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Product Sales Representatives

Product sales representatives have an important role within companies. Their objective is to make customers interested in their company's goods or services and make sales. Sales representatives demonstrate the use of the their products and explain to clients and prospective clients how the merchandise can increase their revenue or lower their costs.

Product sales representatives answer customers' questions and resolve problems. Sales representatives that sell consumer goods sometimes provide suggestions regarding how and where the products should be displayed. They may help retailers create promotional programs, advertising and store displays.

Inside sales representatives spend a lot of time on the telephone selling products and taking orders. They also resolve problems or complaints regarding products. Typically, "cold calling" prospective clients is part of the occupation. Some inside sales representatives arrange meetings for outside sales agents.

Outside sales representatives spend a lot of their time traveling and meeting with current and potential clients. They convey to the client how their products can meet their needs and how their products can increase productivity. Outside sales representatives may sell products made by several different manufactures. They may also help install equipment and provide training for the equipment.

Manufacturers' representatives, also known as manufacturers' agents usually work for manufactures, technical firms or wholesalers. Some manufacturers' representatives work for one company, whereas others represent several companies and sell a range of merchandise. They deal directly with businesses, government agencies and other types of organizations. A number of sales agents specialize in selling technical and scientific products such as mechanical equipment and computers.

Common job titles include account executive, account representative and sales associate.

Responsibilities

  • Monitor market conditions, competitors' products and product innovations
  • Provide prices and information about credit, warranties, contract terms and delivery dates to customers
  • Demonstrate products and explain their features to customers and prospective customers
  • Forward orders to manufacturer
  • Arrange for delivery and installation of products and equipment
  • Identify potential customers
  • Answer clients' questions about products or services
  • Prepare estimates and bids
  • Negotiate details of contracts and payments
  • Provide ongoing support to clients

Job Characteristics

Product sales representatives often travel to meet with clients and prospective clients. They often attend trade shows to stay current with the newest products. Some sales representatives have large sales regions and may be away from home for several days or weeks at a time.

They work 40 hours a week, however many product sales representatives work over 50 hours a week. Sales representatives often have irregular work hours. In addition, many salespersons make their own schedules.

Sales representatives sometimes have to deal with pressure since typically their income and job security depend on the amount of products they sell. Companies usually establish sales quotas or goals which salespersons are expected to meet.

Sales representatives should be persuasive and goal oriented. A pleasant personality and good communications skills are beneficial for the occupation. Patients and perseverance are also important aspects of the job.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a seven percent employment growth for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives during the 2008 to 2018 timeframe which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth is projected to be greatest in independent sales firms since manufacturers continue to outsource sales activities to independent sales agents, primarily to lower costs.

In 2008 the median annual earnings, including commissions, of wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products sales representatives was $70,200. The median annual earnings, including commissions, for sales representatives of wholesale and manufacturing, except technical and scientific products, in 2008 was $51,330.

Compensation methods for sales representatives vary by the type of company and the products sold. Most employers provide a combination of salary and commissions or a salary and bonuses.

Promotions often take the form of being assigned to a large account or a larger sales territory. Those that demonstrate leadership ability and have a good sales record may become a sales supervisor, a district manager or a vice president of sales.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Generally, there are no formal education requirements for product sales representative positions, however many sales positions require some postsecondary education. Sales representatives that sell scientific and technical products often are required to have a bachelors's degree. For those with a high school degree, previous sales experience is helpful.

Many product sales representatives attend seminars that provide sales techniques or take classes in subjects such as economics, marketing and communication. Many companies provide formal training programs for beginning sales representatives that last up to two years, however most companies have much shorter training periods for salespersons.

Sales representatives can acquire certification that provides formal recognition of their sales skills. Many sales representatives have obtained a Certified Professional Manufacturers' Representative certification or the Certified Sales Professional certification. Certification usually requires formal training and passing an examination.

Resources

Major Employers

The primary employers are wholesale companies, technical and scientific product companies, retail companies, manufacturing firms, computer systems design and related services; wholesale electronic markets and agents and brokers; and machinery equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers.

Schools for Product Sales Representatives are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Product Sales Representatives

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Product Sales Representatives jobs , as of 2016

     
Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 63,270 $64,020
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 41,890 $82,260
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 40,920 $65,910
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 38,180 $58,630
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 33,300 $75,480
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 26,160 $74,100
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue 23,600 $71,140
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood 20,760 $71,400
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 17,710 $62,450
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 16,570 $71,120

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to product sales representatives

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Product Sales Representatives

To find out more about building a career as Product Sales Representatives, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Product Sales Representatives

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Durable Goods Wholesale 433,470 29% $49,300
Non-durable Goods Wholesale 287,210 19% $48,190
Online Wholesale 243,380 16% $57,100
Construction Trades 39,210 2% $53,250
Office Services And Staffing 38,290 2% $46,570
Metal Products 30,830 2% $57,010
Professional And Technical Services 30,460 2% $58,460
Hardware And Garden Stores 25,910 1% $45,850
Business Management 24,720 1% $57,180
Printing 23,690 1% $55,120
Machinery 20,450 1% $57,590
Food 17,580 1% $53,710
Miscellaneous Manufacturing 15,080 1% $53,050
Traditional Publishing 14,990 1% $55,880
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