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What does a Sales Executive do?

By Lori Smith
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A sales executive is responsible for generating leads, following up with clients and maintaining professional relationships with others to secure future business. Most of these individuals have predefined quotas or goals they are required to reach. In order to meet or exceed challenging objectives set by superiors, some people visit local businesses to solicit a service; others fly around the world promoting new products. They also often make numerous cold calls each day to find new opportunities. Once a client expresses interest, a sales executive may be required to perform administrative tasks, such as filling out paperwork, to complete the transaction.

Interpersonal skills, perseverance and tenacity are traits that most people in this position share. Successful salespeople usually enjoy meeting and interacting with others. They frequently seek out new ways to promote themselves and the company or product they represent. Most of them network with others to encourage referrals and foster relationships with those who may be in a position to help them generate business. These individuals also spend time looking for potential customers in unique and creative ways.

Money is usually the motivating factor for these professionals. A sales executive often works on a commission structure as opposed to a predetermined salary. Therefore, he is in charge of his own earnings. Some business owners offer substantial bonuses and rewards in addition to regular compensation when salespeople exceed their goals. For this reason, successful sellers can make lucrative incomes. On the other hand, if a sales executive does not devote the required hours and effort to foster business relationships and seek out new clientele, he may not earn as much as his peers.

Most of the time, a sales executive is not required to have a higher level of education in order to obtain a sales position, though it certainly helps. Excellent written and verbal skills help inspire the confidence of others. When people feel that a sales executive is intelligent, eloquent and personable, they are often more likely to buy a product from him or sign a contract for services.

While a pleasant personality is an important trait, product knowledge is crucial. A sales executive should have a comprehensive understanding about the merchandise or service he sells. When a potential client asks questions, the representative should be able to respond appropriately. Additionally, if the customer poses objections or is unsure about whether or not he wants to purchase something, the salesperson should be adept at emphasizing the positive qualities of the brand.

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Discussion Comments
By bagley79 — On Aug 04, 2011

Many times a successful sales executive will have excellent people skills, but may struggle with the paperwork that is involved.

My husband has worked in sales for years. He loves this type of job and does very well at it, but he does not like keeping up with the record keeping and paperwork. This is the part of the job that he really has to work at.

I find the opposite would be true for me. I am very detail oriented and enjoy paperwork, but would not be very good as a sales executive.

By sunshined — On Aug 03, 2011

Some people have a natural way of being a good sales person. My son was always selling something and as a young boy would always be the top seller at anything he did while in school.

When he was just 19 years old he took a selling job, and these qualities helped him be quite successful. At the time he took the job he was the youngest employee of the company and after just a few months had the highest sales in the state.

Sales training certainly helped him fine tune his natural ability, but this is something that has always come very easy for him. I know I would not be very good at it and would hate to have to make a living by selling anything.

By Mykol — On Aug 02, 2011

If someone wants to be successful as a sales executive, one of the most important things is to listen to your prospective customer. There is nothing that turns people off faster than to feel as if you are trying to sell them something without listening to them. They need to know that you care about them as a person and not just a number.

Once you have made a sale, you should then be vigilant about keeping in touch with them about any changes and making sure they are satisfied.

Making sure you have satisfied customers is the best thing you can do. This will often lead to further sales and is a win-win situation for everybody.

By Bhutan — On Aug 02, 2011

@Oasis11 - I agree with you. You also really have to listen to the customer because the customers will give you all the clues you need in order to offer them exactly what they want.

If you are the type of person that talks endlessly then you will not be successful because you will push products on the customer instead of listening to what they want.

In my years in sales, nothing annoys a prospect more than the sales executive trying to sell them a product that they don’t want or need. A real sales executive will create a need by explaining how the product or service will benefit the customer based on the information that the customer provided.

This is really when the customer perks up and starts to listen. I also always try to establish a rapport and talk about something other than business initially so that it can help the prospect relax.

I think that the sale executive has to also know something about this customer and do research on the company beforehand so that they can offer a relaxed and confident presentation. Customers buy from winners so you really have to act the part.

By oasis11 — On Aug 01, 2011

@Monika- You are right. Sales is not for everyone. I used to work as a sales executive and I loved the job because of the challenges. You really have to learn to accept rejection and move on.

I think that if you are the type of person that dwells on rejection then being a sales executive would be torture. What I used to do before I made my cold calls is tell myself that I am only going to book about 10% of the people that I call, so if I make 100 calls, I should get about ten appointments.

This allowed me to account for the rejection ahead of time which remarkably changed my perspective entirely. It motivated me to continue calling because I knew that I would be successful and I ultimately was.

By Monika — On Aug 01, 2011

@SZapper - You're right, I think it definitely takes a certain personality to work in sales. I, unfortunately, don't have that personality.

I have worked in sales before and I just find it way too stressful. The quotas especially stressed me out! The office I worked in also had a white board where the posted everyones numbers for that month. Mine were always low and it was so embarrassing.

I'm actually much happier working in customer service. I know a lot of people prefer sales because you can make more money. But the possibility of commissions didn't do me any good as I rarely ever sold anything!

By SZapper — On Jul 31, 2011

I've known a few people who worked in sales over the years, and I must say they are all a bunch of smooth talkers. There are a lot of sales techniques that people in sales use to get the customer to buy. I've definitely caught some of the sales executives I know using these techniques in real life!

One technique that is popular in sales is asking "yes" questions. If you can get a person to start saying yes, they are likely to keep doing so. Once I learned about that one I was able to pick up on a friend of mine trying to use the technique on me.

Honestly though, I think for sales executives who are good at their jobs, the selling becomes second nature. It's no wonder the sales techniques spill over into real life sometimes!

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