Sales & Commercial

Latest Jobs in Sales & Commercial

All businesses need to make sales to make a profit. Many of them maximise their sales by employing teams to persuade prospective clients and current clients to either buy their services or to buy more of them. Sales to public-sector organisations, such as the supply of computer software to the Government, are usually determined by tendering, meaning that sales personnel involved are required to have experience in bid writing, and also to be fully aware of how to best position themselves during each stage of the tendering process.

Sales can be divided into two categories - inside and outside sales. Inside sales are quite literally, sales which can be made inside an office. This covers approaches by phone, email and increasingly social media. Outside sales involve a representative having to leave the office and approach a prospect or client in person. Trade exhibitions and business networking breakfasts, dinners and lunches are ideal forums for these approaches. 

Usually, careers in sales will begin in an office setting and employees will be expected to call as many prospects and clients as possible each day. Then they will progress to the networking circuit. Commercial roles often revolve around the pursuit of high-value B2B sales in corporate settings. Salaries in sales can often start off low but then increase exponentially with commissions based on the value of sales that an employee generates each year. High performers are often rewarded with other benefits, such as honorary lunches or paid holidays to fantastic locations around the world (like Las Vegas). 

Field Sales - Field Sales involves meeting directly with members of the public at stalls in town centres or by knocking on their doors, and selling them great products and services. If you’re confident and enjoy speaking to a wide variety of people, you’ll earn a lot from this role. Many field sales jobs don’t have a salary and are paid by commission only. If you perform you can earn up to £30k in your first year. It can often take several weeks, if not months of persistence to make your first door-to-door sale. If you’re willing to put in the time required to perfect your technique and knock on as many doors as possible or speak to as many shoppers as possible, then eventually, you’ll start earning commissions and building your sales career. 

Telesales - Often an entry-level position for individuals interested in a career in sales but lacking in previous (or any) industry experience, telesales can be ruthlessly competitive, but highly rewarding if you exceed your targets. These jobs are usually based in call centres and will involve you phoning hundreds of potential customers every day to sell them products or services. Many of these calls are cold calls, meaning that an individual has no idea that you are going to phone them and might never have heard of the company that you’re calling on behalf of before. Persuading them that your products and services are not only genuine but are essential purchases for them right now, is one of the most difficult sells that you will ever make. But that’s the point. If you can hit your targets in a call centre, you can make your targets look like a distant memory in corporate settings. This job is excellent training for a future career in sales. Salaries start low (sometimes 14k-15k) but can exceed 20k with commissions. Success in them often leads to fast-tracked promotion to other sales roles. 

Sales Executive - This is a typical entry-level sales job for candidates with previous industry experience. From day one you’ll be placed right in the thick of the sales process and you’ll interact with many prospects and clients on a daily basis. Sell lots and you’ll go far. Sell nothing and you’ll go home. The atmosphere is competitive but the rewards are worth every moment of it. Good managers will help you to work on any areas that you may be struggling with so that you can put them behind you and develop your skills to a point where you are constantly hitting and sometimes exceeding your KPIs. What’s important is that you always show up to work early and try your hardest to sell as much as you possibly can every day. 

As well as booking appointments by phone and email, sales executives are often also required to attend meetings, conferences and trade exhibitions, in order to further consolidate and expand their client base. Salaries may start off at around 15k at most companies or may be over 20k if you are working for a large business. That being said commission is excellent. High performers often take-home salaries between 35-50k before being promoted to a more senior role with a higher salary and more generous benefits. 

Sales Manager - A sales manager is responsible for overseeing teams of executives and ensuring that they hit their targets. If your team hit and exceed all of their targets, your salary can hit or exceed £80k. This job is not for people who don’t like paperwork, as targets will be set based on sales forecasts that you set and reports that you prepare. Managers need to know each of their team members personally so that they know exactly how to motivate them and get the best out of them every day. Making the effort to understand how people feel, rather than just bombarding them with targets and expecting everyone to find exactly the same route to those targets, will win you enormous appreciation and respect from your team. The role of a Sales Manager is hugely demanding but also hugely rewarding if you get it right. 

Sales Director - Sales Directors work on the big picture. They coordinate all sales activities to ensure that they are pushing the company towards its strategic, long-term goals and are resulting in premium account wins. This role also involves the management of larger corporate sales and tenders for high-value, multi-year contracts, often with public-sector clients. A quality Sales Director often makes the difference between a company just making enough to pay the bills, and a company breaking through new ceilings to achieve record profitability. 

