Want to work in a sales job where there's plenty of variety to your work? In field sales, that's exactly what you'll have.
Depending on the sector and organisation you're working for you could be doing anything from cold calling and following up leads to developing sales campaigns and finding new clients. Want to know more yet?
So, what will I actually be doing?
Your specific duties are likely to include:
- Qualifying prospects
- Pipeline management
- Generating revenue and acquiring customers
- Customer evaluation and procurement
- Sales process management
- ROI analysis on why to buy and why to buy now
- Accurate forecasting
- Development of best practices for leading successful sales campaigns
- Develop a repeatable sales model that ensures consistent success and revenue growth
- Devise creative, "out-of-the-box" ideas and implement them
- Be responsible and accountable for meeting deadlines
- Giving feedback to management
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The nitty gritty
Your working hours will vary according to your sector and your conditions can also vary widely according to the field you're in.
You could well be working from home, transmitting orders, reports and sales analyses to your office. If you travel widely, especially overseas, you could be using your hotel room as a base. In view of all the travel you're likely to do, it's generally important to have a driving licence.
After you've gained experience, you could get promoted to handle larger and more prestigious accounts.
You could move out of field sales and into training and education or recruitment. You could move into related career areas, such as advertising, marketing and public relations (PR). It's also common to move companies for promotion or a higher salary.
Money, money, money
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
- Starting salaries vary but will be in the range of £17,000 to £35,000
- With three to five years' experience, you could earn £22,000 - £43,000
- At senior levels, you could earn £38,000 - £100,000 and more
Salaries are usually based on success in meeting sales targets, and jobs may be advertised as OTE, which means 'on target earnings'.
Most companies offer a basic salary with a bonus or commission scheme, which can vary widely depending on experience and the industry or market sector. A car or petrol allowance and expenses are usually included in the salary package.
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The good points...
Don’t want to be stuck in a dead-end job? Then this is the career for you. Most companies have a promotion structure you could progress through, moving from area to regional sales manager and eventually sales director. Promotion is based on results, and rapid progress is a real possibility in sales. If you specialise in an area such as vehicle sales, you could even become manager of a dealership.
Fancy being your own boss? In addition, it's possible to go self-employed or set up your own company on the back of your sales skills.
...and the bad
Generally your working hours will be quite long, with the pressure to hit targets making late finishes a regular feature.
Is there study involved?
Increasingly, academic qualifications are becoming less important than attitude and ability, and there are no minimum requirements.
That said, for graduates the subjects in most demand are business/management; journalism or media studies for advertising and media sales, modern European languages and computing, engineering or technology for technical sales.
Larger employers operate graduate training schemes, although usually you'll need a 2:1 or above. If you've been involved with university activities or have relevant work experience so much the better.
You may well find it an advantage to have work-based qualifications, such as NVQs in sales or qualifications from professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing, the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) and the Managing and Marketing Sales Association (MAMSA).
Usually, you'll be taking training in-house. Many companies offer new entrants a short induction course that covers products and sales administration. Training will also include selling techniques, such as how to sell, how to deal with potential objections and how to close sales.
After induction, you'll generally spend time in training, without any pressure to meet targets. You'll shadow an experienced representative and gradually take over their sales calls. You'll then be expected to get up to speed quickly and meet individual targets.
You may undertake further training and development to support your career development. You should aim to complete the programme offered by the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (ISMM), which will enhance your career and salary prospects. ISMM qualifications are suitable whether you're about to embark on a new career or are an experienced professional.
You could also work towards NVQ levels 3 and 4 in Sales, as well as qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the Managing and Marketing Sales Association (MAMSA). See the appropriate websites for more details.
Although not imperative, professional qualifications can definitely help with your career development. Some senior sales professionals undertake postgraduate study in areas such as sales management, or take an MBA.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
To succeed in field sales, you'll need to have:
- The ability and desire to sell
- Excellent communication and presentation skills
- Strong commercial awareness
- A confident and determined approach
- Resilience and the ability to cope with rejection
- A high degree of self-motivation and drive
- The ability to work both independently and as part of a team
- The capacity to flourish in a competitive environment
- Fluency in a foreign language may also be helpful