A sales officer is anyone who works to sell a product or service for a company. Sales officers work in a variety of industries, from computers to automobiles to retail and manufacturing. Sometimes, sales officers work independently, but whether alone or with a team, the goal is the same: To push a product or service and close a deal.
Sales officers have to show customers what they are offering is worth buying. Salesmen do this by understanding the product and describing its benefits in great detail. Occasionally, they give a presentation and display how the item works. It’s also important for a sales officer to have a thorough knowledge of the competition, enabling him to show why his service should be considered superior.
Sales officers should be confident, energetic, organised and resilient, as even the most accomplished salespeople face rejection on a regular basis. They need to possess strong written and verbal communication skills, and be experts in customer service. Sales officers should also own at least a basic understanding of math, as they often deal with prices, deals and commissions.
There are no set requirements to become a sales officer, since the industry is wide-ranging and each company has different guidelines pertaining to sales. The key is to have displayed an understanding of, and even a passion for, the product or service offered. In some fields, just showing basic customer service skills is enough. In other industries, a college degree is required, with an emphasis on courses in marketing, promotions, communications and finance.
Jobs for sales officers are expected to grow by 7 to 12 per cent from 2008 to 2018, depending upon the industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). “In addition, many job openings will result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labour force,” the BLS reported on its "Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing" page.
Many sales officers earn a base salary along with a commission, or a percentage of what they have sold. Wages, therefore, vary greatly by industry. According to PayScale.com, sales officers in the pharmaceutical industry earned a median salary of anywhere from £25,350 to £71,500 per year as of February 2010. Meanwhile, inside sales reps earned £17,550 to £34,450 per year, reported that same month, while outside reps earned £16,250 to £45,500.
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