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Working In The Sales Industry

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An overview of the industry

If you consider yourself to be a strong communicator, maybe even a bit of a smooth-talker, a career in the sales industry could be the ideal path for you. As a school-leaver an apprenticeship is perfect to help you develop the skills for a successful career - and be earning money while you do it!

Sales offers a huge range of work because virtually every sector relies upon it in some way. Some examples of areas of sales include:

  • Telesales

  • Media sales

  • Product sales

  • FMCG

This means that there’s room to choose something that truly interests you and you are passionate about. It also means that the transferable skills that you’ll develop as a salesperson can pave the way for a hugely varied career.

There are two main types of sales roles: Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). B2B is more corporate and involves selling to companies who may use the service or sell it on themselves. B2C means you are selling directly to the individual who is going to use that product.

Although your communication skills are key, the industry welcomes a huge range of personalities and communications styles because, well, there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to closing a sale. A salesroom will be full of all different kinds of people and with an apprenticeship programme you’ll be given structured training to help you bring out the best of your skills and sell whichever product or service that you’re working for.

For most companies, sales are at the very heart of the business. For this reason, there’s usually no shortage of opportunities and if you have the right skills, you’ll do well. Sales is often a performance-based role too, which means that on top of your salary you are likely to earn a commission based on how much you sell and what your targets are. If you fancy being in control of how much money you can earn and thrive in target-driven environments, you should check out some of our sales apprenticeships.

The sales industry is undergoing a huge shift with the rise in e-commerce and much of the work can be done digitally. While there are still some roles that will require travel to attend conferences and meet with clients, much sales work can be done over the phone or through digital communications.

Skills & interests required

Perhaps the top skill for a career in sales is communication; the ones who are the most successful are able to adapt their communications slightly depending on their potential customer, which is important to help maximise the likelihood of them buying the product or service.

It will also help to be enthusiastic and interested in the product you’re selling. You will need to remain up-to-date with it and invest time into research, which will come much more easily if you’re interested to begin with!

You’ll need to be pretty resilient to work in sales because, unfortunately, rejection is part and parcel of the job. What’s important is being able to brush yourself off and quickly move on.

Other skills and interested that will help you in the sales industry include:

Typical Career Progression Routes for School Leavers

You may spend a year or two as a sales apprentice before moving into an entry-level position as an executive. In time, you will be promoted to a manager or maybe even a director.

The exact title that you receive will be entirely dependant upon the company that you work for and the structure that they have.

Tips for getting into the field

Try getting some work experience to ascertain whether you enjoy working within this industry. It’ll also make your application stand out.

If you’ve ever had any customer service experiences be sure to highlight them on your CV as they’re a great example of using your communication skills in a professional setting.

Finally, if you’ve got a particular industry in mind that you’d want to work in within sales - technology, for example - do your research into industry trends and statistics. Be sure to know your stuff!

Earning potential

The earning potential within sales varies widely because of the different methods of payment that exists for salespeople. Some work just on a salary, whereas others work purely on commission and their pay is a direct result of their performance. Most, however, fall somewhere in the middle, with a basic salary that is guaranteed with a commission incentive for hitting targets.

As an apprentice you could be on anything from £12,000-£17,000, which is likely to increase to around £20,000-£24,000 after completing the programme. As you take on more responsibilities and potentially become a manager your salary could go up to £30,000-£35,000. With commission bonuses, it’s possible to double these salaries.

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

There are not usually any formal education requirements for a sales apprenticeship as this role really is all about personality. However, some schemes may require a minimum number of UCAS points - check the job listing carefully for this information.

Industry bodies

Chartered Institute of Marketing
Institute of Sales and Marketing Management