to facilitate a sale.
Sales associates can be required to stock and re-stock products, sometimes after the store has closed for the day. They can be required to work irregular hours and shifts, and to be available weekends and nights. They are often required to use a cash register and to complete financial transactions. They may be required to submit to a background check and/or polygraph test.
Sales associates working with high-ticket items are expected to have several years of previous selling experience and be able to demonstrate the ability to produce results. They must be intimately familiar with the product and be able to convey a sincere belief in its ability to improve the life of the buyer. They are often on-call 24 hours a day and must be willing to go to great lengths to please a client or customer.
Sales associates who market via email, social media or other technologies can be expected to obtain immediate and lasting sales results. In a typical sales associate job there can be a great deal of pressure to reach a certain sales threshold to maintain employment, and also competition with other sales associates. Sales is a career for someone who is a people person.
Sales Associate Training and Education Requirements
Sales associates are usually required to have a minimum of a high school education, but even this can be waived in some cases. However, some higher education in the field of marketing and sales can be a very desirable trait in a sales associate. Essential skills of persuasion and leadership can be developed by taking a few college classes or obtaining an undergraduate degree.
Although previous experience is not always required, many employers will demand a minimum amount of experience in the field. Depending on the products being sold, there can also be certain certifications required to qualify for employment.
Sales Associate Salary and Wages
The salary and wage structure for sales associates is extremely broad, ranging from minimum wage to 100 percent commission based. There is sometimes a blend of salary and commission, which maintains a base income but also encourages the sales associate to sell more to earn more. There is no doubt that the most successful sales associates can earn gross incomes in the six-figure range and beyond.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Sales Associate Certifications
Generally, no certification is needed to be a sales associate; it is more common for professionals to seek sales certification.
There are, however, certain types of certificates required in order to sell particular products, and an associate can be required to comply. For instance, an insurance sales associate can be certified to sell life insurance, or a stockbroker can be certified by the National Association of Security Dealers, or a firearms seller can be certified to sell guns.
In most cases the object in certifying a sales associate is to ensure an ethical and/or legal sale and that the salesperson is qualified to sell a product. Such products would include those that could harm the buyer if the sale was not properly managed.
Sales Associate Professional Associations
The marketing and sales field has an overabundance of professional associations, many of them dedicated to particular fields of the industry. Most professional sales associations are pleased to accept sales associates. For example, The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals has an Associate level membership at a fraction of its Professional level.
The Sales Association is an organization dedicated to assisting sales professionals in connecting with one another. It offers encouragement for sales associates and urges members to strive for professionalism.
Often, professional sales associations will urge a casual sales associate to become a certified professional. Sales and Marketing Executives International Inc. is one such organization.