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Being a direct sales representative is a high-pressure position because your salary and your career often depend on your ability to make the sale. For people who are good at talking to others and who like to travel, being a direct sales representative can be a very enjoyable career. In this job, you will often work alone and with very little supervision. You’ll also have the freedom to set your own hours and make connections with potential buyers in your own way.

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Direct Sales Representative Duties and Responsibilities

You will be directly representing the company you work for and the company’s line of products as a direct sales representative. Companies hiring people for this role will expect them to carry out many tasks, such as:

Meet Sales Goals

Direct sales representatives have certain sales goals and quotas they're expected to meet on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, with bonuses and incentive rewards provided when they go above and beyond these requirements.

Write Sales Reports

Because they have no direct supervision, direct sales representatives are required to submit regular sales reports detailing the sales they make so superiors can keep track of their progress.

Create Sales Proposals

Direct sales reps used their words and personality to make sales contacts and open the door to negotiations, but they also need to write up sales proposals to put information down on paper for potential buyers.

Answer Questions

Potential buyers will have lots of questions before they agree to make the sale, and direct sales representatives give them all the information they need so they feel that they're making a well-informed decision. This requires knowing products inside and out so sales reps can answer the buyer's questions clearly and accurately.

Attend Trade Shows

In order to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and newest developments with the products they're selling, direct sales representatives may need to attend trade shows and other industry events to stay apprised of the most recent information.

Direct Sales Representative Skills and Qualifications

Direct sales representatives must be good with people and able to communicate well in order to get buyers to trust them. Companies hiring direct sales reps also prefer workers with a background in the following:

  • Networking skills - direct sales representatives must find and make their own business contacts, which requires strong networking know-how
  • Charisma - getting people to like you is essential if you want to get them to buy from you, so having natural charisma will serve you well
  • Negotiation skills - not every sale is going to be easy, and many potential buyers will want to negotiate so they feel they're getting the best price, which means direct sales reps need to be strong in this area to make sure they're getting their company a good profit
  • Strong memory - remembering names and tidbits of personal information about people helps build strong connections with potential buyers, which ultimately helps make the sale
  • Mathematics - because they work with sales figures and money, direct sales reps should have an aptitude for math

Direct Sales Representative Tools of the Trade

Direct sales representatives work regularly with the following tools:

Product samples

Sales merchandise (pens, notepads, mouse pads, and office supplies)

Business cards

Direct Sales Representative Education and Training

There is no special degree required to become a direct sales representative, though depending on the industry, employers may prefer a bachelor’s degree so sales reps can express a full understanding of the company’s product list. Otherwise, a general degree in marketing is a good way to learn about becoming an effective salesperson.

On-the-job training is provided to direct sales representatives. They usually work with a mentor or trainer for a period of one or more weeks so they can learn how to perform the job and familiarize themselves with the products sold by the company they represent.

Direct Sales Representative Salary and Outlook

According to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earn a median salary of $60,530. The average salary for direct sales representatives ranges from $18,043 to $67,070 annually. Job growth is predicted to rise by 5 percent through 2026, which is the national average.

In addition to a regular salary, many direct sales representatives also receive sales commissions. Because this job requires a lot of travel, employers reimburse travel expenses and might also provide a gas allowance.

Direct sales representatives usually receive full health insurance benefits, paid vacation leave, and extra perks like profit-sharing and stock options.

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Direct Sales Representative Helpful Resources

Improve your direct sales representative talents by making use of resources that will help you advance in this career:

National Association of Sales Professionals

This online community of sales professionals provides networking and career opportunities as well as training materials and articles to help you hone your skills as a salesperson.

The Greatest Sales Book Ever Written: How to Become a Top Sales Representative or the Best at Anything You Do

This book is for sales professionals in any industry who want to learn tips and tricks for being more effective when it comes to talking to customers, networking, and actually making the sale.

The Global Inside Sales Association

This international association offers research studies and other information for sales professionals to keep them uptodate on sales trends and developments in the marketing industry.

Sales Representative Agreements, 2nd Edition: How to Develop Better Rep/Company Relationships, Increase Sales, and Reduce Disputes

This book covers every single aspect of making a sale happen, including information about writing expense reports, using CRM systems, and managing your customer lists, in addition to lots of other helpful tricks.

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