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Sales executives promote products and services to customers and negotiate contracts with the aim of maximising profits.

Salaries are often enhanced by a good benefits package, including commission-based earnings, bonuses, lunch allowances and sometimes health insurance and a company car.

What does a sales executive do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Sales executives are the key point of contact between an organisation and its clients: answering queries, offering advice and introducing new products.

Their work includes:

  • organising sales visits
  • demonstrating and presenting products
  • establishing new business
  • maintaining accurate records
  • attending trade exhibitions, conferences and meetings
  • reviewing sales performance
  • negotiating contracts and packages
  • aiming to achieve monthly or annual targets.

Promotional prospects are excellent - progression can be into senior sales roles or into related employment areas such as marketing or management.

Typical employers of sales executives

  • Manufacturers
  • Service industries
  • Retailers
  • Industrial organisations
  • Charities

Staff with specialist knowledge are employed in industries such as pharmaceutical, healthcare and publishing.

Vacancies are advertised by careers services, TARGETjobs and recruitment agencies, and appear in national and local newspapers. Specialist publications appropriate to the sales area (e.g. New Scientist, The Grocer, The Bookseller, Fast Track, Export Magazine) are also good sources of vacancies.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into sales for both university graduates and school leavers.

Any degree subject is acceptable, although relevant qualifications are preferred for some positions, particularly within medical or technical sales.

Relevant experience gained in any commercial area involving contact with customers or the general public can be beneficial. Larger employers run vacation courses and placements which can give a useful insight into the profession. Job shadowing, networking and speculative applications are advisable.

To find out how to get into sales via a school leaver route, visit the sales section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for sales executives

  • Maturity
  • Confidence
  • Perseverance
  • Patience
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • IT skills
  • Numerical skills

A full driving licence is often essential for jobs. Being able to speak more than one language fluently is also a useful skill.

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This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, who has funded the feature; it is advertising. We are committed to upholding our ethical values of transparency and honesty when dealing with students and feel that this is the best way not to deceive consumers of our content. The content will be written by GTI editors, but the organisation will have had input into the messaging, provided knowledge and contributors and approved the content.

In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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