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What Are the Duties of a Sales Representative?

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Sales representatives turn prospects into clients by sharing the benefits of their companies’ products and services. In addition to making sales presentations, the duties of a sales representative may include submitting orders, servicing existing accounts and conducting market research. Sales reps are employed in a variety of industries, ranging from manufacturing to healthcare to food service.

Job Description

Identifying prospects just may be the most important task in a sales representative job description. Before the representatives make phone calls or sends emails, they research businesses that might need their products and services and decide which of the company’s employees to contact.

If a company expresses interest, the sales representative schedules an introductory meeting. The first meeting may cover the benefits of the product or service, pricing and a discussion of the customer’s needs. If the company that the sales associate represents offers customizable products or services, the representative will develop a sales proposal and present it at a subsequent meeting.

The salesperson job description may require him to learn how to operate and demonstrate products or machinery. No matter what the product or service, becoming knowledgeable about its benefits and drawbacks is crucial. Representatives who are well versed in the intricacies of the products or services they offer and can answer questions authoritatively may be more likely to close sales.

Additional duties include contacting existing clients periodically to ensure that they’re happy with the services or products they’ve received. The conversations also offer the opportunity to persuade clients to buy new products or renew contracts.

Whether sales representatives are paid a salary, receive salary plus commission or work on a commission-only basis, they’re expected to meet weekly,monthly, quarterly and yearly sales goals and targets. Failure to meet goals can result in lower take-home pay and even job loss if the representative can’t improve sales numbers.

The sales representative job description may also include report writing, preparation of contracts, problem resolution and attendance at industry conferences and seminars.

Successful sales representatives have excellent communication skills and the ability to connect with clients at all levels in the organizational hierarchy. A positive outlook is crucial and can help representatives get through discouraging times when sales lag.

Education and Training

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for sales representatives in many fields. A graduate degree can be helpful for representatives who work in healthcare or technical fields. During the first few weeks on the job, new sales representatives will devote much of their time to learning about the products or services that the company offers. They may also accompany established sales representatives on a sales call or two before contacting prospective clients on their own.

Salary and Job Outlook

The salary for sales representatives varies depending on the industry. The media salary for sales representatives in wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products was $78, 830 as of May 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sales reps who specialize in highly technical areas may make even more. Pharmaceutical sales representatives make an average total yearly compensation of $133,563, according to MedReps 2018 Pharmaceutical Salary Report. BLS expects employment of wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives to grow by 5 percent by 2016. Projected growth for other types of sales representative positions isn’t provided.


Holly McGurgan has a degree in journalism and previously worked as a non-profit public relations and communications manager. She often writes about career and lifestyle topics. Her work has appeared online on Healthline, Working for Candy and other sites.

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