3 minute read


Education and Training: High school diploma preferred
Average Salary: $69,000
Job Outlook: Good

A salesperson is a person who is responsible for representing a company’s services or products to potential customers so that the customers have a positive view of these products and services. Salesmen and saleswomen must have excellent customer service skills, as customer service results in more and better sales than simply pushing a company’s products or services at a potential customer.

A salesperson can work in many different industries, including retail, wholesale, or technical industries. Salespeople in retail often work on the retail floor and may have other responsibilities, including running cash registers, organizing displays, tagging items, and organizing shelves. Those in some technical industries, including medical equipment sales, often travel to their potential customers or conduct many of their sales over the phone.

Education and Training Requirements

Many industries require that a salesman or woman have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. In retail sales, educational requirements are typically lower. Those who work in wholesale may need some college classes in sales or advertising. In technical industries, such as medical products or technical sales, salespersons may be required to have specific knowledge of the industry as well as more experience.

Most salespersons are trained on the job by the company for which they are selling. Continuing education through company trainings and seminars is common, as well. Companies typically provide paid training for their sales staff, and newer salespersons may be trained by more experienced salespeople while they are on the job.

Getting the Job

Salespersons may be hired straight from applications without much experience in sales, although those in highly technical or competitive industries may need some experience in sales before applying. Higher level sales positions often go to salespeople from within the hiring company.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

A high turnover rate for salesperson jobs means that these jobs are often available. In the technical and medical equipment industries, job growth is expected over the next few years, as startup companies develop and existing companies start marketing new products to specific niche customers.

Salespeople can often move into management positions, whether as shift managers at the retail level or as sales managers at the wholesale or technical level. Many who start out as salespeople go on to become sales executives for the company in which they begin.

Working Conditions and Environment

Salespeople in retail often work on the retail floor and spend most of their time on their feet. They normally work with customers face to face, and may also work to keep the retail floor straightened up and neat looking. Salespeople in the wholesale arena are more likely to conduct business over the phone or via planned meetings with potential clients. Some salesmen still travel door to door or from one company to the next. For instance, medical equipment salespeople often travel between hospitals or doctors’ offices to find potential buyers for their wares.

The job of a salesman isn’t particularly stressful, but it can be busy, especially over the holiday season when sales tend to ramp up in retail stores. Hours vary with the industry a salesperson works in. Those in retail often work odd hours, including evenings and weekends, while those in technical and medical sales often work regular nine to five hours during the week.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary of a salesperson is $69,900, but there is huge variance here. Those in retail sales make much less and are often paid on an hourly basis, averaging $8 to $10 an hour, with a few making up to $15 per hour. Those in higher level sales positions or who sell more expensive products may make over $100,000 per year. Much of a salesperson’s pay depends on commission, so the more sales that are made, the more he or she will be paid.

Most full time salesmen can get company health benefits, retirement plans, and vacation packages. Those who work part time may be eligible for only some of these benefits.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association of Medical Sales Representatives
2776 S Arlington Mill Dr., Ste. 504
Arlington, VA 22206
(800) 313-9198

National Association for Retail Marketing Services
2417 Post Rd.
Stevens Point, WI 54481
(715) 342-0948

National Retail Federation
325 7th St. NW, Ste. 1100
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 783-7971

Additional topics

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