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How Do I Become a Sales Rep?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

If you want to become a sales rep, you may or may not need any prior training or formal education beyond Grade 12. Both the education and experience required for the job tends to vary greatly depending on the industry as well as each individual company. The general skills sales representatives, or reps, absolutely must have is an outgoing, sociable nature and the ability to form successful working relationships with others. Taking the initiative to ask for the order, making convincing product suggestions to customers, negotiating prices and providing excellent follow-up client care are crucial selling steps you should be prepared to take if you hope to become a sales rep. Beginning in retail or door-to-door selling may be a good way to advance to entry-level inside sales positions with a future possibility of becoming an outside rep, if that's desired.

Sales reps in entry-level jobs may not be expected to stick to strict quotas, but this usually changes with the more experience a representative has. Moving up in the field is typically not possible unless sales performance is high, as promotions tend to go to the top salespeople in a team. Possessing an outgoing, communicative attitude is not only important toward customers, but also other team members of a sales force. Hiring managers often look for candidates who are good leaders, are highly motivated and have an ability to learn product information quickly.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

To impress most hiring managers for sales positions, let them know that you understand the difference between selling and customer service and do both. Even if you become a sales rep in the lowest position possible in the company, if you show you have what it takes to impress clients and sell products to them, you're likely to move up quite fast. Of course, this will depend on other factors such as the size of the company, its growth position and the stability of the economy at the time.

Any selling experience such as working in a retail store or canvassing for newspaper subscriptions can help you develop skills to eventually become a sales rep. It's crucial to study the industry and customers in which you are applying for a sales representative job. The more knowledgeable and personable you are about what you are selling, the easier it typically is to convince customers of the value of your products. Be sure though that when you do make a sale that you keep a working relationship with that customer.

Growing your list of industry contacts and keeping positive relationships is essential in sales. You don't know who you may end up working with or for during your career if you become a sales rep. If you hope to eventually travel to meet with customers regularly to demonstrate and sell new products as an outside representative, you still may need to have a few years of experience as a sales rep inside an office or warehouse first.

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