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Career Profile: Outside Sales Representative

Why Is Outside Sales a Job of Tomorrow?
Sales representatives are always needed to successfully promote a company and its goods. Employment opportunities for outside sales representatives are expected to increase 9 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Outside sales representatives earn an average salary of $64,440 annually.

What Does an Outside Sales Representative Do?
Sales representatives work to promote an organization or manufacturer’s goods and services. They can work in a variety of fields, including pharmaceuticals, technical products and apparel. In fact, 50 percent of all companies in the U.S. use outside sales representatives in some capacity, according to a report from the University of Pennsylvania. All sales representatives must learn extensively about the industry in which the product they are promoting is used, as well as about the product itself. For example, pharmaceutical sales representatives selling a new line of osteoporosis medication must keep up with developments in the medical field as well as know every detail about the drug they are selling. This way, they can target the right potential buyers and inspire confidence, thereby increasing the chances of a successful sale. Sales representatives must often answer technical as well as nontechnical questions about the product, so an extensive knowledge of the product is crucial. Representatives who do not possess knowledge of the field or product may work with an expert to promote sales. Outside sales representatives travel to meet new and current clients and make their pitches during these sales calls. Some sales representatives who sell equipment may also offer to install it and train users.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become an Outside Sales Representative?
There are no formal education requirements for outside sales representatives, but many employers are now hiring applicants who have at least an associate or bachelor’s degree in the specific field of the hiring company. For example, a pharmaceutical company may prefer to hire applicants with a college degree in the medical field. An associate degree takes two years to complete, and a bachelor’s degree takes four years to earn. Certification is not necessary, but available to those looking to boost their marketability.

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