What is a Retail Sales Worker

To become a Sales Worker you need special knowledge or skills. To discover if this career is for you, take one of our quizzes.

Typically, there are no formal education requirements for retail sales workers. Most receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months. The median hourly wage for retail salespersons was $10.47 in May 2015. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.35, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $19.33.

Sales Worker Salary

  • Average Annual Salary: $24,220
  • Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,030,000

Sales Worker – Education

In general, there no official education requirements that apply to retail sales workers. Most sales workers are receiving on-the-job instruction and training for a few weeks or several months. Most employers, though, want employees who are holding at last a high school or equivalent credential, and this applies specifically to companies who retail high-tech products or ‘big-ticket’ things like cars or electronics. Check out if this professional direction is good for you and take a career personality test.

Larger stores and big retail chains usually have their own training programs that will take several days. During these training sessions, topics that are addressed include customer service, the store’s policies and procedures, security, and how to work with the cash register system.

Employees may receive additional training that relates to the product range that is being sold. Salespersons who are working in the cosmetics section may receive additional instruction on product types the store is offering, and what persons may benefit best from which product. Likewise, persons who are selling computers may receive instruction about all sorts of technical options and differences between certain products.

Sales Worker – The Job

A career in sales involves a lot more than mere selling and provides rewards beyond just a good income. Sales is a challenging and exciting field that will allow you to meet new people, learn new skills, acquire new information, and find solid employment without necessarily needing a post-secondary degree. Talented, confident salespeople are always in demand, and those who manage to hone their skills will be able to adapt them to any sales market.

Sales is a broad field and can involve diverse professional activities. Good companies offer a comprehensive training program that may include extensive resource materials, individual coaching from an expert salesperson, and regular constructive feedback from company managers. Once such a course has been completed, a professional salesperson will be expected to conduct on-going research into both products and the marketing industry itself; build and maintain a network of clients; set sales goals and devise marketing strategies; determine the needs of customers; and assess customer satisfaction.

A salesperson may need to use either direct or indirect sales techniques or both, and may also have to produce a variety of different computer-generated documents. These and other dynamic activities make every day of a salesperson’s work week different from the last.

Integrity is key

Certain personality traits and skills are an advantage in any sales profession. The most essential trait one must possess is the desire to sell. Other important traits include creative and positive thinking, a general liking of other people, tenacity, curiosity, intelligence, self-confidence, an ability to handle rejection, and being achievement-oriented.

The core competencies of a successful salesperson include

  • excellent communication skills
  • an ability to conduct extensive research
  • refined problem-solving capabilities, and
  • highly developed critical thinking skills

A good salesperson must be self-motivated and highly organized, socially perceptive, an active listener, a good negotiator, service-oriented, polite and caring, and adept in the art of persuasion. Top salespeople have tremendous integrity, and are able to keep both their companies’ and their customers’ best interests in mind.

There is an enormous range of sales positions to choose from, from selling tiny, tangible products to selling businesses large and small. You can even sell ideas. The financial payoffs in many sales careers can be immense, and the workweek doesn’t need to be excessively long. It is a demanding career, but if the work appeals to you and you have the basic traits and skills, it can be deeply rewarding.

Working in Retail

Everybody knows just how much of a difference the retail staff can have on your shopping experience. If you are assisted by someone attentive and helpful, your image of the shop as a whole will invariably rise. If you have a bad experience, however, you are highly likely never to return again. It’s little surprise, then, that with so much at stake, shop bosses will want to ensure that they have filled their retail jobs with the best possible staff around.

So what, then, makes a good retail worker and are you cut out for the job?

  • Be friendly!

First and foremost, staff in a shop have to be friendly. If you stand around looking surly and unhelpful, people will be reluctant to approach you. This could mean they put their potential purchases down and head to another shop on the high street. Being friendly, affable and approachable means that people will feel more at ease coming to speak to you; therefore more likely to part with their cash too.

  • Look after your appearance

When working in a shop, you are the physical embodiment of what it stands for and how it wants to appear to the general public. If you are wearing creased, dirty or smelly clothes, you are giving over that image not just of yourself but also of the store, making it appear to be a shoddy place in which to spend money.

  • Be a people-person

Interaction is what makes those in retail really love their jobs, as it allows them to talk with members of the general public all day. Embrace this and have a chat with those you come across. Whilst you will have a job to do, conversing with your customers while you do it is a great way of building up rapport and they will often come back, sometimes even just to see you again.

So whilst jobs in retail may seem commonplace, people who do it well are not and managers will do all they can to find those who do it well; making them permanent members of the team.

Working in Telesales

Being a part of a telesales team is a rewarding and challenging experience. You and your colleagues are the front line of service for a company and will learn many valuable skills whilst working in telesales. These skills are transferable and will carry from one position to the next. To many, telesales jobs are a rite of passage on the career ladder. On day one it can be pretty scary. Whether it’s a small or large company, you are the front line of the business operations and the pressure may feel great first.

A corporate induction into the business is a great way for you to settle in and understand your role and value within the company. It’s also the first stepping stone in being able to contribute to the workplace, by learning the goals of your employer.

Through day-to-day training material and industry publications and emails, you will understand and strive to learn about the latest business developments – something which is respected any employer. As well as a job description of your day-to-day tasks, your technical training will include software training. It is likely that you will never have used the custom software presented to you, but this grants an ideal opportunity to learn new computing systems that may be used in your next occupation.

Customer Relationship Management software is effectively a database of clients and their relationships to one another that includes their service or product history and contact details. This kind of software is popular within all industries.

Your writing and keyboard skills should also improve daily. Being able to make notes or take down information quickly but accurately is an extremely important part of the job. You will gain confidence by talking to a range of people from all positions and backgrounds.

You will be familiar with laws governing the telesales workplace like the Data Protection Act 1998, which respects the rights of privacy of the customers. All businesses are governed by this law, alongside others such as health and safety and personnel laws. Having an understanding of law in the workplace always remains relevant.

The telephone skills that you acquire will be second to none. The ability to extract or explainformation to a customer in a courteous, controlled and measured manner should stay with you for life. And multi-tasking is an invaluable skill; talking and typing simultaneously is quickly gained through practice and routine.