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paid, face to face communication that attempts to inform and persuade prospects and customers

an individual acting for a company by performing activities which can include prospecting, communicating, servicing, and information gathering

other terms for a salesperson: sales rep, account exec, sales consultant, sales engineer, agent, district manager, marketing rep, etc.


There are many types of jobs in sales, including

  • retail sales ("over-the-counter")
  • telemarketing
  • inside sales
  • field (outside) sales

One way to classify sales jobs is with regard to whether the salesperson is an order taker or an order getter:

order getter
the salesperson who sells to new prospects and increases sales to current customers

  • e.g., field or outside salespeople

order taker
the salesperson who primarily seeks repeat sales

  • e.g., clerical or inside salespeople.

In some cases, the salesperson performs all of the functions of finding and contacting prospective buyers, assessing needs, and making persuasive demonstrations without actually asking for a sale or making a close.  Textbook reps, for example, don't sell books to your professor; they merely try to convince your professor to adopt a textbook and require students to use it in the course -- however or from whomever the student acquires the book.  The same with pharmaceutical reps who introduce physicians to new products; the rep is merely trying to persuade the doctor to write more prescriptions for that brand, but the rep never actually closes a sale.  In the pharma industry, these are called detail salespeople; in general, they are known as missionary salespeople.

missionary salespeople
a.k.a. detail salespeople; do personal selling activities except close sales - assist the producer's customers in selling to their own customers


  • canned presentation
  • AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action)
  • need-satisfaction (e.g., 7-step process)
  • relationship selling


         =====>needs analysis


  • prospecting
    developing a list of potential buyers

  • preapproach
    initial preapproach letter, telephone call, etc.

  • approach
    initial face-to-face contact with prospect during which first impressions are formed

  • needs analysis
    discovery and assessment of prospects needs

  • presentation
    presentation/demonstration of how the product fills a need or solves a problem for the prospect

  • answering questions and overcoming objections
    prospect provides feedback and salesperson attempts to further tailor the presentation for the prospect's needs

  • close
    salesperson asks the prospect to buy

  • followup
    delivery, customer service, referrals


  • straight salary
  • straight commission
  • bonus
  • combination

The highest paying sales jobs are straight commission, the lowest paying are straight salary (usually clerical sales).

Some of the highest paying and most rewarding jobs are in sales.  For example, if you can counsel people on issues of estate planning, business partnership planning, and such, then you might enjoy a six figure income as a rep with an insurance company.  The people who work those kinds of jobs like being their own boss, like setting their own schedules, and like getting paid in direct relationship to their performance.  Those jobs generally compensate with straight commission.

Most sales jobs, however, compensate with a combination of salary plus incentives (commission and/or bonus), and some compensate with straight salary.  For a company that sells outdoor signage, for example, the outside salespeople who find new restaurants and such are likely to be compensated primarily through incentives (commission); the inside salespeople who take phone orders for, say, replaceable restaurant menu strips are likely to be compensated primarily through salary.

Please beware of:

  • draw
  • bonus
  • expense account

A draw is a loan against future commissions: you can quit your job and owe them money!  It is not to be regarded as salary, even if it is a guaranteed' draw (which allows you to keep the money if you quit without making sales).  A legitimate use of a drawing account is to ease income fluctuations when straight commission is used.

A bonus is paid only if you reach some specified level of sales (quota).  A bonus is legitimate if the quota is set at an achievable point; it is used as an incentive or to direct goals.

Expenses are reimbursements for the cost of doing business: an expense account is not to be considered as income!  An expense account can, however, be considered as a perk; if you get an expense acount to take prospective customers out to dinner, this is a nice benefit if you enjoy eating out and enjoy entertaining people.  You might also be given a car for transportation rather than be reimbursed for your transportation expenses, and some people would consider this to be a job benefit.  Although it is not a benifit from the perspective that the company car merely keeps you from wearing out your own car, it is a benefit to you if it is a desirable car from your perspective.  I knew someone once who was given a sporty red Mercedes convertable because the company wanted to maintain a certain kind of image.  He really enjoyed riding around the country in that image!

15 JUL 05