what is a sales representative?

Sales representatives are a company's direct connection to customers since they research markets and introduce the company's products to new clientele. As a sales representative, your role involves generating leads from market research and building relationships with potential customers with the aim of selling products. The process of attracting customers and selling products differs depending on the items you sell.

To attract customers, companies need to implement strategies that align with the industry, target demographic and nature of the business. For instance, if you sell B2B products, you won't use the same methods when selling to B2C customers. Regardless of the strategy, the ultimate goal of a sales representative is to build relationships and create awareness of the company's offering. They can then leverage those relationships to sell products.

Sales representatives work in many industries, as the products sold are diverse. For instance, you can work in companies selling soft drinks, office equipment, technology products or pharmaceutical supplies. The product you are selling determines your sales strategy. It's crucial to thoroughly understand the product to explain its uses and benefits to potential customers. It is also necessary to keep up with the latest sales techniques and customer preferences by attending trade shows and conferences.

Would working as a sales representative suit your patience and persistence? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a sales representative role.

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average sales representative salary

According to National Careers, the median salary of a sales representative joining the profession is £20,000 per year. Experienced sales representatives have a higher salary range of up to £52,000 annually. While most employers have base salaries for sales representatives, they also have commissions to incentivise employees to increase sales. With commissions, sales representatives often receive a monthly percentage of the total sales revenue. Some companies pay bonuses based on profits made instead of commissions.

how to increase your salary as a sales representative

To increase your compensation, improve your sales outcomes by selling more products. If your salary is commission-based, selling more products raises your earnings. Some industries or business sectors also pay higher rates to sales representatives. For instance, marketing tech products may attract a higher compensation package compared to selling cosmetic products. 

Your experience and skills can also raise or lower your compensation package. For instance, entry-level sales representatives are likely to earn lower basic salaries and attract lower commissions due to a lack of experience. When you are skilled in attracting customers and closing deals, your compensation package is higher due to your contribution to the company.

smiling woman standing on balcony
smiling woman standing on balcony

types of sales representatives

Sales representatives vary based on their industry or specific approaches and responsibilities in the role. Some sales representatives include:

  • manufacturer's sales representative: as a manufacturer's sales rep, you work for a product manufacturer to sell their services to wholesalers and stock retailers. You engage with the market, launch new products and stock company outlets. In most cases, these sales reps work on direct commissioning.
  • wholesaler's sales representatives: wholesaler's sales representatives represent dealers or wholesalers of durable or non-durable products. If you are a wholesaler's sales rep, you are responsible for supplying retailers or individual stock buyers with your employer's products.
  • retailer's sales representatives: this is the most familiar type of sales rep. Besides being the face of a company, they are found at the point of interaction with potential customers. As a retailer's sales representative, you constantly communicate with customers as you sell products and services.
  • external sales representative: outside sales representatives work outside the office, meeting clients face to face and building relationships with them.
  • internal sales representatives: inside sales representatives maintain an existing relationship with the company's customers. They reach out to clients through the phone or email.

working as a sales representative

Working as a sales representative requires self-confidence and motivation. It's helpful to maintain a positive attitude toward rejections. Read on for details on the nature of the profession, including daily tasks.


education and skills

To become a sales representative, you need the following academic qualifications:

  • university: sales representatives often pursue a degree in a sales-related subject. For instance, you can complete an undergraduate degree in psychology, marketing or business administration. A degree equips you with the sales skills for excelling in the role.
  • apprenticeship: you can find apprenticeship opportunities leading to sales representative roles in customer service, retail or marketing. For instance, you can complete a Level 3 IT technical salesperson higher apprenticeship or a Level 6 B2B sales professional degree apprenticeship.
  • work experience: you need work experience in a sales or marketing role to succeed as a sales representative. You can start in entry-level positions like customer service before becoming a field sales agent.

skills and competencies

Some of the skills that a sales representative needs include:

  • accounting skills: as a sales representative, you need to be good at working with finances. This is because sales are about making a profit for the company you represent. Therefore, you need to be able to balance your marketing expenditure and sales.
  • marketing skills: As a sales representative, marketing skills help you with advertising and pushing products and services into the market. These skills will help you generate leads and increase sales.
  • customer relations skills: dealing with customers is a primary duty of sales representatives. Therefore, having great interpersonal and customer service skills will help you maintain good relationships and handle all types of customers, including the furious ones.
  • research skills: being an advisor to your employer on sales matters requires you to conduct proper market analysis. This information helps you identify customers and what products to present to specific clients. That's why having good research skills is important in this position.
smiling man
smiling man


FAQs about working as a sales representative

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