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4 important qualities of a sales representative

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 22 July 2019

Australia’s sales representative industry is currently a massive one, consisting of over 95,000 workers as of 2018. Prospects are looking up for anyone aspiring to this role, with SEEK statistics stating a positive job growth increase in the years to 2023. This increase is estimated to consist of approximately 80,000 job openings – about 16,000 a year.  

But what exactly does this job role entail, and could this be an appropriate career path for you?

Sales Representative – Job description and responsibilities

male sales representative taking a call

Sales representatives are tasked with actively selling one’s product or service to other businesses or individual consumers. 

As representatives of their brand, they’re expected to have a thorough knowledge of their business and the goods they sell, promoting this information to clients in the best light possible. Much of their work may be done outside of the office environment, meeting with prospective clients or attending sales events – making this an ideal job role for anyone preferring to work on their feet and on the go. 

Other duties can include monitoring competitor activity, providing follow-up “after-sales care”, and administrative tasks such as preparing sales reports and arranging product deliveries. 

Sales Representative – Education pathways

Pursuing a career in the sales representative industry generally requires no formal education; though according to Job Outlook, a relevant qualification or two may prove useful when seeking employment.

This may be especially applicable when opting for more specialised areas, such as the pharmaceutical or automotive industry. 

Training organisations like Upskilled offer valuable courses in or the aspiring salesperson, such as their BSB40615 - Certificate IV in Business Sales. Undertaking this extra training can equip you with skills in networking, sales planning, and customer service, preparing you for a strong career as a sales representative. 

What are the 4 most important qualities of a business sales representative? 

persistence concept

  1. Being a “people” person.
  2. Excellent marketing abilities.
  3. Persistence, and lots of it.
  4. Being self-motivated and willing to learn.

1. Being a “people” person.

As a salesperson, much of your time is spent liaising with clients and potential buyers; along with other company staff (such as sales consultants or their marketing department) to discuss selling techniques and evolving consumer needs

The ability to work well with people is thus a crucial skill in the role of a sales representative. Being friendly, personable, and at the same time, professional – will take you far in this industry, helping you build new business connections and rapport with potential customers. Prospects are far more likely to respond to salespeople who appear warm and charismatic, than to those who simply cold-sell and remain aloof. According to Hubspot statistics, 60% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson when they first start learning about a product. 

In the same vein, it’s therefore vital to possess top-notch communication skills

Not only will you be talking up your product, you’ll also be asking plenty of qualifying questions to further understand your prospect and their specific needs. You must then display active listening, ensuring your customer is heard in return. Empathy can also go a long way in helping your buyer feel valued and showing you care; that you’re not just there to make a sale – you’re providing a solution to a problem.

2. Excellent marketing abilities.

Along with confident people skills, the best salespeople will know how to market their product well. 

This requires you to have a thorough knowledge of what you’re selling, and not just the key features or benefits either; it may be handy to also have testimonials, demo trials, and pre-prepared answers to possible customer questions. Doing a bit of background research on your client can help you address any current challenges they may have, and how your product can tend to their needs. 

Being the ultimate expert on your product can largely enhance your ability to endorse it – allowing you to not only zero in on its perks, but turn any customer inquiries into further reasons to make a purchase.

However, business sales representatives must also know how to market themselves. Give clients a reason to value your words by demonstrating your expertise and industry credibility – without seeming cocky or arrogant. 

3. Persistence, and lots of it.

On a good day, prospects will take kindly to your efforts and grant you a few winning sales. On others, you may have trouble catching a break, with the word “no” constantly thrown your way. These hurdles can’t keep you down forever; in this career, one must develop thick skin and the ability to quickly bounce back from such setbacks. 

Dan Kraus of the U.S. based marketing agency, Leading Results, explains that rejection is a constant in the daily life of a sales rep. Those who wish to find success in this field must learn to never take it personally. As he states, “…if you can’t de-personalize the rejection, you’ll have a short sales career.”

Persistence is also key when following up on your leads. According to Hubspot, almost half of all sales representatives abandon a prospect after following up once. Learn to re-connect with potential customers to further inspect their interest, while ensuring their needs are your top priority. If done respectfully, they may just appreciate your support, turning them from a prospect into a buyer. 

4. Being self-motivated and willing to learn.

Finally, a successful sales representative will endlessly work to improve their skills, displaying an unending desire to continuously learn. Working your way up the ladder means constantly educating yourself, which could include attending seminars, reading books, or watching informative online videos on the regular. By putting yourself out there and taking risks, you’ll discover your strengths and weaknesses – and identify areas for growth. This self-drive will surely be appreciated by your higher-ups and demonstrate your independence.

In fact, it may just be your ticket to a promotion. In an article by Peak Sales Recruiting that surveys 20 sales experts, plenty mention initiative, a go-getter attitude, and an endless hunger for knowledge as some of their most sought-after traits when hiring for a senior, leadership position. If you’re always working to achieve your best – and know how to lift your peers up along with you – you may very well advance from a sales rep to a well-respected sales manager in your firm.

Australian statistics currently show abundant opportunity for career progression in this field, with 64.58% of workers stating this as their primary reason for staying in their role, according to a report by Michael Page. By displaying these key qualities in a leader, you might just achieve that progression you’re after. 

Think you’ll make a good business sales representative? 

Each of the traits discussed above will not only advance your career in sales, they’re also applicable to everyday life and any job in the general workforce.

Those who haven’t mastered these traits may learn them through on-the-job training, though a formal qualification is recommended for improving your employment prospects. As mentioned, Upskilled provides a wide range of courses in business, sales, and marketing – along with other industries to suit your professional needs. 

Enquire today, and take your first step towards a fulfilling sales career.
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