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Sales Career Progression

If you are self-confident, have good communication skills and take initiative, sales may be a rewarding career choice for you. Investigate this career choice and open the door to a portable career.

By developing solid selling skills and establishing your record of accomplishments, your sales career should be portable and your opportunities plentiful, and you should have the opportunity to advance in your profession. Increase your earnings by changing jobs, gain a promotion to sales or executive management or use your business and sales skills and become an entrepreneur. You may consider starting a business, working as a manufacturer’s rep or distributor or possibly earning your living in real estate or another type of commission sales. With proven sales abilities, your career path is wide open.

You may be able to start your sales career with a high school diploma and company-provided product and sales training, although some corporations require a bachelor’s degree and experience, particularly for technical sales positions in the pharmaceutical, medical equipment and technology industries.

No set path exists to take you up the corporate ladder, but here are a few of the more common sales roles.

Customer service representatives handle customer complaints, process orders and provide information about products and services. Some sales representatives start as customer service representatives earning an average salary of $32,300 per year. Virtually every industry employs customer service reps, and you can start your career with a high school education, basic computer skills and good communication skills. You can typically find full-time, part-time, seasonal and flexible customer service positions.

Sales representatives earned a median wage of $60,530 in 2016, with compensation often based on a salary, salary-plus-commission or salary-plus-bonus plan. You could start as an inside sales representative or sales trainee, conducting business over the phone and internet, or possibly as an outside sales representative calling on customers in person. As you gain experience, you may grow into a sales executive role and your quota, territory, responsibilities and salary will most likely increase. Top tier salespeople are often among the highest paid employees in an organization.

Sales managers are typically responsible for managing a team, setting sales goals, analyzing sales data and training and mentoring sales representatives. You may be responsible for a territory, a region or even act as a national sales manager and have a personal quota as well as your team quota. Travel, long hours and pressure to achieve goals are factors to consider, but with a median $117,960 wage for sales managers, the financial rewards should definitely be a consideration.

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They typically need a bachelor’s degree, often in engineering, and must have a combination of in-depth technical knowledge and strong interpersonal skills to be successful. The median wage for sales engineers is $100,000 and long, irregular hours may be necessary to meet sales goals and keep customers satisfied.

Sales trainers use their “selling skills” through professional services – sales training, consulting, public speaking or writing and selling books. They may find employment as part of a company’s sales team, work for a firm that sells training services, start a training organization or work independently as a consultant. Trainer salaries can vary greatly depending on location, company and industry type and services offered.

Finding Employment

Check for positions with Military Spouse Employment Partnership companies and organizations interested in hiring military spouses. A recent search found sales positions available with the following companies:

Professional organizations and networking

Consider joining a professional organization in your chosen field to gain a better understanding of current industry practices and policies, and possibly continue your education through workshops and conferences. Volunteering, doing an internship and proactively networking with other professionals in your industry may help you find the connections you need to obtain an interview at your new location. Look for a mentor from the Military Spouse eMentor Program or Hiring Our Heroes Military Spouse Professional Network to receive career advice and networking assistance.

Read The Value of Professional Associations for more information on how becoming a member can help enhance your career. Joining an association can assist you in forming network connections to help you find employment.

Next steps

If you are considering getting started in a sales career, review the Research Occupations tool on MySECO. Take the Strong Interest Explorer and Myers-Briggs self-assessments to make sure your skills and interests align with this career path. Call 800-342-9647 and speak with a career coach for assistance with choosing a career path, locating a school, finding scholarship funding, searching for a job or overcoming challenges.

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