|Number of Jobs:||223,400|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Business Jobs||#15|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#69|
Also called manufacturers' representatives or manufacturers' agents, sales representatives sell goods and services to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations rather than directly to consumers. Manufacturers and wholesalers, in particular, rely heavily on sales reps to market merchandise, which might be anything from laboratory equipment to soft drinks. Two traits critical to succeeding as a sales rep: an enthusiastic personality and a tolerance for travel. Sales reps are expected to attend trade shows and conferences to keep abreast of evolving products and changing customer needs. They might also be responsible for administrative duties like analyzing sales statistics or filing expense accounts.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15.6 percent employment growth for sales representatives between 2010 and 2020. An additional 223,400 jobs will need to be filled within that time period. Because of its promising outlook, the sales representative profession has claimed the No. 69 spot on the Best Jobs of 2013 list.
According to the Labor Department, the median annual salary for a sales representative was $53,540 in 2011. The best-paid 10 percent made roughly $110,680, while the lowest-paid earned approximately $27,250. The field’s most highly compensated professionals usually work for companies specializing in scientific research and development, satellite telecommunications, or securities and commodity contracts. Top-paying metropolitan areas for this occupation include Boston and Leominster, Mass., and Bridgeport, Conn.
There are no formal education requirements for sales representative positions; however, many employers appreciate some postsecondary education, and positions involving scientific and technical products will most likely require a bachelor's degree. But many jobs can be obtained with just a high school diploma or its equivalent, although prior sales experience would be advantageous. To stand out against the rest of the applicant pool, many aspiring sales representatives attend seminars in sales techniques or take courses in marketing, economics, communication, or even a foreign language. There are also several certifications—such as the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) certificate—that can give representatives a leg-up in the industry. As far as training goes, most companies require beginning sales representatives to attend formal training programs that can last up to two years. During these programs, trainees are often rotated through different offices and production plants to learn about all the phases that go into manufacturing and distributing a product.
According to Ray Wright, executive director of the professional sales representative organization IPRO, having experience with the product and the product culture is a key factor in this industry. Perhaps more important, a great sales representative must be able to relate to customers. "Empathy and orientation towards customer service are critical traits," says Wright. "You need to get a certain amount of joy out of meeting customer needs." One of the most important characteristics of a good sales representative is the ability to listen. "We all have the wonderful ability to talk, but having the ability to listen [will allow you] to understand the customer needs over the sales needs." Wright also emphasizes the importance of building non-standard business relationships with customers, since sales representatives often interact with the same clients on a regular basis. "You need to understand relationship selling," he says. "You need to be a resource by respecting customers and developing friendships."
|Stress Level||Above Average|