How To Become a Sales Assistant (With Top Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 23 January 2023

Published 12 October 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.

Sales assistants play a pivotal role in the retail sales industry. These professionals can work in retail stores, shops and boutiques, greeting customers and helping them with their purchases. Knowing what a sales assistant does and what skills they require to perform their jobs can help you decide whether it's the right career for you. In this article, we define the role of a sales assistant, discuss how to become a sales assistant and highlight some relevant skills that may be beneficial to the role.

Related: Sales Job and Salaries

What is a sales assistant?

A retail assistant is a professional who helps walk-in customers have a pleasant shopping and buying experience in a retail setting. Their role is effectively that of customer service though they also assist with processing orders and making payments. The daily duties of a sales assistant may vary according to their employer or industry.

Sales assistant responsibilities:

  • Keep shelves, work areas and displays clean and organised

  • Report service, safety or inventory issues to the store manager

  • Assist other sales personnel in monitoring inventory and process delivery orders

  • Communicate with customers by answering their questions and determine their satisfaction level

  • Enter customer details or particulars into the store's database

  • Ensure sales material and products are positioned clearly and in the right places

  • Perform clerical work like tracking sales commission

  • Provide retail customers with information on product availability and pricing

  • Resolve customer complaints or situations of conflict

  • Help customers find the products they are looking for in-store

  • Liaise with other stores and arrange the transportation and delivery of items that are out of stock

  • Operate the cash register, take payments and issues refunds

  • Arrange for damaged goods to be repaired or exchanged

Related: What Does a Merchandiser Do? (With Skills and Salary)

How to become a sales assistant

Sales assistants are often social people that seek employment in a customer facing role. The following steps can help you learn how to become a sales assistant:

1. Earn a high school certificate

To get into a retail sales position, start by earning a high school certificate. Your high school education imparts you with basic life skills. This means you can perform basic mathematical calculations, speak and write in English and interact with people.

2. Get some sales experience

Once you earn your high school certificate, look for opportunities where you can develop your sales skills. You can apply for entry-level jobs in a local store or shop. Training usually happens on the job and imparts you with the skills and experience to work as a sales assistant. You might work under a sales manager or an experienced sales associate who can show you how to assist customers, process orders and facilitate transactions.

3. Apply for a sales assistant job

Finally, create a resume that highlights your academic qualifications and the relevant skills for a sales assistant before applying for vacant positions. To increase your chances of success, you can use keywords from the job description in your resume and cover letter to show your attributes and experience aligns with the job requirements.

You can use online job boards such as the Indeed Job Board for current opportunities. Most sales assistant employers require a copy of your resume, a cover letter and any other relevant certifications you may have.

Related:

  • Retail Resume Examples: Applying for a Retail Job

  • How to Write a Cover Letter for a Part-Time Job

Top sales assistant skills

Retail assistants are usually confident individuals that can work in a team and interact with customers. To succeed in this role, you may wish to nurture your soft skills and develop technical skills through on-the-job training. Below are abilities that can be highly beneficial to a sales assistant:

  • Customer service: A sales assistant job is essentially a customer-facing role. Since they work with various customers, sales assistants can quickly respond to customer queries, requests, complaints or issues. Good customer service skills drive customer satisfaction and ensure customers keep coming to the store to buy goods.

  • Communication skills: Retail assistants usually use good communication to speak clearly and listen attentively to customers and team members. They know how to answer phones and talk to customers face-to-face to ensure they make the right purchases.

  • Time management: Good time management is critical for any retail assistant, especially in a busy environment with competing priorities. By managing their time effectively, the retail assistant can perform all their key duties during their shift promptly.

  • Interpersonal skills: A retail assistant usually interacts with customers from different backgrounds and with different personalities. To do this, they might be patient and show empathy towards with customers seeking help.

  • Clerical skills: Retail assistants also know how to use printers, fax machines, scanners and office telephones. They may also use this skill to file banking records.

  • Computer literacy: Sales assistants may be proficient in using computers, laptops, credit card systems, inventory software and point of sale systems in the store.

  • Genuine persuasiveness: The ability to persuade possible customers that a product or service can solve a problem the customer may have can be highly useful. Successful retail assistants often use empathetic tones and address the customer's objectives..

  • Resilience: Sales assistants can be resilient when they encounter difficult customers. Resilience helps the sales assistant recover from tough times and situations.

  • Creative problem-solving: Sales assistants usually solve in-store problems quickly and decisively, which requires a solution-driven mindset and a creative approach to issues. The ability to troubleshoot issues effectively can contribute to providing a positive customer experience.

  • Team player: Many stores have multiple sales personnel working at any given time. A sales assistant may share tasks with team members or offer support to new colleagues during peak periods. Mutual cooperation ensures that retail store operations run smoothly.

  • Physical stamina: Full-time sales assistants may also benefit from being physically fit as retail jobs often require employees to work on their feet for a long period of time. You may be on your feet for long hours, carrying heavy boxes and climbing ladders to reach high shelves.

  • Proper grooming: You might also be expected to be tidy and smart in appearance, as you're the store's ambassador. Proper grooming makes customers seek out help from you and positively portray you.

Related: Retail Skills: Definitions and Examples

FAQs on sales assistant careers

You might readily know what a sales assistant does, but you might have some questions concerning their role. Below we provide answers to some common questions about the role of a sales assistant:

What qualifications do you need to be a sales assistant?

The retail assistant's job doesn't always require formal qualifications. However, having a diploma in sales and marketing can help boost your credentials as a sales professional. Hiring managers may also look for candidates with prior customer service experience in retail or another customer facing role. It can also be important to have solid product knowledge such as the key features of the items you're selling, how the product can benefit the customers and what materials are in a product.

How do I become a sales assistant with no experience?

If you would like to become a sales assistant but have no retail sales experience, try volunteering at a charity store near you. Your supervisor may provide you with on-the-job training, meaning you can learn as you sell. Another thing you can do is outline the skills you have used during your school years to earn an education.

How much do sales retail sales assistants make?

The average salary of a retail sales assistant is $25.02 per hour. Working 40 hours a week, this person can earn an annual salary of $52,000. Their pay may vary depending on considerations such as job experience, qualifications, location and industry. Those who work full-time earn more than their counterparts who work part-time. The sales assistant usually earns a commission based on the value and number of sales in commission-based jobs.

Where do sales assistants work?

Most sales assistants work in indoor retail settings, where they assist customers. They use their sales and customer service experience in different sectors within the retail industry, including boutiques, auto retailers, drug stores, home furnishing shops, specialty retailers and grocery stores. Some retail assistants work full-time while others part-time depending on the number of customers a business has.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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