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Become a Retail Sales Consultant: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a retail sales consultant. Learn about the job description and duties, and find out how to start a career in retail sales. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Retail Sales Consultant?

A retail sales consultant is a type of retail salesperson. Positions using the term 'consultant' are often found in the telecommunications industry, where workers consult with customers and sell products such as cell phones and wireless service plans based on customers' wants and needs. Regardless of the employing industry, retail sales consultants interact with customers, promote products, and aim to make sales and earn commissions. While retail sales consultants are common in the telecommunications industry, businesses such as clothing stores or television service providers may employ these workers as well.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; an associate's or bachelor's degree is beneficial
Experience Typically 1-3 years of experience in sales and customer service
Key Skills Strong communication, sales, and customer service skills; positive and motivated attitude; basic computer skills
Median Salary (2015) $21,780 (for retail salespersons)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Steps

Now let's check out the career steps for retail sales consultants.

Step 1: Better Understand the Profession

Retail sales consultants work on a sales floor, where they approach customers, determine their needs, and suggest products or services to meet those needs. Consultants must be well versed in the technical specifications and functions of the products they sell, since they often demonstrate items, such as smartphones, to customers. Beyond their sales duties, consultants may be responsible for managing inventory, providing customer service, opening and closing the store, tidying the showroom, and filling out paperwork.

Step 2: Complete Education

Most job openings for retail sales consultants have low or no education requirements, but a high school diploma or the equivalent is often preferred. However, a 2-year or 4-year college degree is advisable for those who want to eventually attain management positions in the sales field. Prospective supervisors of sales workers may want to earn a degree in business, management, or the social sciences. In general, on-the-job training and experience are more important for retail sales consultants than formal education.

To get an idea of the field, begin working in the sales field while still in school. Many employers prefer applicants for retail sales consultant positions to have 1-3 years of experience in customer service or sales. Individuals who aspire to become retail sales consultants may start gaining basic retail experience as young as 14. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 14-year-olds are allowed to work in retail stores as long as hours are limited. By working in sales, candidates can begin learning the various operations of retail stores and the duties of sales staff.

Step 3: Obtain a Retail Sales Consultant Position

Individuals who have gained the proper amount of relevant experience in the retail industry may then begin looking for retail sales consultant positions. These positions may require candidates to stand on their feet for extended periods of time and possess basic computer skills. To better serve a diverse clientele, some employers prefer to hire bilingual retail sales consultants as well.

Step 4: Complete On-the-Job Training

Once retail sales consultant positions are attained, new employees are commonly required to complete on-the-job training for further advancement. This training helps retail sales consultants become familiar with products and their features. Additionally, individual stores have different basic operations, such as the use of the cash register system or the security procedures for shoplifters, that employees must learn. Experienced or veteran employees may conduct training for new retail sales consultants in small stores. Large stores and chains may have structured, multi-session training programs that new hires participate in during their first days of work.

To recap, with a high school diploma and experience, a retail consultant can earn about $22,000 a year to interact with customers, promote products, and aim to make sales and earn commissions.

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