Salesperson Job Description

Mary Gormandy White
Michelle Crowe Ritter
expert checked

Looking for information about salesperson job descriptions? Find out what skills are necessary to work in sales and learn what hiring managers look for when recruiting salespeople in this exclusive LoveToKnow Jobs interview with experienced sales professional Michelle Crowe Ritter, owner of E-Worc Web Design and sales trainer for MTI Business Solutions.

What duties and responsibilities are likely to be included in most salesperson job descriptions?

  • Ability to Prospect - Do they know how to go about finding qualified potential buyers for the product?
  • Product Knowledge - Do they have some industry, or related industry, experience or education?
  • Relationship Building - Can they and are they willing to take the steps necessary to establish and maintain client relationships? Research, communication and follow-up are all part of the relationship building process.
  • Negotiating/Securing the Order - Do they possess the strength to ask for the money and are they willing to work with the client to establish the needs of the client and make those fit the corporate structure? We don't want hard closers. We want people that help their clients buy.
  • Problem Solving - Are they defensive or do they listen to a problem fully before trying to achieve resolution?
  • Reporting - Will they communicate information back to you in a timely manner? Will they follow your company's processes and procedures? You don't have time for another prima donna.
  • Time Management /Flexibility - Are they capable of managing their time in order to get more sales-time out of every day? Are they willing to be flexible in their scheduling to accommodate client needs?

What are some of the different types of sales jobs and how are job descriptions likely to vary based on job type?

Inside Sales/Retail Sales

There are two primary types of inside salespeople. One spends most of his/her time on the phone with clients and potential customers. This person, first and foremost, must have excellent phone skills and be able to get the right people on the phone. Much of this is personality driven. The other type of inside salesperson is primarily in a retail environment where customers walk in needing your product. That customer is looking for customer service, product knowledge or price. Strong product knowledge is important in all sales environments but maybe most critical in an inside sales/retail position.

Tangible/Intangible

Some people find selling intangibles a little daunting. In an intangible sales/service environment you are selling results at the onset. The prospect must believe you will deliver what you say you will before they will commit to ownership of your product. The intangible sales process often is more time-consuming but the relationship is longer-lasting.

In tangible sales, buying a car for instance, sometimes a prospect wants the product badly enough that they'll disregard the person's knowledge or skills because they can touch and have developed a belief in the product. In tangible sales, the sales process is usually shorter but that usually requires you to be able to establish some common ground fairly quickly.

Commission/Salary/Salary +

Outside sales usually lends itself to a Commission or Salary + pay plan. Salaries are usually more fitting to an inside sales position. But, if I find any type of salesperson who has any fear of selling on a performance-based compensation plan I will most likely avoid them.

What are some of the things that salespeople have to do in order to be successful that might not be spelled out in their job descriptions?

I am huge believer in any person who asks a lot of questions. Information gathering is such a strong component of any successful sale. This is rarely viewed as a skill but may be the most important trait I seek.

Organization and record keeping can also keep a salesperson out of a lot of trouble. You need to know when you're supposed to follow up and should be able to put your hand on a phone number in 10 seconds flat. Many sales people are messy, and while they may close a lot of business, they're also the ones who lose paperwork or spend a lot of time solving problems because of a detail they missed or forgot about.

What do you wish you had known when you first started working in sales that wasn't spelled out in your job description?

I wish I hadn't been taught that the client was the enemy. Many companies establish a company vs. client mentality -- "It can't be good for everybody, so get the most you can out of them. Don't leave money on the table." It took a few years of selling to realize that I could deliver a product at a fair price for both the company and the customer and relationships would carry.

When hiring salespeople, what traits do sales managers tend to look for? A lot of organizations are hiring using personality profiles now. Strong personalities seem to win out. Those who are assertive but not aggressive and who are also structured but flexible seem to be in high demand. I also see a trend in companies hiring sales experience outside of their industry. They want to teach them their product without having to "un-teach" bad habits acquired elsewhere.

What advice/suggestions do you have for people who are thinking about pursuing a career in sales? Set yourself apart. Make them remember you. You're competing for this position. Sell them on you the same way you would sell their product to a client. Research the company before the first interview. Ask questions about their policies, processes and culture. Make sure this is a company you want to represent.

It's also a good idea to educate yourself about what it's like to work in sales. Read a book or take a class - there are a lot of training opportunities out there in relationship selling - which is extremely important in any sales environment.

With all your new skills and knowledge and your ability to extract information pertinent to selling them - they will start trying to sell you on joining their team. Then, you're ready to ask for the money.


LoveToKnow would like to thank Michelle Crowe Ritter for sharing her expertise about salesperson job descriptions and wishes her continued success in her career.

Salesperson Job Description