Career Guide: Sales Representative

Sales representative

So you’re majoring in communication, and you want to know what jobs fit your personality? Look no further! Working as a sales representative is right up your alley.

What is the field of, “Sales”?

Sales is a blanket term for all the occupations that have to deal with selling or distributing a product. Jobs in the field of sales include but are not limited to: cashiers, models (yes, models), travel agents, and retail sales workers. The median pay in 2016 for the jobs previously mentioned is between $20,180 and $36,460, with the travel agent being the highest paid. Now, those jobs either require a high school diploma or no formal education at all. So, you’re probably wondering, “What if I have a Bachelor’s degree in communication?!” Read onward!

What is a Sales Representative?

A sales representative is someone who essentially acts as a middleman between products and consumers. Their job is to promote their product and keep the product in good standing with it’s respective audience. For example, lets say you’re working as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. Your company invents a new drug that could potentially prevent/cure cancer. You’re job would be to promote a positive image of that drug by emphasizing it’s excellence to doctors. Your main goal is to sell that drug, and sell doesn’t just mean literally distributing the drug. It means being able to communicate with consumers why they should want that drug. That’s where your communications degree comes in handy.

What They Do and Work Environment

Sales representatives typically work for a wholesaler or large manufacturing company. Their job is to sell the companies’ product to government agencies, businesses and other organizations. They contact customers to explain their product, answer any questions, and negotiate prices. The work environment for a sales representative requires a lot of diligence. Sales representatives work under a lot of pressure, as their income and job security depends on the amount of merchandise they sell. It’s a competitive field, so it’s not for the fainthearted. Furthermore, sales representatives travel a lot. Some companies even provide their sales representatives with their very own company car. Pretty sweet deal!

Requirements and Salary

To start, you typically only need a high school diploma to obtain a job as a sales representative. However, if you have a bachelors degree, the field of sales expands tremendously. It allows for you to sell more products, thus making you a more versatile employee. Moreover, a bachelors degree allows for you to sell more technical and scientific products. The median annual wage for a sales representative that doesn’t sell technical or scientific products was $57,140 in May 2016. Whereas the median annual wage for a sales representative that does sell technical or scientific products was $78,980 in May 2016.

Job Outlook and What You Need To Be Successful!

Employment of sales representatives is projected to grow 7% from 2014 to 2024, which is about average for all occupations. Opportunities for employment are best in independent agencies that represent multiple manufacturers. This is because they operate on a fee basis, which means they charge a fee for all of the manufacturers they represent. The more manufacturers you represent, the more money you make!

To succeed in this industry, your communication skills need to be smooth and persuasive. You must be able to handle rejection professionally. Also, you must be personable and easy to talk to, adding a humane element to your personality and charisma. No one wants to buy from someone they feel is trying to one-up them. Customers are more prone to buy from someone they  feel genuinely cares about their best interest, almost like a friend; a friend that can offer them something that other sales representatives can not.

What You Can Do Now!

So you’re in college and you want to pursue a job as a sales representative. What should you do? Find an internship! The best way to get your foot in the door is to intern or train as a sales representative for a certain company. If you do well, they’ll most likely hire you after your get your bachelors degree. That being said, remember what I mentioned earlier. You may not get a job right out of college, and you must be able to deal with this rejection professionally.

Besides finding an internship, there are other ways to prepare yourself. Practice good conversation in every aspect of your life. Let the other person speak, process what they said thoughtfully, and respond accordingly. Learn to practice empathy, which is the idea of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. This allows you to take someone else’s perspective, which helps tremendously in negotiating. If you know what someone is thinking or feeling, you’re much more likely to communicate your ideas more effectively. While good communication is innate for some, it definitely is something that can be practiced and improved upon. Take your communication classes seriously, as they’re your best tools at your disposal for the years to come!


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