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Article: Sales


This article covers the following jobs:

  • Advertising Media Salesperson
  • Car Salesperson
  • Computer Technical Sales Manager
  • Export Sales Manager
  • Insurance Sales Adviser
  • Retail Sales Assistant
  • Sales Manager
  • Sales Representative
  • Telephone Salesperson.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.

Sales skills

A salesperson is anyone who is employed to sell things to members of the public or to businesses. Salespeople work in shops, offices and call centres, and some travel around to meet people in their homes or at their businesses.

Whatever type of selling is involved, salespeople usually specialise in one product/service or type of product/service. They develop an in-depth knowledge of this area.

For any sales role, you will need to be:

  • Confident, enthusiastic, friendly and outgoing.
  • Able to get on with all sorts of people.
  • Patient and resilient.
  • Well organised.
  • Capable of dealing with paperwork.

You will need:

  • Communication skills and interpersonal skills.
  • To speak clearly.
  • Number skills.
  • Some IT skills.

Some general sales roles

Retail Sales Assistant

Retail assistants serve customers in shops. They operate cash tills and take payment from customers for the goods they buy. They have to deal with cash and credit/debit cards.

Retail assistants check that goods are displayed properly on the shelves and are correctly priced. They also answer queries and advise customers on goods.

Some customers might need help to choose items, and the assistant might need to build up specialist knowledge of the goods on sale. In some shops, assistants might need to demonstrate the features of certain items.

Stock control and keeping records could be the responsibility of some retail assistants. They might also have to deal with telephone calls from customers or suppliers.

You might need some GCSEs at grade C or above, including Maths and English. Customer service is one of the main skills needed.

Sales Manager

Most companies, other than very small ones, have a sales force led by a sales manager.

Sales managers work with product managers and marketing and advertising executives to develop a sales strategy. They then divide potential customers into regions or types, and allocate different groups of customers to particular sales representatives (reps) or other sales staff.

They supervise the work of their sales staff by telephone calls, email and meetings, and by examining written sales figures. Some sales managers have their own list of customers to sell to, in addition to their management duties.

Sales managers are also responsible for producing reports for company managers to discuss, and for planning the company's strategy for attending trade fairs and exhibitions, for example.

Most people who become sales managers have a sales or marketing background, or come from other management posts. Some large companies offer entry to sales trainee schemes for graduates.

Sales Representative

Sales representatives (reps) sell goods or services to customers on behalf of manufacturers or wholesalers.

They travel around a particular area, visiting existing or possible new customers to make sales presentations, negotiate sales and discuss aftersales service. They must meet weekly or monthly sales targets that are agreed with their manager.

They could have to travel long distances to make visits, with short stays away from home. They usually need a full driving licence.

There are no standard academic entry requirements for sales representatives. For most employers, an extrovert and determined personality is just as important as formal academic qualifications.

However, where specialist knowledge is needed, for example, for selling engineering or medical products, entrants usually have a degree or HND in a relevant subject.

Telephone Salesperson

Telephone salespeople (telesales staff) use the phone to try to sell goods or services to individual people and businesses. They will have to make a certain number of calls each day, often after people have been sent leaflets or brochures.

Telesales staff sometimes make an appointment for a sales representative to visit a customer. They might have to record customer details on a computer database.

Some telesales staff also take orders from regular customers, especially in mail order companies.

Some employers prefer applicants to have some GCSEs at grade C or above, including English.

Some specialist sales roles

Advertising Media Salesperson

Advertising media salespeople work for national, regional and local newspapers, magazines, online/digital providers, outdoor poster companies and radio and television companies. They sell advertising space and airtime.

Jobs range from selling classified advertisements (ads) in free newspapers to higher-status and better-paid work selling display ads on popular social media sites or airtime during prime-time TV programmes.

Salespeople look for new customers, keep in touch with previous clients and negotiate the terms of contracts. They have to persuade advertisers that their particular medium reaches the target audience and is good value for money.

They work out what the advertiser will pay for the ad; this could be based on its size or length and where it will appear in the newspaper, magazine or website, where posters will be sited and for how long, or what time it will be on the television or radio.

The way into this job depends on the type of company you would be working for. Major online/digital providers, national newspapers and television companies usually recruit graduates.

Car Salesperson

Car salespeople sell new and used vehicles to members of the public and to businesses. They work for dealerships, and the cars they sell are displayed in showrooms or outside on forecourts.

A salesperson takes a customer out in a car and allows them to test drive it. They negotiate a deal, work out how much the customer's own car is worth in part-exchange and sometimes arrange a loan from a finance company.

There are no minimum qualifications needed to become a car salesperson, though some employers might ask for GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths. You usually need a full driving licence.

Computer Technical Sales Manager

Computer technical sales managers try to persuade business customers of the benefits of investing in new computer systems, or making improvements to their existing systems.

They have to understand the customer's organisation and needs, and identify computer systems to meet those needs. Then they need to demonstrate that their products represent the best solution for the customer.

They advise on how the installation and operation of new systems will improve the way an organisation and its employees work.

After a sale, technical sales managers keep in touch with customers to make sure that the system is working properly and to build a good relationship with each customer. They need a thorough knowledge of the technical capabilities and applications of the computer hardware and software they are selling.

They often recruit, train, manage and motivate a team of sales staff.

Direct entrants to technical sales are likely to need a degree or HND in a subject such as business information technology, or another technical subject.

Export Sales Manager

Export sales managers sell products or services to overseas customers. They research potential markets, conduct personal selling visits, organise sales promotions, appoint agents and distributors and negotiate sales contracts. Some might also arrange the transport of goods and the collection of payments.

You'll need good organisational and verbal communication skills and the ability to work to deadlines. Language skills and knowledge of economics, business and accounting are useful.

New entrants are often graduates with experience in business, sales, marketing or shipping.

Many companies offer in-house training for their staff. Increasingly, employers require potential managers to gain the Institute of Export's professional qualifications.

Insurance Sales Adviser

Insurance sales advisers sell insurance products such as motor, travel, home, life or accident insurance direct to the public. Insurance companies increasingly sell by phone from call centres.

The sales adviser discusses with the client what insurance cover they need, explains the terms and conditions of the policy and tries to sell it to the client.

It might be possible to enter with GCSEs, A levels (or equivalent), an HND or a degree.

People who sell certain types of insurance must pass at least a minimum qualification such as the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

Further Information

Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)

Address: 42-48 High Road, South Woodford, London E18 2JP

Tel: 020 8989 8464



Institute of Sales Management (ISM)

Address: Harrier Court, Lower Woodside, Bedfordshire LU1 4DQ

Tel: 01582 840001


A Career in Retail




Retail recruitment


People 1st

Address: 4th Floor, 93 Newman Street, London W1T 3EZ

Tel: 020 7462 5060



Institute of Export and International Trade

Address: Export House, Minerva Business Park, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE2 6FT

Tel: 01733 404400


Fashion Retail Academy

Address: 15 Gresse Street, London W1T 1QL

Tel: 020 7307 2345



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