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How to become a Sales Executive in the UK

Published: Sunday 14th February 2021

A sales executive job revolves around selling a company’s products or services to customers. As a sales executive in the UK, your work will involve promoting products and services to customers or clients as well as negotiating contracts with the aim of maximising profits and helping to drive business growth forward. This can be either to customers (B2C), or other businesses (B2B).

Sales executives are a part of every business and industry, including healthcare and the media. Although they have different responsibilities in different businesses and industries, they are responsible for setting and achieving sales goals. 

Sales executive-related jobs may also be advertised under similar job titles such as sales representatives, sales consultants, territory managers or business development representatives and business development executives. Find out all about how to become a sales executive in the UK in our career guide.

Ready to sale. Pleasant cheerful handsome realtor holding folder and expressing positivity while standing near window. how to become a sales executive in the UK.

What does a Sales Executive in the UK do?

Operating either on a B2B or a B2C level, sales execs enjoy being with people and the art of negotiation. Their mission is to sell products and services on behalf of their company in order to maximise growth and profits. 

Professionals in these types of jobs are responsible for developing sales strategies, determining new markets, identifying potential customers and providing knowledgeable information regarding their company’s products and services. In addition, they should be able to answer the questions of customers in order to help them make informed purchasing decisions.

Sales executives in the UK may work for small or large companies and in many different types of businesses, including retail and wholesale trade, finance, manufacturing and management companies. Their work typically includes:

  • organising sales and establishing new business
  • demonstrating and presenting products or services
  • maintaining accurate records
  • attending trade exhibitions, conferences and meetings
  • negotiating contracts and packages
  • setting and achieving monthly or annual targets
  • negotiate on price, costs, delivery and specifications with buyers
  • listening to customer/client requirements and presenting appropriately to make a sale
  • cold calling to arrange meetings with potential customers 
  • acting as a contact between a company and its existing and potential markets

What qualification do you need to be a Sales Executive in the UK

There are no set requirements to become a sales executive, but a good standard of general education with several GCSEs or their equivalents could boost your job applications. Good grades in English and maths will be useful as your work will involve both written and verbal communication, and also numbers for handling sales figures and deal negotiations.

There is a wide range of qualifications available and some examples could indicatively be BTEC Level 2-3 in sales, City & Guilds level 3 in sales and diplomas in business administration, finance and retail business. There are also professional bodies that provide qualifications such as the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISSM), the Managing and Marketing Sales Association (MAMSA), and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). Moreover, if you want to become a sales exec in the UK you can check out degrees in subjects like sales and marketing, business studies or business management. 

It’s important though to remember that you don’t need a sales-related degree to head into this profession as a graduate. For example, a science degree could make you a great candidate in the pharmaceutical sales sector.

Handshake two business executives downtown buildings man and woman, sales executives closing business deal.

Skills required

Important skills for those aspiring to enter the sales industry are maturity, confidence, good presentation skills, patience and perseverance. You should also be good at building working relationships, understanding the needs of your business customers, conducting market research and possessing excellent verbal and written communication skills.

Other qualities and skills that employers often look out for in sales candidates may include:

  • excellent interpersonal skills and commercial awareness
  • good IT and numerical skills
  • a positive, confident and determined approach
  • resilience and the ability to cope with rejection
  • a high degree of self-motivation and ambition
  • the skills to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Being able to work well under pressure and flourish in a competitive environment
  • a full driving licence
  • fluency in a foreign language could also be an advantage

Salaries and career development

As a sales executive in the UK, with time and experience, you could become a sales team leader or area sales manager. You could also eventually become head of sales, or move into related business fields such as business management. Salaries and commission rates vary and can start from £20,000 to £30,000. 

Furthermore, mid-range salaries with approximately three to five years’ experience are usually around £28,000 to £40,000. At a senior level, you can earn a basic salary of £30,000 to £60,000, with commission or bonuses adding £2,000 to over £100,000, depending on the industry, product, location and level of individual success. It’s also possible to work on a commission-only basis, which means working without a basic salary and having an income-based entirely on sales.

If you are looking for sales jobs in the UK, visit Zoek and search from thousands of fresh vacancies across all levels. For more information on sales jobs and skills, check out our Info Hub.

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