What Does a Sales Assistant Do? A Closer Look at This Entry-Level Sales Springboard (2023)

What Does a Sales Assistant Do? A Closer Look at This Entry-Level Sales Springboard (1)

You’ve always been excited by a challenge. When someone disagrees with you, it’s an opportunity to flash your charm, throw in a few well-made points and help someone come around to your point of view. A career in sales might be a good fit for your tenacity and confidence, and an opportunity to develop as negotiator and a shrewd business mind.

Sales is a dynamic and fast-paced field. To be a successful salesperson, you need to think creatively, work well with a diverse range of people, and have a thorough understanding of your product and market.

For the right kind of worker, a career in sales promises to never be boring. A successful sales career can also bring with it a high financial reward. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives in 2018 was $61,660—and $124,220 for sales managers.1 Of course, you’ll need to climb the career ladder to reach the level of a sales manager—so how do you get there?

One common first step is through building experience as a sales assistant. In this article we’ll talk about what sales assistants typically do and how this role can help set the stage for a sales career.

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What is a sales assistant?

A sales assistant is an entry level position on a sales team. Often, a sales assistant works on the sales floor supporting other members of a sales team as they negotiate deals and manage customer questions and needs. This work can include answering phone calls and emails, providing additional logistical and administrative aid, facilitating the relationship between a sales and production department, assisting customers, and processing orders. The day to day work of a sales assistant is dependent on the needs of the sales team. A sales assistant must be flexible and responsive.

Even in an entry-level position, working as a sales assistant requires the same interpersonal skillset that allows sales professionals to meet their goals. Sales assistants often work closely with clients, drawing on critical thinking, active listening and social perceptiveness to provide good service.

“I loved meeting new people from all over the world and forming new relationships with clients and colleagues,” says Beverly Friedmann, whose experience as a sales assistant led to her current work as Content and Web Sales Manager for ReviewingThis. “It is a truly invaluable part of any sales role.”

Where do sales assistants work?

There are many settings that require sales assistants—this is particularly true for industries selling more complex or technical goods or services. Technology, pharmaceuticals, financial tech and consumer packaged goods are only a few of the industries that depend on sales workers to function. As a sales assistant, you have a unique opportunity to learn about your product from within the industry and pick up on habits of established sales professionals.

Francis Côté now works as the co-owner and sales manager at Ideal Fence. He began his career by installing fences during college before working his way into a sales role and beyond. Côté says he drew on the knowledge he built as a sales assistant and took a company that made less than $100,000 in contract sales to a business taking in more than $2.5 million in sales.

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Working in sales offers unique opportunities for advancement. With a commitment to whatever product you work with, you have the opportunity to build a wide client base and a more influential company.

What are the opportunities open to a sales assistant?

“Those who are consistently successful in sales can write their own ticket,” says Côté.

Experience as a sales assistant can open doors that would otherwise be closed to someone outside the industry. “Corporations need numbers, and they don’t like to waste money on hiring and training unless they must. A proven track record, industry knowledge and established contacts make salespeople indispensable, and can lead to advancement.”

Sales is a field that thrives on human relationships. A sales assistant who nurtures their customer and professional relationships is well positioned to advance to higher-level roles in sales. For instance, if you work for an organization that sells materials to a company that builds and sells its own products, you have the opportunity to not only impress within your own organization, but also make connections and potentially earn recommendations for sales roles within the organizations you’re selling to. Networking is a natural part of the job that can lead to unexpected opportunities.

Friedmann says hard working sales assistants have strong prospects for continuing on into fields like sales and marketing as they continue building relationships.

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“They can become sales managers, regional managers, marketing professionals, and even pivot their careers into content management and other related fields,” Friedmann says.

What skills do you need to be a sales assistant?

Working in sales is all about thriving in a dynamic work environment. A sales assistant needs to enjoy an ever changing workplace and stay aware of new customer expectations.

“The sales landscape has dramatically changed in the last 10-15 years,” Côté says. “The pace is faster, and consumers generally prefer to communicate over email rather than phone.”

