Sales executives sell products and services to existing customers, and solicit new business clients to increase sales revenues. Sales executives work against periodic targets, set at weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly and yearly levels.
The sales function is classified into two broad categories, based on the type of customer: B2B, or business-to-business, in which the customer base is other businesses and commercial enterprises (also referred to as institutional sales); and B2C, or business-to-customer (also referred to as retail or consumer sales), with the customer being the end-user of the product or service.
Salary & benefits
Salaries depend on the industry and market where sales executives operate, as well as the employer and method of selling. Compensation packages are usually a combination of base salary and sales commission based on assigned targets. Sometimes, however, they are wholly commission-based, especially for sales executives employed by self-employed or independent distributors.
Salaries for entry-level sales executives are in the range of £15,000 to £35,000, while those with up to five years’ experience can earn up to to £50,000.
Senior-level sales executives can earn up to as much as £100,000.
Typical working hours for sales executives are long and erratic, dependent upon customer schedules and requirements. There’s also a lot of travelling involved, both within the home city and around outstation locations for sales executives who are responsible for larger territories.
However, most companies provide transport or reimburse travel expenses, in addition to mobile phones and laptops for business use.
Hence, it is possible for sales executives to work with flexible starting times and work from a remote location, as long as managers are kept updated on progress and sales targets set by the company are met.
Employers place greater emphasis on individual attitudes and personality than on academic achievements alone. However, a degree in business, marketing, sales, advertising or similar subjects is a definite advantage.
Candidates with degrees in other disciplines are also eligible, as long as they’re able to demonstrate excellent communication and people skills, the ability to handle a job which involves regular and frequent travel, and a confident and ambitious attitude and approach to work.
Training & progression
Training is mainly dependent on the employer and industry in which employers operate, but usually include a thorough orientation in company’s products and services, selling techniques and methodologies, followed by an extensive schedule of work-shadowing experienced executives, both within the office and on field calls.
Sales trainees take up independent responsibilities and are assigned a target customer segment, based on growing experience and aptitude displayed during the training period.
Career progression is again dependent on performance and sales contributions. Executives can also move into lateral functions such as marketing, product development, or market research.