How to Become a Sales Executive (With Typical Sales Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 June 2022

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.

A sales executive is usually a manager of a sales department and has varying responsibilities regarding the development and supervision of sales strategies and team members. Employment requirements for a sales executive can vary, but hiring managers often favour candidates with extensive work experience in the sales industry. By exploring their typical employment steps, you can identify an appropriate pathway to becoming a sales executive. In this article, we define a sales executive's roles, discuss how to become a sales executive, detail their typical skills and highlight their national average salary.

What's a sales executive?

A sales executive is an individual who usually has executive authority over sales strategies and sales department operations. Their primary duties can include determining sales goals, developing sales strategies, monitoring sales team performance, liaising with distributors, analysing sales reports and preparing sales forecasts. A sales executive is essentially responsible for overseeing all sales activities in a business.

It can be important to understand that the extent and reach of a sales executive's supervision might vary depending on the scale of the business. For large corporations, a sales executive might be responsible for the sales performance of a single product range or service. For example, a large corporation with operations in multiple industries might have several sales executives. These executives liaise with each other and collaborate toward overarching sales goals. A sales executive for a relatively small business might be responsible for the sales performance of all products and services.

How to become a sales executive

Below, you can explore a detailed guide on how to become a sales executive:

1. Develop sales skills

The first step you might consider is to develop your sales skills. You typically require an abundance of positive interpersonal qualities and core skills to operate successfully in the sales industry. Developing your soft skills can help you gain employment in the sales industry, which can then help you develop technical sales skills. Soft skills you can develop may include communication, time management, enthusiasm, leadership and confidence. The technical skills that can benefit you may include performing presentations, public speaking, understanding consumer behaviour and proficiency in sales strategies and methodologies.

Related: 15 Effective Techniques for Closing Sales to Meet Targets

2. Complete a formal qualification

A formal qualification is usually an excellent method for developing technical skills and theoretical knowledge of sales procedures and industry processes. A formal qualification might not be necessary, but it can usually improve your sales executive candidacy. There are many formal qualifications you might consider, as the sales industry usually incorporates an abundance of industries, operations and strategies. A formal qualification related to sales, marketing, business management or communication may be a good choice. Hiring managers might favour you as a candidate if you have a university degree, such as a master's or bachelor's degree.

3. Acquire relevant certifications

Certifications aren't usually an employment requirement for a sales executive position, but they can be beneficial to complete. Certificates usually refer to short online or offline courses that help you develop knowledge and skills. They're typically shorter than a formal qualification and focus on a specific procedure, process or theory. There are usually certificates in every industry, from construction to marketing. Completing a certificate relative to sales, marketing, business management or communication can help you develop sales skills and knowledge. A certificate can also highlight your competency and commitment to self-development.

4. Gain work experience

To become a sales executive, you typically require work experience in a managerial role or a sales position. Work experience can help you develop practical skills specific to the sales industry. Because a sales executive position is usually a managerial role, hiring managers may prefer you to have work experience. This is because it shows you have the capabilities to operate in a professional environment and that you've experienced industry procedures and processes. You can consider gaining work experience in different fields related to sales, such as marketing and communications, though experience in sales is usually the most beneficial.

5. Build a sales portfolio

A sales portfolio might not be an employment requirement, but it can be an excellent addition to your job application. Your portfolio typically highlights impressive sales you've conducted and the accolades you've received. Your portfolio is essentially an in-depth display of your work experience and capabilities. There's usually not enough space on your resume to discuss your sales experience in detail, so a portfolio can help you highlight your extensive experience. It can be a good idea to update your portfolio regularly with recent sales, as this can show you have current and relevant experience in the sales industry.

6. Develop an engaging resume

Your resume is usually only a part of the employment process, but it can be extremely beneficial to develop an engaging and informative resume. A sales executive resume isn't necessarily unique, but there are some important credentials worth highlighting. Your work experience might be the most important credential, as it proves you have technical skills and practical knowledge in the industry. Your interpersonal qualities may also be important to highlight, as many of your responsibilities involve collaborating with team members.

Related: Examples of Sales Resume Keywords (Plus How to Use Them)

7. Apply for a sales executive position

When you've gained the necessary credentials and developed the required employment documents, you may apply for a sales executive position. There are usually many employment opportunities available, as most large businesses that offer goods and services incorporate a sales team. You can also usually gain employment in a variety of industries, provided the business sells goods and services. There are many methods of applying for a sales executive job. Responding to job listings is one of them. You can usually find many job listings on online job boards.

Related: The Types of Careers in Sales (With Average Salaries)

Typical sales executive skills

Technical and soft skills are usually important credentials for gaining employment as a sales executive. If you analyse your strengths and weaknesses, you can identify your sales skills that might require development. Below, you can explore several skills that can be worth developing for obtaining a sales executive position:

Strategic thinking

As a sales executive, one of your primary responsibilities might be setting sales goals for a business or department. When setting goals, you typically provide a strategy for the business or sales department to achieve those goals. Your ability to set realistic goals and effective sales strategies can benefit extensively from a strategic-thinking mindset. Strategic thinking can allow you to plan for future operations and consider variables that can influence sales performance.

Communication

Most of your responsibilities as a sales executive can involve liaising with clients, customers, distributors, colleagues and executives. Communication is a skill that can directly improve your ability to discuss strategies with colleagues, present reports to executives and provide customer service to potential leads. Communication skills can help you absorb information effectively and discuss complex topics with clarity.

Related: Sales Communication Skills (With Examples and Step Guide)

Leadership

As a sales executive, you're usually in a managerial role and responsible for supervising sales representatives and assistants. One of your managerial responsibilities might be to maintain the productivity and enthusiasm of team members. If you possess excellent leadership skills, you can usually inspire and motivate others and encourage them to work productively. If you lead with enthusiasm, your team members may feel inclined to adopt your mindset and improve their value to the team.

Research

When developing sales strategies, you typically research an abundance of products, markets and statistics. For example, if you've set a strategy for increasing car sales, you may research the current auto market conditions and forecasts to ensure the strategy's effectiveness. Your research skills can allow you to identify reliable sources, interpret complex information and determine relationships between statistical data sets.

Related: Car Salesperson Resume Guide (With a Resume Template)

The national average salary of a sales executive

The national average salary of a sales executive is $79,064 per year. There are typically several methods for improving your salary in this role. Developing your skills and expertise as a sales executive might allow you to conduct challenging and valuable sales. This can help you exceed sales goals and business expectations. Depending on your potential employer, they might reward your improved performance with a pay rise. You might also receive a pay rise for continued contributions to a business, as the employer might value and reward your loyalty.

A variable that can substantially influence your salary as a sales executive might be the location of where you gain employment. Some cities and territories might have a high demand for sales executives. Those regions with a high demand might offer relatively high salaries compared to other regions. Below, you can explore the average salaries of a sale executive in varying cities and regions:

  • Melbourne, VIC: $121,807 per year

  • Cairns, QLD: $97,458 per year

  • Gold Coast, QLD: $89,420 per year

  • Sydney, NSW: $86,234 per year

  • Brisbane, QLD: $77,148 per year

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

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