Additionally, Côté says familiarity with customer relationship management (CRM) software is a big plus for sales professionals as it helps them maintain and build relationships with clients by storing and organizing important customer information.

In the age of technology, sales workers need to stay ahead of new trends such as artificial intelligence as a customer interface.

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“Sales will change over the next several years as technology evolves, and those working in the industry will evolve alongside these shifts,” says Friedmann. “As we see the rise in AI and other technological advancements, salespeople will generally need to focus even more on providing an outstanding customer experience for the experiential factor consumers crave.”

Beyond a comfort level with technology, sales assistants need to be organized, dependable and excellent communicators. They’re often facilitating sales calls, filing order paperwork and following up with additional information—the last thing a salesperson wants is to have a potential customer relationship sour because of a mistake in these areas.

What training and education do you need to work as a sales assistant?

When it comes to the training and education needed to become a sales assistant, the answer can vary quite a bit depending on employer preferences and the industry you’re pursuing this role in. Our analysis of the minimum required education for over 30,000 sales assistant job postings reflects that—51.5 percent were seeking those with a high school diploma, while the rest were seeking candidates with an associate’s degree or higher.2

Roles selling higher-end technical products are often more lucrative—and as a result, more sought-after—so employers for these positions may be more selective about their candidate pool.

Is a sales career in your future?

“Ultimately, sales is a very goal-driven vocation,” says Cole. “In my experience, some people are not meant for it at all, while others excel tremendously.”

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If you’re leaning toward pursuing a sales career, a sales assistant position can be an excellent starting point. You’ll build experience, learn the ropes of the sales process and have a chance to plan your next steps. For many those next steps include pursuing a college education. Check out our article, “9 Ways a Marketing Degree Can Boost Your Sales Career,” to learn more about the potential benefits.

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed October, 2019] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 30,081 sales assistant job postings, October 9, 2018 – October 8, 2019).


What do sales assistants do? ›

Sales Assistant duties include selling, restocking and merchandising. The goal is to provide high class customer service and to increase company's growth and revenue through sales maximisation.

How do you answer a sales assistant interview question? ›

Question what does customer. Service mean to you to me customer service means many different things

What skills do you need to be a sales assistant? ›

You'll need:
  • customer service skills.
  • the ability to work well with others.
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
  • sensitivity and understanding.
  • persuading and negotiating skills.
  • the ability to use your initiative.
  • excellent verbal communication skills.

What should a sales assistant say? ›

Useful Phrases for Sales Assistants
Good morning.
By the way, we also have a…that would go well with your….
If you're looking for something versatile, then let me show you….
I think that we may have just the item for you!
Would you…like to try on our new…?
65 more rows

How do you describe sales assistant on resume? ›

Greeted customers with a friendly and helpful attitude. Answered any questions regarding inventory, sales, and promotions. Carefully and accurately rang up items and neatly packed customer bags. Worked well with other employees to ensure smooth processes.

What can I bring to the role sales assistant? ›

A good sales assistant would be able to communicate proficiently, listen effectively and have a distinct ability to read people. Sales assistants must be able to discern people and identify their needs, issues and complaints.

Why should we hire you answer sales assistant? ›

“Honestly, I possess all the skills and experience that you're looking for. I'm pretty confident that I am the best candidate for this job role. It's not just my background in the past projects, but also my people skills, which will be applicable in this position.

Why should we hire you answer best? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

How do I prepare for a sales interview with no experience? ›

5 Tips To Land An Entry-Level Sales Job With No Experience
  1. 1 – Study-up On The Company. ...
  2. 2 – Highlight Transferable Skills. ...
  3. 3 – Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse! ...
  4. 4 – Show You're Open To Learning. ...
  5. 5 – Research Industry Lingo.

How do I sell as a sales assistant? ›

How to be a good sales associate
  1. Greet customers. Whether you see customers enter the store or spot them walking around looking at products, welcome them to the store. ...
  2. Determine their needs. ...
  3. Listen attentively. ...
  4. Provide strategic answers. ...
  5. Make product recommendations.

