Education and Training: High school diploma or GED required. Some postsecondary education preferred.
Average Salary: $34,000 per year
Job Outlook: Poor
Sales assistants perform a variety of clerical and sales support functions for sales executives. Their duties include processing sales leads, answering initial customer inquiries, creating sales reports, data entry of sales transactions, and setting sales appointments. Sales assistants work in a variety of settings including retail and non-retail organizations. Regardless of industry the goal of a sales assistant is clear: provide sales support for sales professionals and help increase sales revenue. Most of the sales assistant job functions are done behind the scenes and are administrative in nature. This helps the salesperson focus more on direct selling.
Education and Training Requirements
No formal education or training is required although more and more organizations are only hiring sales assistants with some level of postsecondary education. Workers with a two-year associate’s or four-year bachelor’s degree in a business related discipline have the best chances of obtaining employment. Most of the training is done on the job. Sales assistants receive sales training as well as office management training and computer office software training.
Getting the Job
No prior sales experience is required to obtain a position as a sales associate although it greatly increases the chances of employment. A college degree can substitute for sales experience and vice versa. Many recent college graduates take sales assistant positions before moving into higher level positions. Student internships often provide open doors to employment as students gain valuable experience and are able to interface with company decision makers. Sales assistant jobs are advertised through traditional means such as internet job websites, recruiting agencies, temporary employment agencies, industry publications, and newspaper print and online classified ads.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
Job prospects are expected to be poor because of poor economic conditions that have resulted in a slowdown of spending by organizations and consumers. Many sales executives have taken on typical sales assistant duties in an effort to save money. Also, many sales assistant duties have been lost to international outsourcing or advancements in technology.
Some employees use the position as a stepping stone while others work as sales assistants for their entire career. Many organizations encourage career development and offer tuition reimbursement for sales assistants who want to attend an accredited college or university and major in a related discipline.
Working Conditions and Environment
Sales assistants work in an office environment and have a relatively sedentary position that requires long hours sitting at a desk. Most of their work is done on a computer. They also utilize business machines such as facsimiles, copiers, and printers. The environment is fast paced as most sales organizations and departments are very goal driven and must meet sales quotas. The typical sales assistant work a traditional 40 hour work week; office hours are typically 8 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday with weekends and major holidays off.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary is $34,000 per year. Non-retail sales assistants make more than retail sales assistants. They are typically paid an hourly wage. Some sales assistants can earn bonuses and commission tied to company sales goals. Benefits such as medical, dental, and retirement are often provided for full-time sales assistants.
Where to Go for More Information
National Association of Sales Professionals
555 Friendly St.
Pontiac, MI 48302
The Sales Association
2460 W. 26th Ave., Ste. 245-C
Denver, CO 80211
SMEI – Sales and Marketing Professional Association
Ste. 1500 – 885 W Georgia St.
Vancouver, BC, V6C 3E8