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Be a Wholesale Sales Representative: Requirements and Career Info

Explore the requirements to become a wholesale sales representative. Learn about the job description and duties, and review the step-by-step process to start a career in sales. View article »

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  • 0:04 Wholesale Sales…
  • 0:41 Career Skills & Info
  • 1:25 Step1: Education
  • 1:47 Step 2: Experience
  • 2:06 Step 3: On-the-Job Training
  • 2:29 Step 4: Certification

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Video Transcript

Wholesale Sales Representative

Wholesale sales representatives sell merchandise to businesses and other organizations. Their duties include educating customers about products, negotiating prices, and preparing sales contracts.

Wholesale sales representatives usually work full-time, though hours are irregular. Business calls and meetings usually take place during regular business hours, but preparation and paperwork may be completed anytime. Most sales reps have a measure of control over their own schedules. This career involves quite a bit of travel and can be very stressful, as income is often dependent upon sales performance.

Career Skills & Info

Degree Level Varies from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree
Degree Field Varies; may depend on the products they work with
Licensure/Certification Voluntary certification is available
Experience Previous sales experience may be beneficial for sales representatives in nontechnical positions
Key Skills Customer service and interpersonal skills, self-confidence, and physical stamina
Computer Skills Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint; customer relationship management and query software
Salary $76,190 (Median annual salary for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives, May 2015)*
Job Outlook Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives can expect a 7%, or fast-as-average, increase in employment from 2014-2024*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET Online

Step 1: Education

A high school diploma may qualify some wholesale sales representatives for non-technical positions. However, sales reps who plan to sell technical or scientific products, such as medical devices, prescription drugs, or computer equipment, usually need a bachelor's degree in a major relevant to the products they are selling, such as biology, chemistry, or engineering.

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  • Merchandising and Buying
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Step 2: Experience

Aspiring wholesale sales representatives may gain valuable sales experience by working in retail sales positions and selling products directly to customers. They can also benefit from working directly with the products they intend to sell, which allows them to explore the finer details of those items and their selling points.

Step 3: On-the-Job Training

New wholesale sales representatives are often required to complete company training programs. During training, they become familiar with all stages of product production, the customer base, and sales strategies. Trainees may also go on sales calls with experienced sales representatives. New wholesale sales representatives gradually assume more responsibility as the training proceeds.

Step 4: Certification

The Manufacturers' Representatives Education Research Foundation offers the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) credential. The CSP training program lasts for a few days and includes intense instruction on setting goals, investigating selling opportunities, managing stress, and presenting proposals. At the end of the program, candidates for certification take written and practical exams. In order to maintain their certifications, CSPs must take 20 hours of continuing education courses and submit certification fees on annual basis.

Remember, wholesale sales representatives who sell scientific or technical products will most likely need a bachelor's degree in a major related to the products they'd like to sell. As of May 2015, the median annual salary for a wholesale and manufacturing sales representative was $76,190.

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