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Sales associates are the front-line employees of any business with brick-and-mortar retail locations. Every industry that sells to customers employees sales associates; many specialize in one industry. These industries include but are not limited to, fashion, home improvement, food and beverage, electronics, and telecommunications. Sales associates are retail employees, so they have to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. The plus is that those who work on commission benefit from busy stores during the holiday season. The people who are most satisfied with this position have a true passion for what they sell. Sales associates usually work 40-hour workweeks, although they may work a lot of overtime during the holiday season. They also may see their hours get cut during the slower months.

Sales associates work under the guidance of a retail supervisor. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for retail workers, which includes sales associates, is going to grow 2 percent through 2026.

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Sales Associate Duties and Responsibilities

Sales associates have many duties and responsibilities, which vary depending on one’s industry. We analyzed a handful of sales associate job descriptions to come up with the following list of the most common sales associate duties and responsibilities:

Participate in Product Knowledge Meetings

Sales associates participate in regular meetings that inform them of the features and benefits of the latest products. These meetings may involve role-playing games to practice using product knowledge in a customer setting.

Answer Customer Questions

Not only do sales associates have to answer customer questions, they have to maintain a consistently positive attitude while doing so. They also have to know when to ask their manager for assistance.

Arrange Product According to Company Visual Standards

All retail stores have a visual merchandising strategy. Sales associates are responsible for maintaining that strategy by straightening items on the sales floor throughout the day.

Collaborate with Stock Team yo Replenish Floor

Sales associates have to be in constant communication with the sales team. In some retail locations, both the stock and sales team wear headsets that allow them to communicate without the sales associate leaving the floor. Sales associates need to be able to describe a product by its SKU and style code.

Perform Basic Housekeeping Tasks during Opening and Closing the Store

These tasks include things like sweeping, mopping, windexing doors and mirrors, wiping down counters, emptying sensor bins, and taking out the garbage.

Process Sales Using Point of Sale Software

Sales associates use point of sale software to process customer payments. This responsibility involves adding items near the register and capturing customer email information.

Sales Associate Skills

Sales associates have to be experts in whatever they sell. Those who work in fashion have a knowledge of style and textiles, while those who work in home improvement have a knowledge of various building materials. Sales associates also need to know how to explain the features and benefits of a product in a way that entices the customer. Patience and a positive outlook on life are key to succeeding as a sales associate. Sometimes one encounters a nasty customer and it takes thick skin to not let it affect one’s day. Besides these traits and areas of knowledge, the following skills are needed to obtain employment:

  • Learning the features and benefits of new and current products through actively participating in team meetings
  • Using spatial awareness to monitor the behavior of multiple customers at a time
  • Selling products to customers using sales skills and product knowledge
  • Maintaining products on the sales floor to company visual standards using strong attention to detail
  • Collaborating with other sales associates and manager on duty to provide an optimal customer experience

Sales Associate Tools of the Trade

Headsets – headsets and walkie-talkies are used by sales associates to communicate with each other and the stock team

Point of sale software -used to facilitate customer transactions

Pricing and labeling gun -used to print labels and mark promotions

Sales Associate Education and Training

All knowledge required to be a sales associate is required through on-the-job-training. They only need a high school diploma or equivalent to get hired.

Sales Associate Salary

According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for sales associates is $24,809. The low point of this scale is $19,000, and the high point of the scale is $48,000.

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Sales Associate Resources

If you think a career in sales is for you, check out this list of resources for sales associates.

National Association of Sales Professionals

The National Association of Sales Professionals is a great organization for sales associates looking to further their professional development. It offers two certifications, the Certified Professional Sales Person and the Certified Professional Sales Leader. Both of these are great ways to get access to opportunities with higher pay.

The Sales Blog

Written by Anthony Iannarino, the Sales Blog covers all of the latest trends and innovative strategies in the sales industry. It's a great resource for sales associates in all niches.

Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness

This bestseller covers all the key concepts a sales associate needs to know to become a top seller in their niche. These 12.5 principles come from years of experience succeeding in the sales world.

Selling 101: What Every Successful Sales Professional Needs to Know

Zig Ziglar is a legend in the world of sales and motivational speaking. This book is packed with his trademark wisdom and relentless optimism, making it a read for all kinds of sales associates.

The Sales Survival Handbook: Cold Calls, Commissions, and Caffeine Addiction - the Truth About Life in Sales

This is the perfect read for those who have never worked in sales but want to know what it's like. It's packed with advice learned in the sales trenches.

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