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What Does a Commercial Sales Representative Do?

K. Kinsella
K. Kinsella

A commercial sales representative sells goods and services on behalf of a for-profit enterprise. Unlike other sales employees, people involved in commercial sales only make business-to-business sales as opposed to business-to-consumer transactions. People employed in these roles are often referred to as wholesalers or manufacturer's agents.

Most employers require an applicant for a commercial sales representative job to have graduated from college with a degree in a topic such as business administration or marketing. Some major firms prefer to hire representatives who have completed master’s degree programs in one of these subject areas. Aside from academic credentials, these roles are usually reserved for people who have spent many years working in marketing or sales and many firms actively headhunt successful consumer sales representatives from rival firms to fill these positions.

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

When a new product or service is about to be launched, a commercial sales representative contacts other businesses and attempts to negotiate deals for those firms to acquire the item or service. People employed in these roles spend much of their time on the road visiting clients and giving product demonstrations. In some instances, the commercial sales representative meets with the procurement manager who acquires goods for a firm while in other instances, representatives meet with the sales employee's of client firms and attempt to show these individuals how to market the new product.

Like any sales person, a commercial representative is tasked with generating income through sales revenue and most companies expect people in these roles to meet or exceed quarterly and annual goals. If the goal is unit-based, then the representative may negotiate lower prices so as to increase sales whereas if the goal is revenue based the representative may include more units in each purchase order so as entice clients to buy more products. Typically, people in these roles have some flexibility to adjust pricing although senior managers often have to approve major discounts. Additionally, some firms allow representatives to give free samples to prospects and clients and many successful individuals use these samples as a marketing tool.

Most manufacturers have to compete with other firms that produce similar types of products. To generate sales at the expense of competitors, sales representatives often encourage clients to enter into exclusivity deals. If a distribution firm only operates within a small geographic area then a business may have to negotiate supply deals with a large number of companies to ensure that the products and services will reach the entire target market. Aside from making sales, people employed in these roles also handle customer service issues for existing clients and provide feedback to senior management about competitor's activities and the needs of clients.

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