What Is a Sales Representative?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A sales representative promotes and sells a company’s product. Read on to learn the skills, education, and overall requirements for a sales representative and how you can start on a path to becoming one.

[Featured image] A sales representative speaks with a lead on a video call on her desktop computer.

A sales representative promotes and sells products to customers on behalf of a company or organisation. They pitch products to potential customers, present new ones to existing customers, and maintain existing customer accounts by ensuring a smooth sales process and customer satisfaction. Sales representatives generally must meet sales goals and report to their sales director. 

Sales representative jobs can be found in many industries, from pharmaceuticals and technology to manufacturing. An inside sales representative works from within an office, whereas an outside sales representative travels to see customers. 

Many sales representatives have flexible schedules, with work-from-home options in some cases. Sales representative jobs can be lucrative and rewarding for motivated and self-confident self-starters. For anyone who enjoys working with others, they're a great career choice.

How much is a sales representative's salary?

According to Indeed, the average annual base salary for a sales representative in India is ₹2,63,115 as of April 2024 [1]. This doesn't include bonuses or commissions, which can make up a significant portion of a sales representative's salary, depending on the products they sell or the company they work for. 

These salary averages vary widely since the commission earned depends on the product type and industry. Base salaries can also differ by the company's size, industry, experience, and other factors.  

Types of sales representatives

There are typically two types of sales representatives: inside and outside. An inside sales rep works from an office or their own home and contacts customers via phone or email. Outside sales reps are in the field, communicating with customers face-to-face.  

Sales representatives may sell various products depending on the company and industry. Some types of sales representative jobs include: 

  • Wholesale 

  • Manufacturing 

  • Scientific

  • Technical 

  • Medical/pharmaceutical  

How to become a sales representative

Though the path to becoming a sales representative can vary, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Seek entry-level positions first.

Experience in sales or customer service can help you become a sales representative, so seek out entry-level sales positions first. You can gain important sales and customer service skills in an entry-level position. From there, you can move to a role focusing more on product knowledge. 

Gaining product knowledge

The product training you'll need to become a sales representative is typically conducted by the company that hires you, though previous experience with similar products certainly helps. This is because each company generally has its own sales department with specific sales goals, target market, and unique products.


Gain industry knowledge.

Consider the industry where you'd like to work and research sales representative job requirements and products. Once you've gained education and experience in sales and customer service and know your target organisation or company, you'll be ready to craft a resume tailored to your preferred industry.

Get a degree.

If you're interested in sales, you should complete 10+2 secondary education emphasising accountancy, economics, and/or finance. This will prepare you for university entrance exams. To become a sales representative, you may want to get one of the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Commerce (BCom)

  • BCom Accounts and Finance

  • BCom Finance

  • BCom Marketing

  • BCom Sales and Marketing

Sales representatives who wish to advance their careers may pursue a master's degree in any of the above-mentioned fields or a postgraduate diploma in business management (PGDBM).

Get certified.

You may wish to obtain sales-related certifications to boost your job marketability. Depending on the industry or product, companies may also request sales representatives obtain specialty certifications, additional off-site training, or manufacturer training. Some products require more in-depth knowledge and formal training. You can also shadow another sales representative better to understand the product(s) and sales process. 

Sales representative skills

A sales representative acts as a bridge between a customer and a company. You need to have a thorough understanding of the product you're selling and the customer to whom you're selling it. It's important to strike a balance with a customer so that you can close a sale without being overly assertive. 

Job-specific skills

  • Knowledge of CRM software

  • Product knowledge 

  • Ability to find leads and network

  • Cold calling 

  • Customer acquisition 

  • Knowledge of the sales pipeline 

Workplace skills

  • Critical thinking 

  • Communication 

  • Confidence 

  • Charisma 

  • Good listener 

  • Leadership 

  • Negotiation

  • Presentation skills

  • Problem-solving ability

Get started in sales

Are you interested in a career in sales? Start building job-ready skills with the Sales Development Representative Professional Certificates from Salesforce on Coursera. Learn at your own pace as you prepare for high-demand roles in tech sales.

Article sources

  1. Indeed. "Sales Representative Salary in India, https://in.indeed.com/career/sales-representative/salaries." Accessed May 10, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.