If you work in sales support it's your job to undertake administration and other office duties that leave the sales team free to focus on the busy business of selling.
So, what will I actually be doing?
You work depends on the size of team you work in and the type of sales your company focuses on. Typically you'll be:
- Processing new sales leads
- Managing the correspondence between the sales team and their clients
- Monitoring customer accounts
- Providing data and reports to help the sales team
- Keeping track of sales targets
- Answering phone calls
- Scheduling diaries
Sales teams across all industries have support teams behind them. The support team is usually headed-up by a sales support executive who co-ordinates all the work and acts as the bridge between the two teams.
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The nitty gritty
As a general rule you'll probably work a 37 to 40 hour week and you'll be office-based.
Part-time opportunities might be available depending on the organisation you work for.
Your first promotion will probably be to sales support executive in charge of the team, where you'll take on management for the support team. This role will then put you in an ideal position to shadow and learn directly from sales team for a later move into sales. Many sales support staff go on to be successful sales executives and account managers and in some cases, team leaders.
You could also branch out of sales and move into a broader office support role, such as administration or office management and work your way up the career ladder from there.
Money, money, money
A typical starting salary is around £16,000 to £18,000. With experience you can expect to be on £20,000 to £21,000.
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The good points...
As you find your feet, you may find that your sales team welcomes and encourages your input and ideas.
You may also find that as you are part of the larger sales team part of your salary will be topped up bonuses if sales targets are met.
...and the bad
Sales teams are notorious for working irregular hours so on occasions you might be called upon to help.
Is there study involved?
Initially you will start with a structured induction programme, which will introduce you to the role, the company and the company's products and services.
You'll also be given some training on specific sales administration techniques and some basic sales methods.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
No matter what your role in sales it's a fast-paced industry and the following skills will help you stay on the ball:
- Good customer care skills
- Good written and verbal English
- Accuracy and attention to detail
- Good organisational skills
- Good computer and keyboard skills
- An ability to work under pressure and to deadlines
- An ability to work independently and as a team
- Good administrative skills
- Quick to learn
Although it's an advantage to have experience in the field you're going into, for example IT experience for IT sales, it's not essential.
It's actually quite a good idea to get some experience temping on or a work placement to help you decide which field you want to go into before settling in a permanent job.
Most importantly you should display the personal skills listed above, backed up with a good standard of education - GCSE level or above.
You should also do your homework on the sales industry in general so you can talk knowledgably about using your role in sales support as a springboard to a successful career in sales in the future.