Why do work experience in sales?
If you’re considering a graduate career in sales, a sales internship or work experience placement will help you hone your skills and will give you examples of relevant competencies that you can use in your applications for graduate schemes.
Our sales executive job description explains what a sales executive role involves. Key skills required include the following:
- perseverance and resilience
- excellent interpersonal skills
- commercial awareness
- drive and a competitive instinct
Most sales internships or roles are open to any degree background. However, a degree that is relevant to the vacancy you are applying for may be an advantage. For example, if you are studying IT, that might make you a strong candidate for sales internships with IT companies. Some employers may welcome applications from business students, or students of other subjects that include a commercial focus.
Which employers offer sales work experience?
Any organisation that sells products or services is a potential employer, and may provide work experience opportunities. Some organisations sell directly to the consumer (business-to-consumer, or B2C) while others sell or to other businesses (business to business, or B2B).
The following types of organisation are particularly likely to recruit students for sales internships:
- financial services providers
- pharmaceutical companies
- consumer goods companies
- IT companies
Ways to gain work experience in sales
An internship with a big graduate recruiter is a good stepping stone to a career in sales. Your placement is likely to be structured to give you a good introduction to both the role and the employer, and if you perform well, you might be fast-tracked onto the graduate scheme. You could also apply for work experience with smaller companies, or consider sending out speculative applications to employers that do not run formal work experience programmes.
There are also many other ways to develop the skills employers are looking for when they recruit graduates for sales roles:
- part-time or holiday work in retail
- fundraising for a charity
- any role that involves contact with customers
- extracurricular activities that show your drive and powers of persuasion, such as sport, drama, or involvement in a debating society
What kind of sales role are you interested in?
Sales roles vary widely, both in terms of the industry you are part of and the nature of the work. The following are some key areas that might interest you as you plan your career and decide where to apply for work experience:
Commercial negotiation. This is sometimes also known as commercial management and involves negotiating contracts and managing projects for the maximum return. It also involves identifying and developing new business opportunities.
Business to business sales. You’ll be selling products or services to businesses, building relationships and providing after-sales care.
- Recruitment sales. You could be working in a recruitment agency or consultancy which might specialise in a particular area such as IT, media or law. You’ll need to get to know your clients so you can find the right candidates for them.
- Consumer goods sales. You could be involved in every stage of the sales process, from planning through to marketing, advertising and branding.