A Comprehensive Guide About Jobs in Sales

01st Jun 2022

Sales Jobs: A comprehensive career guide 


Working in sales to promote products or services and generate business requires adept listening and organisational skills. Salespeople can operate individually, or work with other salespersons as part of a larger team, or an entire sales department. 


Selling products and services requires a systematic coordination of customer communication to track and monitor different points of the sales funnel. Working in sales can mean meeting customers face to face, talking over the phone, and utilising technological communication tools like email or video calling. 


The nature of communication and the frequency of customer content can vary by the kind of product being sold and the length of the sales cycle. Excellent levels of written and oral communication, organisational, and presentation skills will be essential. Sales employees will need to be capable of multi-tasking, managing different relationships, and be able to work well under pressure. 


Specialised product knowledge or industry-specific experience may be required to sell to higher or C level executives, and depending on the item being sold, contact may be primarily with B2C or B2B customers. Sales processes can take place at different organisational levels with smaller or less capital-intense products being handled by department leaders or managers, and budget-impacting expensive sales reaching high into the top levels of the company hierarchy. 


Anyone working in sales can expect to experience highly varied working environments that are target-driven, challenging, and intense. Some sales careers involve long hours away from home, and telesales can mean working regular office hours or split shifts. However, the big attraction of sales, apart from it being high energy and fast paced, is that earnings can be boosted to almost uncapped levels by commissions or bonuses. 


What type of skills are needed for a sales career?


The role requires someone who can efficiently multi-task and handle a wide range of responsibilities along with being accommodating and personable enough to interact with team members, management personnel, and customers. Operating as a sales person will require expert communication and marketing skills. Salespeople must be able to demonstrate the ability to liaise with everyone from senior managers or executives, all the way down to admin and support staff. 

A reasonable familiarity with technology and software packages will be useful, and tools are commonly used to plan calls or sales meetings, track appointments, and schedule follow up calls. Sales staff should be familiar with the typical office software packages to handle things like emails and calendar updates, but they should also posses knowledge of CRM systems for client management. Software services like Salesforce or other lead and sales management packages are frequently used to track all stages of the sales cycle from lead through to close. 

Along with the technical expertise that is needed, salespeople will need to have excellent presentation skills to discuss and share information with potential clients. This could involve a physical demonstration of a product to buyers, or be used to present in-depth data to demonstrate the projected improvements and gains that a buyer can expect after purchasing their service. 

Verbal communication skills and the ability to deal with different personalities, manage a high volume of phone calls, and interacting appropriately with sales calls, complaints, and questions will be necessary. Sales people may be the initial point of contact for a company, handling customer inquiries and making cold calls. With such a frequent interaction between the sales person and company representatives or even members of the public, tolerance for rejection needs to be high. Sales people will need to be persistent and persuasive, intelligent enough to overcome objections, and tenacious enough to chase leads and calls. 

Hiring managers who wish to recruit efficient sales people will be on the lookout for the following experience and qualities. 

  • Exemplary communication skills - to clearly explain what is being sold but also to listen to clients' need.
  • Efficient time management - working on deadlines, managing call volume and scheduling meetings and appointments.
  • Expert presentation skills - demonstrating the qualities and benefits of a product or service 
  • Persistence, confidence, and resilience - sales people will need to be dogged enough to continue after hearing ‘no’ 
  • Personable, and collaborative - sales people will need to quickly establish rapport and make relationships.
  • Target focused and determined - meeting targets and growing the business year after year requires drive and aptitude.
  • Autonomous working - whether part of a team or working independently, sales people must be capable of managing their own work day.

Job titles and description

As sales people can be required at many different levels of the organisation there is a broad variety of titles associated with the role. Title encompassing everything from junior sales who spend their time cold calling to top-level sales directors who are key decision makers may be seen at larger companies. These job roles may be further divided depending on whether the position handles internal or external sales, manages accounts, or are focused on business development.  


Many jobs are available in the sales sector and job titles can include positions such as:

  • Sales Development Representative
  • Account Executive 
  • Outside Salesperson
  • Inside Salesperson
  • Account Manager
  • Regional Sales Manager
  • Sales Operations Manager
  • Sales Engineer
  • Director of Sales
  • VP of Sales
  • Chief Sales Officer


Typically, sales jobs will fall in to 1 of 6  areas no matter what the industry, these are:

  • Inside sales.
  • Outside sales.
  • B2B or B2C.
  • Prospecting or sales development reps.
  • Account management.
  • Account Executive.


Sales positions can follow an almost military style hierarchy, as there is so much opportunity in sales, businesses frequently require a structuring of the sales team to delegate tasks and responsibilities effectively. Job roles are available in entry-level, mid-level, and senior roles depending on experience and and duties. It is not uncommon to see sales titles and roles evolve as they rise through higher levels of the organisation, and they many follow a pattern like:


Where to find sales jobs

While there are a large number of sales jobs available, finding the one that makes full use of an individual’s specific skills and abilities may take some research. Along with being in possession of the requisite experience and training, there is the matter of career progression to consider along with things like expected targets, commission levels, and working responsibilities.


If you are seeking a position in sales there are a few different ways to find an appropriate role. Places liked Linkedin which focus on business to business relationships have a comprehensive job search section. Or you may decided to engage the services of a specialised recruitment service, this process can work well especially if seeking a position at higher or executive levels. 


Sales positions for all levels are advertised frequently on the following job boards.

  • Google Jobs
  • Simply Hired
  • Reed
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • ZipRecruiter


There are a number of job boards which deal only with sales jobs and offer appropriate roles for qualified candidates. Many companies place a high importance on sourcing and engaging qualified sales staff so many businesses have their own dedicated recruiter. When looking for positions with specific companies it is worth checking their website to see if they have a recruiter or HR department that are requesting CVs. 

