Clare Burgess talks to Martin Cooke, sales executive at Mercedes-Benz of Norwich, about life as a busy sales professional.

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Jobs24 factfile: sales executive

Training

Employers are usually more interested in your personal qualities and experience rather than formal qualifications. These qualities would include confidence, communication skills, good appearance, team working and the ability to work unsupervised, a good telephone manner and communication skills.

You do not usually need any formal qualifications, although you should have a reasonable standard of literacy, numeracy and computer skills.

Most training is on the job and employers do offer apprenticeships. Colleges and training providers offer business related courses and work based qualifications - although they are not essential, they will give you an advantage when looking for work.

A driving license is essential in most job roles.

Timescale

A level 2 apprenticeship will take 12 – 18 months

Local training

• City College Norwich 01603 773773/ www.ccn.ac.uk

A key institution in the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy offering full time business related programmes, apprenticeships and work based routes.

• College of West Anglia 01553 761144/ www.cwa.ac.uk

Offering full time business programmes and apprenticeships

• Apprenticeships www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Follow the ‘search for vacancies’ link for current vacancies

For further information

• Institute of Sales and Marketing www.ismm.co.uk

Salary range

Many companies offer a basic salary plus commission, based on meeting sales targets. Job adverts usually show the potential total salary including commission, known as ‘on-target earnings’ or OTE. Basic starting salaries are £15,000 to £20,000 a year, plus commission and may also include company car, petrol allowance and bonus schemes.

Belle Jones

Why is it a good profession to get into?

Working as a sales executive is great because each day is never the same and you get to interact with lots of different people, which I find really enjoyable. Customer service is paramount and I pride myself in offering a class leading experience to every enquiry I receive. I have always been mad about cars so after spending 24 years in the army, I decided to work as a sales executive and I haven’t looked back since. It’s really great!

What does the work involve?

Being a sales executive involves so much, but it is mainly listening to what your customer wants so you can tailor what you have around their specification. It is also really important to make sure you have done everything you have promised your customer - doing what you’ve said you’ll do when you’ve said you’ll do it. For example, if I have promised a full tank of petrol I need to make sure that happens before the customer picks up the car. Another aspect of my job is keeping in touch; I contact my customers every six months to ensure they are still happy with their cars. Working in sales is enjoyable but you do work long hours and weekend work will be required. I normally start work at around 7.30am and, depending on how busy I am, will leave around 6.30pm. Because I have a lot of customers, I always come in early to get the paper work done, that way I have more time during the day to spend selling.

What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

Working in sales normally means that you are driven by targets and that for me is definitely a positive as I have always been very competitive! I think the only negative aspect would be that you work very long hours, but if you want to achieve your objectives you have to be prepared to put the hours in.

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

I think there is demand as people are always looking for sales executives. Mercedes-Benz have just had their most successful year and we have recruited additional people recently.

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

I would say that you must be completely customer focused and be fully aware of what is expected both from your customers and the company you work for. You have got to be very confident and able to make a good first impression. Customer service is of the highest importance so being pro-active and having the ability to engage with a wide range of people.

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