Career Guide

Sales Executive

Daniella Driscoll  · Jan 25th 2023

The world of business has evolved a lot in the past fifty years or so. Moving from paper-based operations into the world of digital compliance and so on has only made the world of business a more exciting and more competitive playing field

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A sales executive is a friendly, conversational and customer-facing role, working with various organisations and businesses to help sell products or services.

It’s a role with significant progression, benefits prospects and developing your learning for the sales market.


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What is a sales executive?

A sales executive works in the sales team in a business or organisation, helping that company drive business forward by selling its products or services. This role could be on the phone or meeting up with potential customers in person or online.

As a sales executive, your main goal is selling a company’s product or services to other businesses, individuals and government organisations. Depending on your company, sales can be domestic (in the UK), international or both.

Sales executives have a great approach when talking to new customers, aiming to persuade them to work together and also maintain good relationships with existing customers, to gain repeat business.


Sales consultant jobs are open to all graduates, however, some subjects are more beneficial, especially if you are looking to work within an organisation selling specialist products or services.

Sales executives can also be known as sales consultants, sales representatives, brand representatives, business development representatives or territory managers. You will either operate between one of the two main categories of sales: business to business (B2B) or business to customer or consumer (B2C). The category type will determine your approach to the sales strategy.

Responsibilities

A sales consultant needs to be confident in their sales nature and keen to work with others. Depending on the type of sales category, responsibilities vary.

For both roles:

  • Attend team meets and collaborate with colleagues on ideas and best practice.
  • Contact new and existing customers to drive business.
  • Create presentations to promote new products.
  • Manage and respond to customer enquiries and issues.
  • Negotiate and agree on the costs, price, delivery and specifications with managers and buyers of products and services.
  • Record orders and sales information, providing copies for the sales office or entering into a computer system.
  • Represent the organisation at conferences, events, trade exhibitions and demonstrations to understand industry trends.
  • Review sales performance and ensure you meet or exceed targets.
  • Work with suppliers to check the progress of existing orders.

For B2B sales:

  • Create and maintain good working relationships with other businesses.
  • Present the service or product to businesses face-face or virtually in a professional manner.
  • Research the market and related products, and understand the needs of business customers.

For B2C sales:

  • Arrange meetings with potential customers for new business.
  • Challenge and negotiate with customers to get them to buy.
  • Create proposal documents as part of a formal bidding process.
  • Create, maintain and develop relationships with existing customers through emails and telephone calls.
  • Discuss special promotions and advise on new product developments to customers.
  • Listen attentively to customers' needs and requirements, and act appropriately to make a sale.
  • Manage and respond to email and phone enquiries.
  • Monitor the quantities of goods in stock available.
  • Negotiate the terms of the agreement and close sales with new and existing customers.
  • Research and gather market and customer information.

Salary

A sales executive's salary can vary depending on the organisation you are working for and your skill level. The average sales executive salary in the UK is around £30,000-£32,000[1]. For entry-level positions, salaries can range from £21,000-£24,000. More experienced sales executives can earn £50,000+[2].

In London, the average sales executive salary starts at £32,000 but has the potential to grow further, reaching as high as £59,000+[3].

For sales executive jobs, salaries are usually a combination of the basic salary and a bonus or commission (based on quantity sold). This combined amount is called on-target earnings (OTE). The commission rate varies depending on who you are working for. There’s also the option to work on a commission-only basis, and your income is determined by how many sales you make.


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Qualifications

Sales consultant jobs are open to all graduates, however, some subjects are more beneficial, especially if you are looking to work within an organisation selling specialist products or services.

These undergraduate degrees can include:

Most larger employers provide graduate schemes and usually expect a 2:1 degree in one of the above subjects, involvement in university activities and relevant work experience.

Although a degree is beneficial to this career, it’s not essential. Many employers are also keen on your attitude, abilities, personality, communication skills and commercial awareness of the market and how you present yourself.

It’s not essential for a postgraduate qualification, however, further study can provide you with more insight into the business world.

Training and development

Training and development in this job are dependent on the organisation. Initially, the company may put you on a short induction course, educating you about who the company is, what they sell or offer as a service and the sales method. This training can be done in-house by the employer or via an outsourced training company.


If you would like to study whilst you work, an apprenticeship is a beneficial option.

Other forms of development can involve taking over sales calls with supervision and shadowing someone else before you can go into making your sales. After induction, you will be on probation to settle into the role and once passed, will work on targeted sales.

Training on the role can include various selling techniques such as negotiation, how to close sales, how to deal with potential objections and developing your communication skills further. You may even have to take part in role-play exercises to understand how to talk with customers or other businesses. For smaller companies, you may only receive the induction as basic instruction for the job.

To develop your qualifications, numerous marketing and sales courses are available such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the Institute of Sales Professionals. You will need to ask your employer if they’ll fund these qualifications as part of your development.

Skills

The job of a sales executive is collaborative, social and all about confidence. These are the main skills you will be required to have:

  • A flexible attitude and open to change.
  • A positive and confident approach to work.
  • A resilient attitude and ability to cope with rejection.
  • Fluent in a foreign language - great for working with international organisations.
  • Full driving licence.
  • Self-motivated, ambitious and determined.
  • Strong communication and customer service skills.
  • Strong understanding of numeracy.
  • The ability and ambition to sell products and services.
  • The ability to flourish in a competitive environment.
  • The ability to use a computer and its software effectively.
  • The ability to use your initiative and pay attention to details.
  • The ability to work well in a team and with others.

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Work experience

If you would like to study whilst you work, an apprenticeship is a beneficial option. There are various sales apprenticeships including the Level 3 IT technical salesperson higher apprenticeship and the Level 4 Sales executive higher apprenticeship. For higher entry apprenticeships, you can choose the Level 6 Business to business sales professional degree apprenticeship. These apprenticeships can provide you with qualifications and hands-on skills for the role. Other apprenticeships in marketing, customer services and retail can also benefit.

Many larger organisations recruit for sales positions aimed at graduates. This will give graduates experience in the industry straight away and training. Training can also involve marketing and working within a customer-facing environment.

Career prospects

Within this role, promotion is based on your targets and results. If you are a high performer, you are likely to progress quicker with earlier promotions, which means a successful sales record is what you are aiming for.


A sales executive works in the sales team in a business or organisation, helping that company drive business forward by selling its products or services.

Being successful in the role can lead you to take on larger customer accounts, taking key responsibility for products and work on national accounts. It can also aid you in reaching higher ranks such as a sales manager role, taking care of a team.

Promotion structures are common in larger companies. This typically includes moving from executive to manager, to national sales manager and onto a marketing and sales director status. Although some people stay in one company to progress, it’s common to move between employers.

With experience, you can also move into recruitment or training and education. Additionally, there’s the option to work in marketing, advertising or public relations.

References

  • [1]Sales Executive average salary in United Kingdom, 2022 — Talent.co.uk Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  • [2]Sales Executive Salary in the UK — Jobted.co.uk Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  • [3]Sales Executive Salaries in London Area — Glassdor.co.uk Retrieved 30 September 2022.


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