While excellent products and services are keys to success in a business, they will never bring profit to a business if customers never have an opportunity to buy them. Businesses need excellent sales staff in order to turn potential customers into actual customers. These skilled sales representatives work together in teams to sell products and services to consumers.
The sales staff is responsible for finding potential customers and persuading these customers to purchase a company’s goods and services. How this is accomplished varies. While some companies prefer to hire individual sales representatives, other companies hire whole sales teams that work together to come up with the most effective ways to bring products to market.
Good sales staff teams are able to perform market research and determine what customers are looking for or might look for in the future. Getting customer feedback through customer surveys and comments is one way of performing market research. Other sources of market research include the Census Bureau, chambers of commerce, and trade and professional organizations. A sales staff must then be able to communicate to customers about how the company’s products and services will solve problems or bring pleasure to the customer. Sales staff must be able to answer customer questions and also be able to seamlessly direct customers to locations where the products can be purchased.
Members of the sales staff should be hired based on skills that they bring to the sales team. Businesses need to know whether the team will need a staff with more presentation skills, writing skills or Internet marketing skills and whether or not the sales staff needs experience marketing to a general consumer or to top executives at a wealthy company. They will also need to be able to project the image that the business wants its company to have. Those hiring the sales staff should map out the skills needed not only so they can find employees to cover each of these needs but also so that they can justify hiring decisions in court. Of course, other skills needed include previous sales experience, with marketing and advertising degrees being a plus.
Some sales staff travel extensively, while other sales staff rarely leave the office. While sales staff often get to choose their own hours, they must usually work 40 or 50 hours a week in order to meet sales goals. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 2 million sales representatives were employed in 2008. The agency projects that the need for sales representatives will grow by 7 percent between 2008 and 2018.
The income that the sales staff earns is often dependent on how much they are able to sell. In 2008, the average earnings for sales representatives was $70,200, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2016 Salary Information for Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned a median annual salary of $61,270 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned a 25th percentile salary of $42,360, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $89,010, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,813,500 people were employed in the U.S. as wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives.