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Manufacturers' Sales Worker Job Description, Career as a Manufacturers' Sales Worker, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Typically college plus training

Salary Median—$45,400 to $58,580 per year

Employment Outlook Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Manufacturers' sales workers sell products to businesses. Sometimes called manufacturers' representatives, these sales workers work for many different industries. They sell computers, pharmaceutical supplies, equipment for industrial processes, and many other products to wholesale buyers, purchasing agents, and retail buyers.

The duties of the job vary widely, depending on the product being sold, the market, and the manufacturer. However, all manufacturers' sales workers must be familiar with their product and its major selling points. They also need to know the priorities of their customers and the unique qualities of their product that set it apart from other products. They seek out new customers to widen their selling market; for example, a sales worker employed by a pharmaceutical company might go directly to doctors' offices and drugstores. In addition, manufacturers' sales workers attend conferences and trade meetings to talk with potential customers. A sales worker for a pharmaceutical firm might arrange a display at a doctors' convention. Sales workers maintain contact with their customers for additional orders and to introduce new products. Most sales workers also do paperwork such as arranging the terms of sales and establishing customers' credit ratings.

A manufacturers' sales worker meets with a building contractor to sell him building supplies. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Some manufacturers' sales workers sell products that need to be reordered frequently. These salespeople usually travel the same route on a regular basis to take reorders. Those who sell to retail outlets may suggest marketing techniques for their products.

Other sales workers, such as those who deal with industrial machinery, sell products that are seldom, if ever, reordered. Generally these workers spend a great deal of time making a single sale. Each sale may be worth thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sales workers in this situation usually work with several customers at one time.

In fields such as computer sales, manufacturers' sales workers must possess a great deal of technical knowledge. Some companies hire technical support workers to assist sales workers. Technical support workers are people who, although not directly involved in sales, accompany sales workers to provide technical information. Depending on the product, technical support workers may be engineers, scientists, or computer experts. They may also work with the customer after the sale is made, perhaps by supervising the installation of equipment or by providing training to workers at the customer's plant or office or by designing systems that will let the customer get the best use from the product.

Education and Training Requirements

Education requirements for manufacturers' sales workers vary depending on the product they sell. Many companies prefer to hire applicants who have a college degree. Manufacturers generally will seek graduates with degrees in fields relating to the products they will be selling. For example, drug manufacturers tend to hire applicants who have a degree in biology or chemistry. Manufacturers also look for candidates who have some technical training or work experience in the industry to which they sell.

Once applicants are hired, they are trained either at the manufacturing plant or at a branch office. The length of time needed to complete the training period varies from one company to another. In some companies beginners are trained for two years or more.

Getting the Job

College placement offices can offer students help in finding jobs as manufacturers' sales workers. Interested individuals should also apply directly to the manufacturers for which they would like to work. Jobs are frequently listed in newspaper want ads or on career sites on the Internet.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Manufacturers' sales workers may advance to supervisory positions such as sales training manager or sales manager. Some advance to other administrative jobs in their company.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of manufacturers' sales workers was expected to increase as fast as the average for all professions from 2004 to 2014. The number of products available to consumers will likely increase in coming years, and more sales workers will be required to peddle these products. New sales representatives will also be needed to replace those who leave the field; however, the need for manufacturers' sales workers will be tempered by advances in information technology that will allow existing salespeople to be more efficient at their jobs.

Working Conditions

Many manufacturers' sales workers must do a great deal of traveling. They generally travel before or after their workday so that they will not lose selling time. Because they work for commissions or bonuses, sales workers usually try to work with customers for as many hours each day as they can. Sales workers must be friendly and enthusiastic about their work and be able to adjust easily to the personalities of their various customers.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
1725 K St. NW, Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20006-1419
(202) 872-0885

Professional Society for Sales and Marketing Training
5905 NW 54th Circle
Coral Springs, FL 33067
(800) 219-0096

Sales and Marketing Executives International
P.O. Box 1390
Sumas, WA 98295-1390
(312) 893-0751

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings for manufacturers' sales workers vary widely, depending on the industry, the employer, and the education required. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that manufacturers' sales workers who sold technical and scientific products earned a median annual income of $58,580 in 2004. Those who did not specialize in technical or science products earned a median of $45,400 per year. Benefits usually include health and life insurance, paid holidays and vacations, and retirement plans. Many sales workers are given a company car for business use or are reimbursed for the use of their own car and other travel expenses.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesSales & Marketing