No matter the size of a company, there is always a worker dedicated to selling their products. This isn’t hard to imagine, as being able to sell your product is the key to the success of your product and business.
Sales is a prominent career in the food industry and there is always a need for effective salespeople.
How much a product sells serves as a measure of how good a company is doing and plays a pivotal role in the building of loyalty and trust between customer and business.
Sales representatives support company growth by bringing in money, maintaining relationships and bringing in new customers.
Sales representatives grow company sales
Sales representatives build relationships with new and existing customers, identify customer needs and follow up in a timely fashion. They use market and product knowledge to source and develop new sales leads through prospecting, referrals, leads and cold calling.
Sales representatives develop a thorough knowledge of the main products of their company and their competition. Having an extensive knowledge of their products allows them to personally explain to customers the benefits that their products provide them. Depending on a customer request, a salesperson may lead business meetings using sale presentations, business reports and proposals.
These professionals also recognize and develop promotional opportunities and recommend these events and activities to other departments. They frequently attend food events and food shows (ex., Restaurant Canada show), as these places have many potential leads. Finally, sales representatives develop and implement action plans through thoroughly conducted research and data analysis.
Finally, sales representatives work closely with other departments, especially account managers, on trends, opportunities and issues, ensuring that company quotas and standards are being met.
Sales representatives build and maintain relationships
At the heart of any sales job is establishing relationships with people and companies. These relationships are based on the agreement that your company provides the customer with something of value that they are willing to pay for it. An effective sales representative has a deep understanding of their clients’ needs. Customers have considerations they need to account for when purchasing products or services. These considerations include budgets, goals and concerns. For example, a sales representative working for a snack company may want to sell their product to a grocery store. The grocery store must consider how much shelf space the product will take, the price it will be sold for and how much product will be supplied to them.
Therefore, to build a strong relationship with the grocery store, the sales representative must take all these factors into consideration and develop a sales plan that touches on each.
Sales representatives have educational backgrounds in business
Most companies require sales representatives to have bachelor’s degrees in marketing, business, economics or a related field. Specifically for the food industry, it is common for individuals to have degrees in food science or the culinary arts. However, some companies only require non-technical sales representatives to have high school diplomas. In these cases, companies are looking for work experience prior to entering the position and most of all a good personality well suited for a sales role. Most training is performed on the job, so any information required can be picked up from there.
Sales representatives develop sales strategies for product lines
A sales strategy is a plan by a business or individual on how to sell products or services and increase profits. Therefore, a big portion of a sales representative’s job goes into developing and planning these strategies. Sales representatives develop these strategies by budgeting, reviewing ideal customer profiles and understanding what differentiates their product from others in the market. These strategies require time and constantly need to be measured and monitored. Some plans can last for months and even years.
At the end of the day, though, plans identify goals and create actionable steps.
Sales representatives negotiate
Negotiation is an everyday practice in the world of sales. A small sample of what companies negotiate includes prices, deadlines, and stock quantities. Being able to negotiate is a skill that takes time to develop and a lot of practice. Effective negotiating involves being prepared, having a strategy and knowing when to walk away.
Even if a salesperson has agreed upon a deal for a client, negotiations with clients may continue after the deal is made. For example, a client may want to re-negotiate the percentage of sales they receive when a product is purchased. Sales representatives need to stand their ground to earn money for their companies.
Sales representatives prepare reports
Data is a sales representative’s best friend. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Data allows them to track progress towards goals, prepare for the future and spot potential problems. However, just looking at data isn’t enough. It needs to be interpreted so other (managers, department heads) can understand it. Therefore, it is up to sales representatives to create reports for themselves and others to use.
One example of a sales report a salesperson might use is known as a revenue report. The purpose of this report is to determine where revenue is coming from. Sources include social media, paid or organic search engines and email marketing.
Once these professionals know where their revenue is coming from, they focus their efforts on these particular areas.
Sales representatives travel around the country and the world
Sales representatives usually spend their time between the office and visiting clients. Sometimes, successful business deals must be conducted in person. In some cases, this means that a salesperson travels across the country or even around the world. Additionally, they frequent trade shows and educate prospects on new ideas and perspectives.
Sales representatives are self-starters, good with customers and persistent
Being a sales representative requires a range of skills. However, there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:
- Self-starting – Although motivation is encouraged in any job, it is especially important for a sales representative. Sales representatives demonstrate this by developing good productivity habits, using the right tools and setting structured goals. Overall, sales reps know what the client needs without upper management instructing them to do so.
- Customer service skills – Customer service skills are defined as the ability to deal with people in a professional, courteous and friendly manner. Being able to communicate in an open and direct manner both through written and verbal communication is essential for any sales representative.
- Persistence – Although not necessarily a skill, persistence is an asset to any salesperson. Working in sales involves many setbacks. Sales representatives understand this is completely normal and persevere despite setbacks and rejections. Not every customer is going to be a sale. Being able to bounce back after losing a sale is an indispensable skill for this job.