How to Become a Sales Representative

How to Become a Sales Representative: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a sales representative, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a sales representative:


Those who become sales representatives are outgoing, self-confident and self-motivated. They typically enjoy getting out of the office and interacting with people.


Sales representatives are typically quite keen on being rewarded fairly for their time, efforts and results. Since sales representatives often work on commission, they must be able to persevere and stay positive during periods of low sales, and they must be willing to face rejection.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a sales representative. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Educational Requirements to Become a Sales Representative

Although educational requirements to become a sales representative vary from employer to employer, and job to job, there are not typically any formal educational requirements to get a job in this field. There are notable exceptions however, as organizations that sell technical and scientific products and services typically prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the product or service they are selling. 




Sales Representative Job Description

Sales representatives are responsible for selling products on behalf of manufacturers of wholesalers either as an employee of that company, or as an employee of a sales agency whose clients are manufacturers and wholesalers.


Sales Representatives sell the goods and services of the organization they represent to individuals as well as retail, commercial, industrial, and professional clients.



Sales Representative Job Duties

• Communicate with clients on a regular basis via e-mail, telephone or in person

• Determine the needs of the client and emphasize how the product or service can meet those needs

• Source new business using a variety of methods, such as cold calling and attending trade shows

• Follow up on leads

• Prepare sales projection figures for the coming year

• Quote prices, terms of sale, warranties and delivery dates

• Prepare sales proposals and presentations



Skills and Attributes Needed to Become a Sales Representative

In order to become a successful sales representative, and not just one that is mediocre, you need to posses a certain set of skills and personal attributes, including:


• Must exude confidence, as clients perceive this as a confidence in the product or service they are being sold

• Able to handle rejection, as there will be periods of time where they have a hard time selling

• Have thorough knowledge of the market they serve, as well as the products or service they are selling

• Be highly organized, as they may have to look after many client accounts during their workweek

• Listen to the needs of clients and customers, and be able to communicate how their product or service will fulfill them

• Comfortable dealing with individuals from all different walks of life



Sales Representative Salary: How Much Do They Make?

The salary level of sales representatives can vary greatly depending on factors such as whether or not they earn commission, their job performance, the product or service they are selling, whether or not they receive bonuses, their level of experience and many others.


Sales Representative Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Sales Representatives - Wholesale Trade (Non-Technical) occupational group earn an average wage from $21.97 to $44.91 per hour. The mean wage for this group is $30.96 per hour. The survey also states that Albertans in the Technical Sales Specialists - Wholesale Trade occupational group earn an average of between $23.82 and $43.34 per hour. The mean wage for this group is $32.38 per hour.


Sales Representative Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average income form workers in the Sales Representatives - Wholesale Trade (Non-Technical) occupational group is $51,439 per year. Workers in the Technical Sales Specialists - Wholesale Trade occupational group earn an average salary of $63,382 per year.


Sales Representative Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans in the occupational group Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing is $56,620 per year. The median annual salary for workers in the Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products occupational group is $73,710 per year.





Who Hires Sales Representatives? Where Do They Work?

There are many organizations, across many industries that are interested in utilizing the skills, knowledge and competencies of sales representatives to help increase their revenue. These organizations include:


• Food and beverage producers

• Entertainment industry organizations, such as record companies and video game producers

• Manufacturing companies

• Hotels and resorts

• Energy producers

• Athletic and fitness facilities

• Business services firms

• Transportation companies

• Media and advertising companies


Some organizations may hire sales representatives that have a technical or scientific background, in order to sell products of that nature on their behalf. These organizations include:


• Technical and industrial equipment manufacturers and resellers

• Computer software firms

• Engineering and technology service firms

• Pharmaceutical companies

• Communications companies



Career Advancement for Sales Representatives

Sales representatives that are successful in their work activities, and display excellent skills, knowledge and competencies in their field have a variety of advancement opportunities available to them. These advancement opportunities may take the form of transfers to larger sales territories, or territories with greater sales opportunities, greater annual expenditures, or a greater salary or commission share.


Sales representatives that are employed by manufacturers or wholesalers may be promoted to sales supervisor, district manager, or vice-president of sales. They may also move into marketing, or become agents for independent manufacturers who sell the products of more than one manufacturer.



Careers Similar to Sales Representative

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Sales Representative, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


District Sales Manager


Financial Advisor

Insurance Agent


Retail Sales Associate



References: How to Become a Sales Representative

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a sales representative.



Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Sales Representative (Wholesale, Nontechnical).” (August 1, 2010.). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Technical Sales Representative.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 13, 2020.

Sales:Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 13, 2020.


Please Note: Some of the information for this career guide was gathered from actual job postings, which due to the brief nature of their online presence, are not listed here as sources.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Sales Representative

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Sales Representative can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Sales Representative: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a sales representative, as they will provide you with many relevant knowledge and skills. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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