Responsibility for an overall marketing strategy is also part of the life of a Sales Director, as is sales forecasting across entire regions. Despite the enormous pressure that this job brings, it provides a fantastic opportunity for talented individuals to use their creativity to change the way that their company does business forever. Basic salary for these roles is often at least £40k- 50k and comes with uncapped commission. For the best candidates, this represents an incredible earning potential.

As well as being crucial to the business and commercial world in general, here are a few of the sectors in which sales staff are particularly important: 

FMCG - Great consumer brands need great salespeople to market their products to retailers around the world. This work will often involve building relationships with various stakeholders and could also stretch into more general marketing responsibilities. If you can mix great people skills and creative thinking with a sharp focus on the company’s bottom line, you’ll do very well in this industry.
Importers and exporters operating in this sector also rely on talented sales teams to forge the relationships with foreign distributors, retailers and customers who will build their brand overseas. This role uses similar skills as other FMCG sales roles but often involves significantly more international travel. 

Media - Sales of newspapers have been in sharp decline for years. Last year, one of the country’s most popular newspapers, The Daily Mail, reported a decline in circulation of over 11%. Significantly reduced circulation means that media outlets are reliant on talented sales personnel to sell advertising space in print and particularly online in order to survive. Much of your day will be spent on the phone to some of the country’s biggest businesses negotiating the best possible price for available advertising space. Very often, this role is carried out by agencies rather than by the newspapers themselves. If you love pressure, relish the prospect of negotiating, and want to work with some of the biggest brands in the world to place adverts that will be seen by millions of people, then a media sales role would be perfect for you. 

Recruitment - Sales skills are essential to winning clients in recruitment. Let’s say you want to work with a huge global brand. How would you progress from calling the switchboard, to speaking with the CEO and then becoming one of that company’s official suppliers? The answer is that you would need sensationally persuasive telephone skills, as well as great research skills to know what to say to make an instant impression on each of the gatekeepers who you’ll be passed through, before getting the opportunity to make an instant impression on the CEO. If you are able to sell effectively to C-Level staff, then you will earn huge commissions, fees and salary from a career in recruitment. 

Sports/Entertainment - Selling packages to sponsors finances much of the growth of this industry. Whether you are working for a venue, festival, sports team, or record label, the success of your employer will be heavily influenced by the relationships that you can build with large corporates.

Property  - From selling the homes that will be special places for individuals and families across the UK for decades to working on some of the most complicated global investment transactions that will place millions of pounds into bricks and mortar with a view to securing huge returns for all involved, excellent sales skills are essential to success in this industry. Great negotiation skills are also integral to a long career in property as homes have to be bought and sold at the right time, for the right price. 