What makes you interested in applying for this role? ›

I see this opportunity as a way to contribute to an exciting/forward-thinking/fast-moving company/industry, and I feel I can do so by/with my …” “I feel my skills are particularly well-suited to this position because …” “I believe I have the type of knowledge to succeed in this role and at the company because …”

What are the top 3 things a sales associate should possess? ›

Sales Associate Skills
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Experience With CRM or POS Software. ...
  • Customer-Focused Mindset. ...
  • Deep Knowledge in Product or Inventory. ...
  • Genuine Enthusiasm for the Company and Products. ...
  • Creative Problem Solving & Decision Making When Dealing With Customer Issues. ...
  • Empathic Attitude.
2 Jul 2021

How do you close a sale? ›

6 Tips to Close a Sale Quickly and Effectively (How to Close Deals in B2B Sales)
  1. Identify the Decision-Maker and Start a Conversation. ...
  2. Accurately Qualify Your Prospects (and Their Pain Points) ...
  3. Pitch Your Solution (Not Just the Product) ...
  4. Create a Sense of Urgency. ...
  5. Overcome Their Objections.
8 Sept 2022

Why do you want to work in sales answer? ›

"Sales suits me well. It's a field that aligns well with my skills, interests, and disposition. I have excellent interpersonal skills, and I'm passionate about relationship-building and customer service. Those traits have made me an effective salesperson — and simply put, I enjoy doing things I do well."

How can I make my sales assistant sound good? ›

Communication and customer service skills to deal with clients and keep them happy. Attention to details to display the products at their best and keep the shop floor clean and tidy. Technical skills for operating point of sales systems and stock checking systems. Numeracy skills for customer transactions.

What is a sales assistant salary? ›

The average sales assistant salary in South Africa is R 180 000 per year or R 92.31 per hour. Entry-level positions start at R 150 000 per year, while most experienced workers make up to R 540 000 per year.

What are the duties of a sales person? ›

Salesperson Responsibilities:
  • Greet customers.
  • Help customers find items in the store.
  • Check for stock at other branches or order requested stock for customers.
  • Provide customers with information about items.
  • Ring up purchases.
  • Elevate complaints to management.
  • Keep track of inventory.

How do you answer interview questions? ›

Be honest and succinct with your responses. Tell the truth in as positive a manner as possible, and don't discuss things or events in a negative fashion. Long answers are less effective than concise responses and tend to make interviewers suspicious.

How should I present myself in an interview? ›

A Quick Guide On How To Introduce Yourself In An Interview
  1. Start by researching the company and your interviewers.
  2. Dress appropriately for the interview.
  3. Avoid distractions and keep eye contact.
  4. Be confident and comfortable.
  5. Be aware of body language.
  6. Prepare what to say.
  7. Rehearse your introduction with a friend.

How do you sell a pen in an interview? ›

Tips and tricks to “sell me this pen”
  1. Be positive. An important part of answering "sell me this pen" is to be positive. ...
  2. Ask direct questions. ...
  3. Relate the pen to a larger concept or idea. ...
  4. Relate the pen to the interviewer's specific needs. ...
  5. Close by asking them to purchase the pen.

How much do sales assistants earn? ›

The average sales assistant salary in South Africa is R 180 000 per year or R 92.31 per hour. Entry-level positions start at R 149 280 per year, while most experienced workers make up to R 540 000 per year.

Is being a sales assistant hard? ›

Hardest part of being a Sales Assistant

So you'll sometimes need to have some serious patience. And because this isn't an office job, Sales Assistants spend most of the day on their feet. “You can spend long hours on your feet and it can get really tiring – plus some customers can be really rude!”

What is the difference between a sales associate and a sales assistant? ›

In an associate position, your responsibilities may include customer service, organizing presentations, and social media management. On the other hand, assistants often manage teams, either internally like within a retail shop, or possibly global teams.

How many hours does a sales assistant work? ›

Hours. In a full-time job you would normally work between 35 and 40 hours a week, possibly including weekends and evenings.


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