Which employers have sales roles

Regardless of the type of business or industry, all organisations have an invested interest in developing their business and generating higher revenue. This means that there is a constant need for good sales staff to help with growth and business development. Supporting the businesses bottom line is a role of high responsibility and companies will invest substantial amounts to find the right sales people to support this endeavour.  


Without a solid business development process, companies risk losing their market position and failing revenue streams. Almost every company in the world, no matter what the industry from car sales to software, from financial to agriculture will require a solid sales team if they hope to retain a competitive edge within their market segment.  Sales people, especially executives and managers, are high-value employees within the organisation who quite simply, keep the money coming in.


What qualifications and experience is needed to work in sales?

Potential sales people who are just beginning their career and are seeking a position at entry level may not require all that much in the way of formal training and qualifications. A desire to succeed and the ability to be self motivated may be all that is needed. Some companies invest in training junior staff to develop their sales skills and they may have the opportunity to rise to higher positions within the company. 


Those who are searching for an executive position or who are looking for a director role will most likely require extensive qualifications, training and experience. Along with marketing and sales qualifications a business management or financial degree, combined with several years of proven experience will be needed. Qualification like accounting, business administration, or formalised training from recognised industry associations like the ISM can also be useful. 

How to develop a career in sales


Sales managers and executives who wish to start their career at a high level can opt for the educational path to gain the training and knowledge needed for a sales role. Dedicating time to a university or college degree can yield high dividends later on with those sales people who have accredited training being able to command higher salaries and a border scope of opportunity. 


Alternatively, a sales career can begin at an entry-level position with candidates gaining the experience needed from performing the tasks and duties associated with the position. For those who have an aptitude for sales there is the possibility to earn promotions, commission, and advance to higher levels or even executive positions. 


Following a career path in this manner can be supported by self-paced or business supported study. Courses, certificates, and training to upskill existing abilities and learn new ones may be taken by the candidate and self-funded, or may be paid for by the organisation as part as career training and development.

Salary and benefits

Expected salaries for sales jobs can vary widely depending on the level of the role, the organisation, the commission level, and the type of sales being performed. Sales positions can command extremely high salaries at executive level, or pay an average salary at entry level. Commission levels are frequently set as an incentive and can be impacted by the nature of the business. A sales manager selling office products may not earn as much as a sales person who sells huge agricultural machinery, for example. 


Salaries can also look very different for the same position in different size companies with large international corporations paying much more for a sales manager than a small locally run operation. Company location and geographic considerations may also come into play based on cost of living and other factors like property prices and area energy costs. An account executive in London may earn substantially more than one in Sheffield and current data shows that the estimated average from such a role is just above £30k per year. While that may not seem all that lucrative, there is also an expected additional earning of just above £15k per year which could come from commission, incentives, and bonuses. 


Sales people can attain an number of benefits from their position. The role is often target-driven and independent, leaving the sales professional to manage their own calls and appointment schedule. Largely, the day of a sales person can be self-directed with the opportunity to raise earnings through commissions and other incentives. There is also the chance to forge relationships and network both internally and externally with influencers and decision makers.  


Annual leave is usually generous, promotional opportunities are plentiful, and there may even be profit shares or company bonus schemes in place. Depending on the organisation the employee perks could include company discounts on products and purchases and subsidised memberships. There may also be things like free company events or employee days to benefit from. 

Admin Jobs FAQs


How can I get a job in sales with no experience?

Getting into sales is relatively easy for those who have a willingness to learn. It will mean starting at the bottom and working your way up. Networking and building skills along the way will be useful, and demonstrating transferable skills is always a positive thing from the employers standpoint. Make sure to tailor your CV and cover letter to highlight your suitability for sales roles. 


What should I include on my CV for a sales job?

Show your employer how and why you are the perfect fit for the sales position they are advertising. Highlight any previous experience and share your training and qualifications. Company culture can be a big thing, so include a cover letter and explain how you can fit in and contribute to the company in a positive way. 


How much commission can I earn in sales?

One of the biggest advantages of working in sales is the ability to control your own income. Building partnerships and closing deals means that you can create a consistent flow of commission and bonuses. Whether the sales cycle is short or long, there is money to earn and commissions can frequently be uncapped. 


Will there be promotional opportunities in sales?

As sales is such a core component of business operations there are a many opportunities for advancement, perhaps more than in many other types of business. Career progression can be healthy, and nurturing the right relationships while proving you can manage the sales process can lead to numerous opportunity for promotion and job enhancements. 


What kind of executive sales jobs are available?


Executive positions can be titled as consultant, manager, executive, director, or have the prefix ‘senior’ in many cases. So instead of a sales executive the next step up may be ‘Senior sales executive’. There are opportunities in regional and area management and large companies may even have a VP or SVP of sales to oversee entire regional or national operations. 


How can I hire the best sales people?


Organisations who wish to hire the best sales people will need to make their proposition attractive. As there is much opportunity in the field of sales it may mean that companies will need to make more effort to attract qualified and talented people. Explaining bonuses and benefits, describing company culture, and highlighting unique features of the job will all help to attract qualified candidates. 


What is the job of a sales director?


A sales director motivates and inspires teams to achieve sales targets. This can involve making a strategic plan and delegating responsibility to individual sales people. It can also mean designing plans to maintain customer engagement and satisfaction. Costs adjustment, pricing, and monitoring market trends along with forecasting and creating annual sales quotas may all fall under the jurisdiction of the sales director. 




Further reading:






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