What Does a Salesman Do? Skills and Professional Duties

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working as a salesman can be an exciting, fast-paced and enjoyable job if you enjoy interacting and communicating with other people daily. A salesman can work in practically any industry as long as the industry offers something for sale to consumers.

If you have an interest in exploring a professional career as a salesman, you may wish to understand what a salesman does to better prepare yourself for this career. In this article, we explain what a salesman does, identify and list out some useful skills to have in this career and provide you with examples of a salesman's daily duties in the workplace.

What does a salesman do?

If you're searching for the answer to the question, ‘What does a salesman do?', it's crucial to learn about some of a salesman's specific duties. These are some tasks a salesman may engage in as part of their daily roles and responsibilities at the workplace:

Introducing products and services to customers

One of the basic tasks a salesman does is to introduce products and services to customers. This could entail familiarising themselves with the products or services offered in the shop and understanding the differences between similar items. If a customer walks into a shop searching for certain products, a salesman may take the initiative to explain to the customer about the items for sale in their shop to close a sale.

Introducing products and services to customers is especially important if the customer is new or if the product is new. If the customer is not a regular patron of the shop, they may not be familiar with the offerings of the shop and may not be able to decide on the item that best suits their needs.

A salesperson who has prior knowledge and experience about each product or service can better inform customers. If the company has launched new products or services, a salesperson may wish to alert customers to these items as well.

Answering queries from customers

These professionals answer queries from customers at several points in time during the sales process. Customers may be curious about the features of a certain product or have questions about how to preserve the lifetime of the product. There may also be questions about how to use the product if the customer is purchasing the product for the first time.

A salesperson plays a key role in providing detailed and in-depth information to customers as they're the most familiar with the products and services sold in the shop. If the salesperson is new and doesn't know how to handle a customer's query, they may wish to direct the customer to a colleague who can assist them. This is part of managing the expectations of customers and ensuring that customers receive accurate product information.

Providing after-sales service care to customers

As part of providing good customer service and care, a salesperson may also have the responsibility of providing after-sales care to customers. This could entail helping customers repair their goods or products when damaged. Alternatively, customers may seek to exchange or refund certain products or services if they find them unsuitable for their purposes.

Another way of providing after-sales care to customers is for the salesperson to proactively reach out to customers and enquire about their experience in the shop and how the products or services are performing. Taking the initiative to check with customers lends a more personal touch and customers are likely to appreciate the extra effort. Also, a salesperson may wish to seek feedback on the goods and services for the company's continual improvement.

Taking stock of inventory in the shop

Another responsibility of a salesperson is to take stock of the inventory in the shop. For example, a salesperson may do a daily check of the inventory in the storeroom before the shop opens and another round of stocktaking at the end of the day. This helps the shop to track how many items they sold in the course of the day and whether it tallies with the amount stated in the cashier till.

Taking stock of inventory is also important as it alerts the shop manager when stocks are running low. If the shop is nearly exhausting its stock for a popular item, a salesperson may wish to make a note to order more of those items. Another reason for stocktaking is to identify the popular items in the shop and for the shop to consider placing similar items together to boost overall sales.

Related: What Are Organisational Skills and How Can You Develop Them?

Planning for events and promotions

A salesperson may also assist with planning for events and promotions in the shop. For example, if the shop is thinking of holding a sale during the festive season, the salesperson may plan a festive event to attract more customers to the shop. They may make decisions on the promotions, such as choosing certain items to promote, giving discounts on particular products and setting the time period for the promotional campaign.

Planning for events and promotions is important as a salesperson interacts with customers daily and may be quite familiar with the preferences of customers. This experience and knowledge may guide salespeople to provide the best recommendations for how the event or promotion may look like. It could also involve salespeople in procuring the venue and decoration for any events as part of this responsibility.

Tidying up the shop

It's crucial for a shop to be neat and clean so that customers can identify the products they want to purchase. A salesperson may perform the duty of tidying up the shop before and after it closes to maintain the overall look and appearance of the shop. Arranging the products on the shelves neatly can help the customer locate what they want to buy more quickly.

Tidying up the shop is also important as the general cleanliness of the shop could affect a customer's impression of the shop. Their impression could in turn affect their decision to enter the shop or leave for another retail outlet. A salesperson may wish to check with their colleagues on how the shop usually maintains its cleanliness and follow that standard as a guide.

Supervise other staff members

If you're a more senior salesperson who has accumulated several years of experience, you may take on additional responsibilities to manage the newer and less experienced staff members. For example, you may train the incoming sales staff members and educate them on good customer service tips. Alternatively, you may be a buddy or mentor for some of these less experienced salespeople and answer any work-related queries they may have.

As part of supervising other staff members, a salesperson may also help with the evaluation of work performance during the end of the year. Such work performance evaluation could be crucial in helping the shop improve its customer service and consequently boost overall sales. Managing people well is a key task to helping the entire staff force remain productive and continue to work efficiently and effectively.

Related: What Is the Role of a Manager? (Plus Other Management FAQs)

Skills a salesman may wish to acquire

A salesman may possess a wide repertoire of skills depending on the wealth of experience they have. Here are some skills a salesman may wish to acquire:

Communication skills

Communication skills are key for a salesperson as they're frequently interacting with customers. Being able to explain product features and answer queries articulately is part of closing a sale. By having good communication skills, a salesperson reduces the chances of miscommunication which could cause an unpleasant shopping experience for the consumer.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

Teamwork skills

A salesperson may work in a team with other colleagues, so having good teamwork skills can improve harmony in the workplace. Being a team player means the salesperson can adapt to and respond to the working styles of their colleagues and managers, even if these aren't their personal working styles. By collaborating well with others, a salesperson may also boost synergy and reduce tension in the workplace to make the working environment more pleasant.

Related: What Is Teamwork? (Plus Skills and Examples of Teamwork)

Time management skills

A salesperson may also wish to acquire good time management skills. A salesperson may be especially busy during weekends or holiday seasons. Learning how to prioritise tasks and attending to the tasks which require immediate attention may help a salesperson cope with more customers to the shop.

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