  • Confidence - Confidence is key in selling. If you aren’t confident in what you’re selling, why would a customer be confident that your products or services will deliver them exceptional value? Making people believe in you and the quality of anything they buy from you is essential to a successful sales career. 
  • Communication - You need to be able to express the advantages of anything you sell clearly and succinctly. During a cold call, you have a matter of seconds to convince the recipient not to hang up on you. Clear, concise and persuasive communication is the difference between securing commissions and securing rejections. 
  • Perseverance - If you work in sales, you need to be able to deal with rejection, move on and try to sell to the next 10 people you contact. When paying bills may depend on earning commissions, giving up is not an option. If you are the kind of person who sticks at things not just until the end, but until you can make successes of them, then sales is a career that you’ll do well in. Perseverance is also important because it allows you to see each day with an optimistic outlook and create a positive working atmosphere for yourself and your colleagues. They might be experiencing setbacks too. Having positive energy in the room will keep everybody going and give everyone some extra motivation. 
  • Commercial Awareness - Knowing the value of your services will prevent you from selling at a far lower price than your competitors. While it is important to remain competitive, if you go too low then your business will miss out on considerable profits, and may also suffer reputational damage. 
  • Patience - Phoning an interested prospect 37 times in the same week will make you appear ‘pushy’ and will put them off working with you completely. While following-up with prospects is a crucial part of closing sales, you need to be patient and give them a sufficient amount of time to consider your proposal. 
  • IT Skills - Familiarity with programmes such as Microsoft Excel is crucial, as you will spend much of your time collecting, organising and analysing important data about your clients and prospects, particularly if you progress to more senior roles in the industry. 
  • Numeracy - Sales is not an industry that you want to get the maths wrong in, particularly when your own mortgage and the mortgages of entire teams are relying on your effective pricing of goods. 
  • Writing - You need to make sure that whenever you email a prospect or client, every word that you write is persuading them to do more business with you in future. 
  • Social (InterpersonalSkills - Having a business lunch is not necessarily a skill. Building relationships with prospects, clients and contacts over these lunches that generate more business is a crucial skill for corporate sales. It is also vital to remember that you’re representing your employer (or your own business) at all times and know your limits. 
  • Self-Awareness - Understanding how everyone you meet perceives you and using that information to inform your sales strategy is key to success in the industry. 
  • Negotiation - After you’ve called prospects and had positive meetings with them, a deal needs to be struck. You need to show that you’ve understood their point of view and give a little, without completely folding and agreeing to a bad deal which costs your company in the long-term. 
  • Foreign Language Skills - The more countries you can sell in the better. Being able to speak to people in their own language will immediately give you an advantage over domestic competitors who require everyone they do business with to speak English. 
  • Cultural Sensitivity - A religious holiday is not the best time for a sales call. By knowing which festivals your client celebrates and when you can prevent yourself from causing unwanted offence through perceived cultural insensitivity. 

Most roles are based in an office or call centre. Even in field-based roles, you will be returning to an office for feedback. Working hours may start off as shift-based before progressing to regular 9-5 hours and then going on a lot later if you are in corporate sales and are working with clients in different global cities, such as New York. Unsociable hours are therefore a huge part of the job at all levels. Unfortunately, the only thing that is more prevalent than unsociable hours in sales is pressure. If you’re working in this industry, you have to be able to perform excellently in the face of the tightest deadlines.

If you thrive under pressure and your willing to commit a few years to build your career, then you will move up the ranks very quickly in sales. Many people are able to achieve senior sales positions long before they hit 40, simply because of their consistently high levels of commitment and performance. As you progress, you will gain more access to outside sales opportunities, which will give you great opportunities to travel and meet a wide range of people. You’ll also get to enjoy some wonderful events, including top sports and entertainment events. 

Larger businesses will have international secondment opportunities available for high-performers. The chance to live in a different country or even on a different continent will be an amazing experience that you’ll remember and cherish for the rest of your life. It will be difficult at first, as you adapt to new ways of working with new people. However, as you adapt to your new home over time, you’ll get used to the changes and discover things about yourself and your job that you can apply to your work back home to achieve even better results in both your personal and professional lives. 

It’s not too difficult to get an entry-level job in sales. However, it will be one of the biggest challenges of your life to keep that job and then progress to a more senior role. Roles in telesales, field sales or as a sales executive will give you an opportunity to get into the industry. How you use that opportunity is then up to you. Many people work in sales and then go on to start their own businesses, using the techniques learnt during their time spent working in sales to persuade partners, stakeholders and clients of their value.

Business degrees are highly sought-after by graduate employers when they look to fill sales roles. These jobs are very competitive as they place graduates right at the heart of some of the most lucrative international sales processes in the world. Additionally, a wide range of other degrees can also qualify you for a graduate sales job. The main thing that employers look for in candidates is a character and commitment level that would suit their business, as well as previous employment experience, either as an employee or an intern. Any role where you successfully approach customers and closed sales with them is an ideal experience for one of these roles.

The Institute of Sales Management (ISM) offers a range of professional courses to help sales personnel get the most out of their roles and gain accredited qualifications which will help them to transition into more senior roles smoothly. Staying true to their motto of ‘raising the value of sales,’ ISM offer courses at 6 varied and challenging levels. Training is targeted at all sales staff, from new executives to senior sales managers and directors. Topics covered across these courses cover everything from forecasting and using data to gain more accurate customer insights to strategic sales management, customer relationship management and change management. 

ISM also acts as a crucially important membership networking organisation for sales professionals, and regularly holds high-profile events across the UK. They also offer a series of informational webinars to give sales specialists some extra tips. Accreditation with the ISM will put you in a fantastic position whenever you apply for a sales position at any level.

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