Most businesses rely on a hungry and successful sales team to close deals and win the new business they require for survival. Sales executives play a key role in this dynamic, working hard to deliver on personal and team sales targets, which propel the company towards its overall aims.
People in these positions need to be confident in themselves, their own abilities to sell, and the products that they are selling. They also need a thorough understanding of the needs of their customers, and an ability to improvise and adapt to different situations and challenges.
Key skills for sales executive jobs.
The key skills needed by a sales executive include the following:
- Confidence – successful sales executives have a passion for what they are selling that others can see immediately, and they have the assurance and charisma to inspire confidence in others.
- Communication skills – excellent spoken and written communication with fluency across a wide range of media including telephone, email and web chat, as well as in-person meetings.
- Resilience – the ability to keep on pushing to make that sale, and to get straight back into action and work on one elsewhere after being rejected.
- Knowledge of the field – a good all-round knowledge of the product or service area in relation to which the sales are being made.
This role suits people with a lot of drive and motivation, people who love a challenge and those who enjoy competing against others from the same or rival businesses to see who can make the most difficult sales or the greatest quantity of them.
Beyond the sales executive job description - the job role.
Sales executives are employed by a variety of businesses, and are responsible for ensuring the company is constantly generating new customers. A useful tool for anyone looking for a sales executive job is to locate a Sales recruitment agency.
A large part of the role involves building trusted relationships with potential new customers. To do this, they have to travel to meet prospects first hand, and demonstrate the benefits of products and services via presentations and trade shows.
Day to day.
Sales executives may also spend their time negotiating with potential clients, and thoroughly researching the needs of their target market.
In addition, sales executives need to maintain positive relationships with the customers and clients to whom they have sold previously, in order to secure repeat business and potentially up-sell and cross-sell to them if future opportunities present themselves.
Sales executive roles can vary hugely, depending on the type of business they are with, and the market that particular business is targeting. As an example, workers in business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales executive jobs often require vastly different skill sets to each other.
Tips for success.
To succeed, individuals in these positions need to be able to work effectively under the pressure of sales targets, and have the natural charisma to win the trust and affection of sceptical customers and prospects. They need to be able to listen, as well as speak with confidence, so that they can mould their pitches directly to each individual customer's specific needs.
Individuals in these roles also need to be competitive, but have the ability to channel their ambition in a constructive way, which benefits the whole team.
When dealing with other businesses, the discussions around a transaction are often focussed primarily on pricing and negotiations. When selling to consumers, however, a sales executive may need to spend more time building trust slowly and highlighting benefits – especially when selling high value products.
Sales executive roles can also vary depending on whether the individual is dealing with outbound or inbound sales. A position in outbound sales typically requires more traditional sales skills, as the other party has not solicited the contact, let alone the transaction.
Typical salaries in sales executive jobs.
Starting salaries for sales executives are very variable, in part because of the different hours worked as standard in different positions. They are generally somewhere between £17,000 and £35,000 per annum, but with experience, people in this profession can expect to earn a lot more. Some sales executives earn as much as £43,000 even before progressing to the next step on the career ladder. It’s also a job that sometimes supports salaries with commission, and one in which generous bonuses can be available.
Sales executive positions often require working long hours, and they frequently involve travel which, though covered by expenses, means that execs often won’t have the option of going straight home at the end of the day. They may spend a lot of time on the road, sleeping in hotels. This can be difficult for those with families, but the good news is that senior positions are more often office based, so those who can work their way up will find that life gets easier. Of course, many people are attracted to the position because of the opportunities for travel that it offers, and enjoy leading a dynamic lifestyle, seeing new places and meeting lots of interesting new people.
Because this is a profession that depends a lot on natural ability, there’s some truth to the adage that anyone can make it in sales, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have some qualifications with which to back that up. An NVQ or SVQ in sales management, a level 5 diploma in sales and account management or a Level 6 Executive Diploma in Strategic Sales and Account Management are among the qualifications available and the flexibility of many sales positions makes it practical to study for them alongside work. This can be a very effective route to a salary rise or promotion.
Opportunities for progression in sales executive jobs.
Successful sales executives often rise up the chain surprisingly quickly. With layers of seniority in the sales team stretching right up to positions of line manager, international sales manager and sales director, there is plenty of scope for progression.
More general management roles are also within reach of successful sales workers. Some of the skills required to succeed in sales also overlap with those used in marketing. This means that some sales professionals choose to gravitate into that area as their career progresses.