Well known for being a fast-paced and driven industry, sales roles can be found in almost every sector, such that opportunities for graduates are plentiful.

Careers in Sales

The sales industry covers a wide range of industries and employs workers from all areas of the community. At the end of 2019, there we just under a million sales and marketing professionals employed throughout the country and stats have proven that this number continues to grow every year.

This means that sales has one of the highest potentials for new job roles for students and newly qualified graduates.

There are commonly two forms of sales in the industry, and businesses will target their marketing and promotions based on one of these categories. Both require completely different strategies:

Business-to-business (B2B)

This refers to the sale of products from one business to another and requires the development of long-lasting relationships over a long period to build an established network of companies.

Business-to-consumer (B2C)

This refers to selling to one individual consumer, commonly in retail environments. This strategy requires the salesperson to directly market items towards customers, who are making purchases on the spot.

Sales vs Retail

Many people confuse sales roles with retail roles. Retail is commonly associated with the sale of items in small quantities, such as clothing or food. Sales, on the other hand, can refer the sale of just about anything, from physical goods to signing up to a service your business offers.

Another way of separating them is by viewing retail as sales to customers already in the market for a particular item or product. In contrast, sales involves some form of convincing the customer or consumer to make a purchase.

Some types of job roles within sales include:

  • Sales Executive

Usually focusing on B2B or B2C sales, sales executives work towards promoting and selling a company’s products or services to a variety of consumers and organisations. The ability to work under pressure and confidently negotiate with clients is key to success.

  • Business Development Manager

Employees in this role work towards identifying new business opportunities in a range of sectors and can work closely with a team of recruitment coordinators to build relationships and acquire repeat business.

  • Technical Sales Engineer

A typical career path for science and engineering graduates with good communication skills. Technical sales engineers use their knowledge to support the sale of products and services, providing both pre-sales and after-sales guidance for customers and clients.

Key Skills

With sales job available in a wide variety of industries, opportunities are available to graduates of all subjects, but the following may improve your chances:

  • Business/Management
  • Advertising or media studies
  • Computing or technology
  • Modern European languages

Recruiters in the sector will look for candidates to typically have the following five essential skills:

  1. Confidence – The ability to maintain your composure under pressure is a vital skill to possess when met with strict targets, deadlines and a wide array of customers
  2. Interpersonal Skills – Building trust and long-term relationships with customers is a regular feature of the sales industry, and understanding their needs can put you ahead of the competition
  3. Ambition and drive to succeed – Particularly crucial if you intend on starting your own business, professional ambition is a highly desirable characteristic to possess and can be the difference between reaching or falling short of expectations
  4. Resilience – Working in the sales will mean you will regularly have to pick yourself up after a setback, but being able to focus on the next goal is critical to success
  5. Ability to use initiative – Sales roles can typically require employees to work both independently and as part of a team. Being able to think outside the box could be vital when attempting to win over a key client

If you haven’t gone to university yet, try reading our guides on choosing a degree, and choosing a university.

For someone who has graduated, or is about to, see our support for those who aren’t sure what to do next. Also, try heading to a careers fair to find the right career for you.