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Career Advice

How to become a Sales Executive

Sales ExecutiveSales Executives are everywhere! In fact, most organisations, whether they offer a service or a product, employ sales executives.

It makes sense really. There’s no point having a business without having someone who is responsible for telling the consumer or business why they should part with their hard earned cash and buy what is on offer.

Sales Executives or Field Sales Reps or Business Development Executives (or various other similar titles) are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with a business’s client base. The way that they do this can vary, from face to face and telephone sales through to arranging meetings with head offices to develop longer term and contracted relationships.

It is a very targeted and often high pressured work environment – you either sink or swim. Performance related sales and pay means that it is possible to earn a good wage and potentially uncapped bonus, or if you aren’t hitting your predefined targets, you could be ‘performance managed’ out of the business and effectively out on your ear within 6 months.

Qualifications (UK)
Expected qualifications for a Sales Executive role vary depending on the company that is recruiting. Some will expect applicants to hold a degree level qualification, in a business related or industry specific subject, whilst others just a degree and the subject is secondary. Other companies may not even base their shortlisting criteria on qualifications at all. Some will offer graduate training roles and others will expect you to have plenty of proven targeted sales experience, and measure this as the main element when shortlisting applications. In fact, irrespective of the qualification criteria, applicants will more often or not, need to have practical work experience in a targeted sales environment.

Experience
As highlighted above – previous targeted sales experience is generally key to any application, regardless of education and qualifications. If then you are starting at the bottom with no experience, how could you gain the valuable skills and experience that will aid any future applications? Well, experience working in an outbound call centre (telesales / telemarketing), or a targeted retail environment where you are expected to upsell and sell additional services (insurance, credit cards, store cards etc) can be really advantageous. Also gaining a front office / customer service role working in a bank or insurance organisation, will inevitably lead you to have some experience of working to targets and upselling services. Whilst this experience doesn’t automatically mean you have the skills to be a good sales executive – at least it will give you some solid experience and an understanding of the environment that a sales executive may face.

Type of Person
The ability to sell is key. It is often said that sales people need to have ‘the gift of the gab’ – and this is true. If you have a good personable character, good communication skills and confidence in your own ability, these skills will all lead you to being able to make a good and lasting impression when selling to the general public or business to business. A knack for remembering and recording information and good IT and administration skills are also key. With international markets more important than ever to many businesses – having fluency in a second language can be really advantageous. In most cases it is also expected for sales executives to have full driving licences – after all they are going to need to get out and meet with potential customers and clients and get those sales!

Still fancy a career as Sales Executive? Good luck! We hope these basic tips help you along the way…

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