Sales representative

sales executive sales engineer technical sales representative
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Retail and customer services
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Career outlook for sales representative

UK Salary Ranges

Entry-level

£20,000

Experienced

£52,000


Currently employed in Scotland

7,000

Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would use your people skills to sell your company’s products or services to businesses, shops or individuals.

Products you could sell include medicines, consumer goods or engineering parts.

You would:

  • Make appointments with new and current customers
  • Assess your customers’ needs
  • Make presentations on new products and special deals
  • Look after sales, prices, contracts and payments
  • Advise customers about delivery times and after-sales service
  • Keep in contact with customers in person and by telephone
  • Report your orders to the sales office
  • Keep up to date with what your competitors are doing
  • Go to conferences and seminars and follow industry trends
  • Meet sales targets
  • Write reports on sales trends

This job can come with a lot of pressure, as you may have to meet difficult targets. In some jobs you will be paid on commission, which means that for every item you sell you will make more money.

Working conditions

Hours

Your working hours would be 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may be able to choose your hours as long as you meet your sales targets. Making enough appointments to meet the needs of all your customers could mean that you sometimes need to put in longer hours. This could include working evenings and weekends.

Environment

You would often cover a wide geographical area and spend a lot of time driving to visit customers. When not on the road, you could be based in a local or regional sales office, or you could work from home.

Travel

Some jobs may involve travel abroad if your company sells to overseas customers.

UK employment status

Full-time

81%

Part-time

10%

Self employed

9%

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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Positive attitude
  • Negotiating
  • Managing resources
  • Attention to detail
  • Verbal communication
  • Cooperating
  • Networking
  • Respecting
  • Working with numbers

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Qualifications

Many employers  look for a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in subjects such as:

  • Management
  • Business
  • Marketing

For technical and medical sales a Higher National Diploma or degree relevant to the sector, such as engineering or science, might be needed.

Employers also value relevant work-based experience and qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Retail: Sales Professional (SVQ level 3). 

You can enter a Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most employers)
  • Maths (required by most employers)
  • Social studies subjects such as psychology
  • Administrative subjects
  • ICT subjects
  • Business subjects, such as business management
  • Design subjects such as fashion and textile technology or design and manufacture

You will also need

 There is no single entry route to this profession but previous sales experience and product knowledge is often required.

You will also need a driving licence for some jobs.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience in customer services and sales such as Skills for Work Retailing (SCFQ level 5) may also be of value when applying to courses or entry level sales jobs.

You can enhance your employability, prior to becoming a sales representative or once in the job, with Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) training and qualifications.