A route sales driver might find him or herself chatting with clients in a rural mom-and-pop market, a bustling warehouse or an ultra-modern supermarket -- anywhere but behind a desk. It takes an independent spirit to spend hours behind the wheel alone. But if you’re persuasive and motivated, you can enter this career right out of high school with minimal training.
Are You Sold?
First and foremost, you need the vision and motor skills necessary to drive a large truck. You need to be in good physical health so your back doesn’t get stiff sitting behind the wheel for hours and so you can move large containers of products from the truck and roll them on a dolly into a store. The job takes patience to sit in traffic or wind your way to remote delivery points, and the workweek is often more than 40 hours. Since you want to increase your sales, you must be well-spoken and persuasive at making a pitch.
You’ll make stops along your sales route, unloading your product at each destination, noting the level of inventory and whether you need to order more. As clients make payment, you’ll make changes for them, record the transaction and hand over an invoice or receipt. If you’re delivering chips or soda to a supermarket, you might have to set up a promotional display, for example. It’s your job to keep your truck and your products neat and clean. If products are defective or substandard, you need the wherewithal to notice so you don’t distribute them.
But your job is more than just hauling goods. You also need to work with clients to resolve any complaints over the quantity or quality of your goods. Developing a longstanding relationship with a client can pay dividends, so you should treat each one with respect and courtesy. You’ll introduce your clients to new product lines or price changes and attempt to increase your sales at each stop. New clients must be put at ease and be confident that they can rely on you. Along your route you try to pick up new business by calling or visiting potential new clients. You'll benefit financially from increased sales, as part of your pay is based on commissions.
Route to Success
You’ll need a driver’s license, most likely a commercial one, to enter this field. Most route salespeople have a high school diploma and they can learn what they need after a month or so on the job. The median salary for a route salesperson in 2012 was $27,530 a year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salespeople can increase their credibility with clients and network with other professionals by seeking certification through the National Association of Sales Professionals. Hard work can help you become a sales manager in charge of routes or even an executive with your company.