What is a Sales Representative?

A sales representative showcases and sells a product or products to businesses, organizations, and government agencies, rather than selling directly to consumers. Sales representatives are critical to the manufacturers and wholesalers, as they are the ones that promote and market the merchandise for them.

There are quite a variety of jobs available for sales representatives, as the product/s being sold could range from soft drinks, candy, or office equipment, to pharmaceutical supplies. Each product requires an excellent understanding of the product, and sales representatives are expected to attend conferences and trade shows in order to keep up with products and customer needs.

What does a Sales Representative do?

A sales representative showing a business owner their product on the computer.

A sales representative sells retail products, goods, and services to customers. They work with customers to understand what their needs are, create solutions, and ensure a smooth sales process. They also work to find new sales leads through "cold calling", business directories, client referrals, or visiting new or existing clients.

Sales representatives may be under considerable pressure to meet sales quotas, and their income may be directly dependent on their work performance.

Skills needed by a sales representative:

Customer Service Skills
Sales representatives need to be able speak in a friendly manner to customers and potential customers, listening to what they need, and helping communicate options that may be of benefit to them and their situation.

Communication Skills Sales representatives need to describe to customers a product's different features, answer any questions they might have, and communicate why having the product would be of benefit to them.

Sales representative may have to work long hours, nights, or weekends, therefore being flexible with their schedule is key to succeeding in this career.

Sales representative don't make every sale, and at times a customer can be rude or disrespectful. Being able to bounce back, have a positive attitude, and continue forward is important in this type of work.

A sales representative definitely requires extensive product knowledge of whatever he or she is selling, and is more successful when skilled at talking to people and experienced at various sales tactics. At some companies, sales representatives are required to learn specific sales tactics, and will even train employees on the way they want their products sold.

Are you suited to be a sales representative?

Sales representatives have distinct personalities. They tend to be enterprising individuals, which means they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic. They are dominant, persuasive, and motivational. Some of them are also conventional, meaning they’re conscientious and conservative.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if sales representative is one of your top career matches.

Take the free test now Learn more about the career test

What is the workplace of a Sales Representative like?

The job of a sales representative can be highly variable. Many people are expected to travel, at least locally, and sometimes nationally or internationally.

Sales Representatives are also known as:
Outside Sales Representative Sales Rep Sales Agent