Working in Sales
If you enjoy interacting with all kinds of people and live for the satisfaction of closing a sale, then a sales assistant position might be just the job you're looking for this year.
Shops of all kinds need sales assistants, from supermarkets to electronics to fashion to hardware suppliers and sellers of high-end consumer goods. No matter what the position, a good sales assistant must have strong customer service skills, as well as a basic grasp of math’s, inventory, and handling cash. A good sales assistant is expected to be energetic, personable, friendly, polite, tactful, reliable and honest.
Sales Assistant Job Role
The responsibilities of a sales assistant vary by position. A junior sales assistant’s job will mostly consist of helping customers find the goods and services they need, stocking shelves and arranging displays, ordering products, organizing promotions, and handling customer complaints. A senior sales assistant, with more experience and time with a company, might take on a supervisory role, training and managing other assistants, as well as earning more money.
Other common duties of a sales assistant include managing inventory, compiling and submitting sales reports, maintaining the customer database, preparing sales presentations and displays, accepting and ordering product shipments, and tracking and investigating sales information.
Assistants working in more sophisticated fields, such as consumer electronics, will likely need a detailed working knowledge of the goods they sell. Many companies will provide training in their products.
Typical Work Hours in Sales
A typical full-time sales assistant might work between 35 to 40 hours a week. Depending on the job, one may also work some weekends and evenings, with longer hours during holidays and other high-intensity shopping seasons. Many retailers offer part-time employment. Obtaining temporary employment during holidays may lead to a permanent position after the rush has passed.
Potential Sales Income
A typical starting salary for a sales assistant is often between £11,000 and £15,000 per year. More experienced sales assistants can earn more, with supervisors earning up to £20,000 a year. Many retailers also offer sales commissions, which can further boost income. Larger companies might offer other bonuses and benefits, such as employee discounts, child care, life assurance schemes, health care, annual leave, and more.
Sales Assistant Entry Requirements and Skills
The primary skill a sales assistant must cultivate is customer service. A positive attitude, outgoing personality, and strong problem-solving skills are strongly sought out by employers, and can count for more than any formal qualifications. However, a sales assistant must also be able to work with a team and have strong maths and communications skills.
As one advances, the duties of a sales assistant might expand to conceptualizing and implementing marketing strategies, maximising sales, and expanding the customer base. Sales assistants, particularly in the fashion industry, are looked on as “brand ambassadors,” and are expected to be passionate and knowledgeable about the products they’re selling.
Being a sales assistant will also likely require being on one's feet for hours at a time, as well as lifting and moving stock.
Training and Development Opportunities in Sales
Most sales assistant training will take place while on the job. Larger companies may offer formal training programs to help you develop your skills, earn promotions and to further your ability in sales careers. Down the line, this could all see you ending up with a managerial or sales director status which will look great on your CV.
What kind of training you will receive depends on the job. A sales assistant working with food may receive food hygiene training, for example, while an assistant working in a clothing store might earn certificates and awards in fashion retail.
A sales assistant aspiring to a more productive career could seek out a foundation degree in retail, which cover more sophisticated retail operations, management, and marketing. Many high-end sales assistant positions will give preference to applicants with bachelor’s degrees in marketing, management studies, or business administration. Apprenticeships may also be available.