Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

Job description and personal specifications of a sales assistant

Nearly every company has a salesperson or sales team that is responsible for promoting and selling their products and services.

Personal selling is a valuable skill that is transferable to professions such as retail, technology, consumer products, accounting, insurance and entrepreneurship. Sales assistant positions allow college graduates and young professionals to shadow and learn from more senior sales representatives, which can help jump start their own sales career.


Although the role of a sales assistant varies based on the industry, her primary responsibility is to assist and perform administrative functions for the larger sales team.

In a retail company, the sales assistant helps customer on the sales floor with their purchases, manages product orders and shipments, and keeps shelves neat and stocked with goods.

Corporate sales assistants spend more time handling data entry, routing sales leads to the appropriate sales manager and sending collateral to trade shows and customer events. Other duties include answering customer inquiries, assembling sales proposals, planning events and creating sales progress reports.


GCSEs are required for a sales assistant position, and most employers prefer an HND or a bachelor's degree in marketing, business administration or a related subject. Coursework that helps prepare students for a sales career include advertising, marketing research, behaviour management, consumer and buyer behaviour, and customer relations.


Employers mainly look for candidates who are proactive, flexible and take initiative in the workplace. Sales assistants must also have strong interpersonal communication skills and be computer savvy.

Since this role handles a variety of administrative duties, sales assistants should be well-organised and able to juggle multiple projects simultaneously. International companies may prefer candidates who are fluent in a second language. Depending on the position, some sales assistant roles require professionals with six months to five years of experience in customer service or sales support.


The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings report produced by the UK governments Office for National Statistics contains a n umber of categories that fit into the "Sales Assistant" description. Sales and retail assistants had an average annual salary of £14,326 in the 2012 report. Specialised sales assistants earned more. For example, "pharmacy and other dispensing assistants" earned an average of £14,826 in that year


The National Careers Service expects that between 2007 and 2017 and extra 214,000 jobs will be created in the retail sector. The sector currently employs about 10 per cent of the UK workforce.