How to Become a Sales Executive

Sales Executive

A sales executive seeks out new clients and nurtures relationships with existing customers. They aim to make sales on their company’s product or service. It is a goal-focused role, and the typical sales executive will be very extroverted.

A sales executive promotes a company’s products and makes sales to customers or other businesses. They are involved in the entire process of a sale of a product or service, from initially reaching out to a client, to closing the deal. 

Sales executives can work in many industries, the most popular being: consumer goods, technical, medical, business consulting, advertising, and financial. They will either work on a business to customer (B2C) basis, or business to business (B2B) basis and may be employed in a national or international company. 

The duties of being a sales executive can vary depending on whether they are working B2C or B2B, but they generally entail: 

  • Gathering a database of potential customers. 
  • Reaching out to new customers, either by cold calling or networking at various events.
  • Persuading customers to utilize their product or service by presenting it in a positive light. 
  • Acting as the mediator between customers and the company. 
  • Arranging bespoke arrangements for some customers. 
  • Answering any questions about the product or service on offer. 
  • Attending networking events where the candidate will represent the company. 

Many sales executives are graduates – but it is certainly not essential to have a degree. Relevant subjects include business, marketing, and computing, but any graduate can train to become a sales executive. Candidates working in international companies will find having education or fluency in a modern foreign language particularly useful. Medical and technical sales companies may require specific qualifications. 

Graduate training programmes are common in this field. In these programmes, junior employees will receive all necessary training and a base salary from a particular company. They will be expected to stay with the company for a set amount of time in return for the training. 

For non-graduates, it is possible to apply for entry-level positions. Candidates should demonstrate an extroverted personality and resilient attitude, as well as knowledge of the sales industry. Work experience in a customer-focused role, such as working in a shop or a restaurant, is beneficial. Experience in a sales-focused role will further strengthen a candidate’s application.

Most sales executive recruiters consider having the right personality to be far more significant than official qualifications. 

Working in sales is very target-driven so it can be a very high-pressure environment. The ideal candidate would need to be able to cope well with stress. They should also be excellent communicators, have a friendly and trustworthy personality, be able to cope with rejection, and have both teamwork skills and the ability to work independently. 

Sales executives will often be required to travel and might need to spend time away from home on business trips. Many job listings will require their sales executives to have a full, clean driving licence. 

There is scope for career and salary progression when becoming a sales executive. Sales executives can earn well with high commission rates. If they are promoted to an area sales manager, a national sales manager, or a sales director, their base wage will increase. Professionals in this field often move companies to secure promotions. 

Often, veteran sales executives move into training or recruiting. Experience as a sales executive can also be transferred to other fields, including advertising, marketing, commercial management, and PR. 

What degree is most commonly held by a Sales Executive ?

  • Double Degree in Marketing and Advertising
  • Bachelors of Financial Marketing
  • Communication and Media Studies
  • Diploma in Property Services
  • Bachelor of Applied Financial Planning
  • Hospitality Administration/ Management

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: High
  Many sales executive job openings are in international companies, so the right candidate has a good chance of securing a job abroad. Their application would be strengthened if they can speak the local language and know about its culture. Some sales executives may also be able to enjoy international travel or remote work as part of their job.

What is the Salary of a Sales Executive ?

Experience Average salary | year
Sales Executive 1-3 yrs $40,000 £34,000 $38,821
Sales Manager 3-5 yrs $57,087 £42,500 $61,005
Sales Director 5-10 yrs $78,900 £90,000 $94,280

What skills are needed to become a Sales Executive ?

  • Sales
  • Management
  • Business Development
  • Customer Service
  • Account Management
  • Leadership
  • Sales Management
  • Marketing
  • New Business Development
  • Negotiation
  • Microsoft Office
  • Sales Process
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Strategic Planning
  • Team Leadership
  • Solution Selling
  • Direct Sales
  • Business Strategy
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Strategy
  • Social Media
  • Sales Operations
  • CRM

Sales Executive courses

Sales knowledge is crucial for this role, so prospective candidates would benefit from taking some extra courses in sales. On FutureLearn, we have lots of courses available to help candidates get a head start in this career. Check out this on that focuses on entrepreneurial sales.
  • The Digital Economy: Selling Through Customer Insight

    Uncover new perspectives on the role and behaviour of your customers to enhance your sales and marketing

  • Business Fundamentals: Customer Engagement

    Learn how to design business and marketing activities to engage customers through relationships instead of one-off sales

  • Drafting and Negotiating Commercial Contracts: A guide to contract law for non-lawyers

    How to effectively draft and negotiate commercial contracts

Relevant Microcredential courses

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