We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does a Sales Representative do?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Any company that creates a product or products may employ a sales representative, a person who represents the company and showcases and sells products. The range of jobs available to the sales representative can vary significantly. For instance if you work as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company, you’d have to have excellent understanding of science, chemistry, biology and some medical terms. Frequently people who work in sales for these companies hold a bachelor’s degree in either business or one of the life sciences. At other times, products are more general and won’t require a four-year degree to sell. For instance you can be a sales representative for a candy manufacturer, a company that makes chairs, or a carpet cleaning company.

The job of a sales representative can be highly variable. Many people are expected to travel, at least locally, and sometimes nationally or internationally. They are the point of contact between a business interested in buying a product or service, and their own business, which sells the product or service. Some representatives work on leads only, those people or companies who express interest in their products. Others must employ other methods, like cold calling, or simply showing up at a potential buyer’s place of business or residence in order to try to engage interest in products or services.

For instance, you may notice sales representatives who sell home products or services like window replacement, carpet cleaning, housecleaning services, or food products canvassing neighborhoods in the hopes of finding likely people to buy products. Even the student selling cookies or candy is essentially a sales representative for their school and the company selling the product, when they go from door to door and attempt to get sales. These kids could technically be classed as fundraisers too, since part of the profits of their sales will benefit their school, and they don’t individually profit from their sales.

A representative definitely requires product knowledge of whatever he or she is selling, and is more successful when skilled at talking to people and learned at various sales tactics. Companies may advocate that the representative learn specific sales tactics, and some companies even train employees on the way they want their products sold. People working in sales may also be empowered to make special offers to potential customers when they purchase larger amounts of services or products.

Pay rate for the sales representative is highly dependent on the market for the product being sold, and reimbursement strategies can differ significantly. Some representatives are paid on commission only, others work on a draw versus commission basis, and yet others are paid a salary for their job, sometimes with bonuses if they reach certain sales quotas. Unless a product is in high demand, or your sales tactics are incredibly good, working on commission only can be a risky proposition. You could go some months without being paid, and then have months where you make a lot of money. When your pay varies, you should always save a little bit of money from more profitable months to help you get through leaner months.

The term sales representative may also more generally apply to people who work in retail stores, and people who take telephone orders for products or services. For instance if you call the phone company to order call waiting for your phone, you may be referred to a sales representative. Again this person must represent their company with a goal of being able to sell the most goods or services to customers.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon337503 — On Jun 05, 2013

@anon114333: Cut that passive voice out and be upfront and direct.

By anon179634 — On May 24, 2011

What other courses can one study to become a professional sale rep?

By anon164667 — On Apr 01, 2011

Just be confident and friendly. You will be surprised how much confidence in yourself and your product will lead your client to make the purchase.

Someone once told me: "If you're not being told 'No' by clients you're doing something wrong". Don't be afraid of being rejected by clients. It's just part of the job and sales is a bit of a numbers game anyway.

You can always copy Dwight Schrute from "The Office" and listen to a pre-pitch song to give yourself that confidence that is so important. Remember, if you're not confident in your product, why should the client be?

By anon114333 — On Sep 28, 2010

I'm one of the aspiring applicants in a position as a sales representative. i want advice on how i can do my future job well?

By anon96290 — On Jul 15, 2010

I work in sales and have done for about a year and a half. Do you know of anyone who could help with the presentation side? I have my first major presentation in about a month and am, shall we say, less than confident, in my pitch.

By anon94096 — On Jul 07, 2010

I am applying for a sales representative. I am quite nervous but i love to be in selling, and gaining more friends.

By bigblind — On Jun 21, 2010

For anyone considering a job in sales: watch out. There are plenty of sales jobs that are scams. About a year ago, I worked for a certain knife company as a salesman (I won’t name any names). I had been told by friends that the job was a scam, but I took it anyway because I was desperate for income and it seemed to potentially pay well. Once I got through the introduction however, I realized that the job was indeed a big scam. At this particular company, the salesperson had to put down a deposit on the merchandise he or she is supposed to sell. It was not cheap either, mind you. That means, if an employee gets fired or just can’t find appointments to sell the knives, they have to pay out of their own pocket. So, for anyone thinking about working as a salesman, I would suggest being very cautious.

By lori43 — On Jun 21, 2010

@anon25406 – If you can get a position in selling medical supplies and machinery, I would really suggest you take it. Most sales jobs pay by a percentage commission. So, if you manage to convince a hospital to buy an MRI scanner (which cost millions of dollars), even a 1% commission will pay back well. As a surgical technician, you are probably better equipped for a job in medical supply sales than your average salesman because you have personal experience with the equipment. Medical supply sales is something you might seriously want to look into if you are up to the inherent challenges of being a salesperson.

By anon25406 — On Jan 28, 2009

What opportunities are there in sales for a surgical technician?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
Learn more
Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.