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Sales Representative: Career Information


Job Description - Sales Representative:

A sales representative may sell products on behalf of a manufacturer or wholesaler, working directly for that company. Alternatively, a sales representative may work for an independent sales agency whose clients are manufacturers and wholesalers. He or she demonstrates those products to customers, showing how the products will increase the customers' sales and decrease their costs.

Employment Facts - Sales Representative:

There were 433,000 sales representatives selling scientific and technical products in 2008. There were 1,540,000 sales representatives selling all other products.

Educational Requirements - Sales Representative:

Although this occupation doesn't have any formal educational requirements, many employers prefer to hire job candidates who have earned a bachelor's degree. This is particularly true for those selling technical and scientific products. Many people working in this occupation have majored in marketing.

Other Requirements - Sales Representative:

Successful sales representatives should be goal oriented, persuasive, have good communication and problems solving skills, and a pleasant personality and appearance. Some sales representatives working in wholesale and manufacturing obtain one of two certifications offered by the Manufacturers Representatives Education Research Foundation. To become a Certified Professional Manufacturers Representative (CPMR) or a Certified Sales Professional (CSP) one must typically complete formal training and pass a test.

Advancement Opportunities - Sales Representative:

A successful sales representative may be assigned to a larger territory or account, which gives him or her the opportunity to earn bigger commissions. An experienced sales representative who is employed by a manufacturer or wholesaler, rather than for a sales agency, may be promoted to sales supervisor, district manager, or vice president of sales.

Job Outlook - Sales Representative:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts only average job growth for sales representatives through 2018. Opportunities will be better for those who want to work for independent sales agencies since manufactures and wholesalers will increasingly outsource this function.

Earnings - Sales Representative:

Median annual earnings of sales representatives who sold scientific and technical products were $71,340 and median annual earning of sales representative who sold all other products were $50,920 in 2009.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a sales representative currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Sales Representative's Life:


On a typical day a sales representative's tasks may include:

  • Contacting new and existing customers to discuss their needs, and to explain how these needs could be met by specific products and services.
  • Answering customers' questions about products, prices, availability, product uses, and credit terms.
  • Quoting prices, credit terms and other bid specifications.
  • Emphasizing product features based on analyses of customers' needs, and on technical knowledge of product capabilities and limitations.
  • Negotiating prices and terms of sales and service agreements.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Sales Representative, Wholesale And Manufacturing, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos119.htm (visited December 7, 2010).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Sales Representative, Wholesale And Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products, on the Internet at <http: online.onetcenter.org="" link="" details="" 41-4011.00"="">http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/41-4011.00 and Sales Representative, Wholesale And Manufacturing, Except Technical and Scientific Products, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/41-4012.00 (visited December 7, 2010).

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