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Take a look around you. The room you are in, the walls, lighting, furniture, window glass, doors, flooring, the clothes you are wearing, the style of your hair. Everything around you has been sold and bought, in some way or other.

Some people look down on sales people, yet what have Tony Blair, Richard Branson, Madonna and the Pope have in common?

They are all sales people. They are selling ideologies, brands, products and theologies.

While marketing creates an environment to sell, it is sales people that bang on the door, create and develop relationships and generate the revenue that organisations rely on.

Roles in Sales

The career ladder in sales rises sharply and there is every chance of climbing rapidly.

Sales support

Working alongside the sales team the support staff are essential in assisting with administration, presentations, client support, invoicing and much more. It is also a great way to test your feet in sales whilst getting a good feel for the environment. The downside versus starting as trainee sales executive is that support staff will generally not earn any commission.

Trainee sales executives

Sales is unique in that you will find a lot of autonomy and responsibility is handed to you quite quickly. In effect you are the voice or face of your business representing them with your consumers and businesses. This is where most people will start their career by learning on the job and training. At this stage you will often be shadowing other proven sales executives and closely monitored in order to help you develop.

Sales executives

By now you have learnt the basics and proven you are ready to deal with things on your own. Sales executives are in constant daily contact with clients and are the foundation for successful business. It depends on which industry you are working within, but you are most likely to be doing your work over the phone – telesales. Usually you will be new business focussed and speaking to potential new clients or smaller existing clients.

Senior sales executives

Proven sales executives will have experience of more advanced sales skills like major account planning and negotiation techniques. senior sales executives often have responsibility for specific clients or products and are also role models to more junior staff within their teams. These are also the people that are most likely to meet clients face to face and will spend much of their time out of the office.

Assistant sales managers

Still heavily involved with clients, but also take responsibility for organising, developing and motivating teams. Management doesn’t suit everyone and indeed for some people brings additional responsibilities they would rather be without. However, for many successful sales professionals this is a great way to start developing a more commercial approach to business and to pass on what they have learnt to others.

Sales managers

Will be responsible for the sales team of an entire product or service, organising, developing and recruiting staff. It is unlikely that sales managers will be selling directly to clients themselves but will instead be overseeing this through their employees. They will though often meet key clients and pitch for large new business opportunities.

Group sales managers

Managing other managers is the key part of this role. Training and developing a strong management team is vital to any business. This person will also have overall sales responsibility for certain divisions within a business.

Sales directors

Are wholly responsible for the sales within the business and will oversee day to day operations across all sales teams and their managers.


Run entire businesses, responsible not only for sales, but also marketing, quality of working practices, production and profits.

Managing directors

Responsible for the profitability of whole groups of businesses and other commercial activities. The majority of managing directors will have started their careers within sales.

About the Author

  • About Charlotte Mullen: Charlotte Mullen is the HR and Marketing Director of the Graduate Recruitment Company. Charlotte graduated from Manchester University in 1991 with a degree in Politics and Religion. After 12 years with the Graduate Recruitment and pfj she worked her way t

Charlotte Mullen

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