Sales representatives must have a thorough knowledge of the product or service they are selling. A strong ability to listen and understand customers is another hallmark of the successful sales rep. The tools required vary slightly according to what the representative is selling, but if you are an entry-level sales rep or looking to advance your position and increase your sales, there are several tools, both physical and psychological, that can help you in your trade.
A primary tool of sales representatives is a good quality cellular phone with a carrier that gets excellent reception. If a customer calls and you cannot be reached, you may lose a sale. The same goes for reps who don't call back promptly if they are away from the phone. Even if you work primarily in an office, being easily reachable away from your desk is important. A laptop computer or other portable device is also important for reps who work outside an office. Even in-office reps benefit from mobile computing if there is any chance a customer might email for information. Business cards and product catalogs, price lists, media kits or sell sheets round out the basic tools of a sales representative, along with some sort of sample if applicable to the item being sold.
Sales reps should always track their sales and create projections for increasing the sales in dollar amounts or customer base. A spreadsheet program is the basic tool for this. Many major spreadsheet programs also have templates you can use for this purpose so you don't have to program your own tracking sheet. Database software is also an essential tool for maintaining customer contact information. Keep your database up to date with current contact information for current and potential clients as well as notes regarding your contacts with those customers. You may also need to learn software particular to your company, but reps are usually provided with this training and a computer with the appropriate software, if necessary.
While it may not seem like a tool, a sales rep's wardrobe is a part of the impression the rep and the company make on a client. If you are performing in-person sales or working in an office where clients might walk in, you must dress in professional attire and present a neat appearance. Choose comfortable but professional shoes if you will be walking or driving for long periods. Keep a fresh outfit neatly folded into a garment bag in your car in case of spills if you tend to spend much of the day on the road.
Every sales rep should have a phone script so they have a template to follow when calling customers. Point of sale software for your mobile phone or computer can also be useful if you are making in-person visits to potential clients who may buy on the spot. The ability to take credit card sales without asking a client to go online and make an order can close the sale by making it harder for the client to say no. A case to keep business cards from getting scuffed in your purse or wallet can also help you keep up your professional appearance.
Anne Hirsh has been writing and editing for over 10 years. She has hands-on experience in cooking, visual arts and theater as well as writing experience covering wellness and animal-related topics. She also has extensive research experience in marketing, small business, Web development and SEO. Hirsh has a bachelor's degree in technical theater and English and post-baccalaureate training in writing and computer software.