Sales & Marketing

By ACS Distance Education on January 29, 2019 in Careers, Education & Jobs Success | comments
A sales professional works to increase sales. It is important to understand that selling is only one part of the marketing process. Sales work may deal directly with customers person-to-person or business-to-business; or may manage people and systems that deliver sales to a business.

Scope of Work

Sales people cover a wide variety of jobs. There's the day-to-day action of selling, but there's also a lot of following up potential sales and qualifying or converting leads. Many sales people also deal with inventory and reports, stock shelves (retail), handle general upkeep and cleaning (retail), and create some promotional materials. In smaller set ups, one or two sales people may also help out with marketing and promotions.

  • Sales work involves primarily communicating (verbally and non verbally) with people to:
  • Explain or demonstrate a product or service
  • Answer questions about the product
  • Present purchasing options
  • Explain the process and terms of purchase
  • Lead a customer through the process of understanding the product, to completing a sales transaction
  • This communication may be conducted in person or remotely (eg. on the phone or internet)

What You Need to Learn

  • Marketing Foundations - understanding the marketing mix, how to use consumer interest to drive sales, how to work with promotions
  • Consumer Psychology - why consumers purchase, the rational and emotional decision-making processes behind purchasing
  • Sales skills - how to identify customer needs and offer appropriate products or services based on these, and any other relevant environmental factors
  • Marketing Law and Ethics - general understanding of relevant laws (e.g contract law) and ethics regarding development and use. Knowledge of when, where, and how to seek further information.
  • Communication Skills - verbal and non-verbal, strong written communication and negotiation skills
  • Business Operations - general awareness of how the business works, its main purpose, the cost of supply and profit margins, inventory, purchasing
  • Product knowledge - overall understanding of the sector, the types of products sold, points of difference, quality, and awareness of competition
  • People skills - how to engage and interact with people, how to make them comfortable and establish rapport and trust in the sales relationship
  • Administrative skills - keeping relevant paperwork, tracking orders, interacting with the computer systems, producing individual sales reports

Starting a Career

There are many ways to get started in sales as a career. Entry-level jobs are available across many sectors, and many of these have room for advancement.

Opportunities for starting out include:

  • Cashier/checkout operator - working a checkout will help you develop cash handling and people skills
  • Sales or retail sales assistant - entry-level sales, especially in retail, will give you experience with a variety of store operations, from inventory and stocking to handling customer complaints
  • Volunteering as a fundraiser for a non-profit - this will help you develop people skills and pick up the basics of cold calling and cold sales. It's a useful testing ground for consumer psychology work.

Working in sales requires patience, fortitude, and people skills. Spend time furthering your learning with books and courses -- research consumer psychology. Ensure you network and look for ways to take on further responsibility. If you're working as a cashier, be available for extra shifts for experience, and talk to your supervisor about ways to advance. If you're in retail, spend time observing what your manager does and how. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Progressing a Career

There are many ways to progress a career in sales, especially if you invest time in furthering your learning and cultivating networks. Opportunities include:

  • Head of Sales - heading up the sales department of a company, responsible for looking into new sales directions, developing a stronger client base, and improving closings
  • Sales consultant - many companies hire on specialist consultants or trainers to help sales staff improve or develop new skills
  • Marketing consultant - sales people can transition into marketing, especially if they're interested in promotional development. Having experience in sales is helpful in understanding how to effectively develop marketing programs that work with the existing sales procedures and funnel.
  • Business coach - helping start ups and new entrepreneurs, or consulting with existing businesses.

It's also vital you further your learning. Attend trade shows, look for mentorships, and attend industry events and conferences.