Being the first set of people the customers meet when they enter a store, sales associates are not only expected to create an atmosphere that is welcoming but also establish a long-term relationship with the business’ clientele for better brand representation and further achieved sales goals.
A sales associate, also known as a retail sales associate, is an employee of a store who interacts with the customers in a way that improves the store’s sales. They do this by providing information regarding their products, answering questions and offering opinions. Sales associate may also sell retail merchandize (such as automobiles) or replacement equipment and parts (such as car parts).
Sales associates may work in a diverse range of retail stores, selling a broad range of merchandize. Some may choose to work in general stores or ones that specialize in specific kinds of goods. Either way, they will be responsible for vending the following kinds of merchandize:
- Computer software and hardware, and electronics.
- Jewelry, apparel and clothing
- Books, comics and magazines
- Food, beverages and groceries
- Home décor and furniture
- Nutritional supplements
- Pet supplies
- Sporting equipment
- Musical instruments
- Hobby-based and recreational products
- Mechanical equipment
- Vehicles and vehicle parts
- Other types of goods
Sales Associate Responsibilities
The main responsibilities for sales associates is helping customers choose between different products, assisting them in locating a particular item, and providing sufficient information regarding the products they are interested in
Sales Associate Duties
- Welcoming customers by offering a smile and greeting them, asking if they need help with anything
- Directing and escorting them to different isles, counters and racks, recommending items
- Guiding the customers about the product by providing enough information and advices
- Establishing a rapport, building customer confidence and then helping them make selections, offering opinions and suggestions from time to time
- Documenting sale records by updating or creating customer profile records
- Processing payments by totaling purchases, handling checks, cash, debit and credit cards, or any other promotional cards and coupons
- Keeping the customers updated by means of constant notifying regarding the customer preferred sales, and future products of potential interest
- Playing along with the team and contributing to collective effort by accomplishing the expected targets
- Answering and addressing all customer questions, complaints and concerns in a quick, efficient and friendly manner
- Demonstrating live how the merchandise works
- Quoting prices and discounts, as well as credit terms, trade-ins, warranties and delivery dates
- Assisting in displaying merchandise
- Stocking shelves with products
- Balancing cash registers with receipts
- Reporting complaints, problems and discrepancies to the supervisor
- Attending to customer exchanges and refunds
- Working closely in line with the rules, especially with brands
- Attaching price tags to products on the shop floor
- Keeping an eye open for shoplifters and sham credit cards
- Helping out customers with any product or service they need information about
- Showing customers to properly take care of the merchandize
- Explaining the pros and cons of using a certain item and honestly guiding the customer into buying a product after closely considering his or her requirements
Sales Associate Requirements (Knowledge, Abilities and Skills and Qualifications)
- Sales associates may or may not require a minimum of a high school diploma. Some employers may prefer candidates with a certain degree of education in an area related to the merchandize sold by the store.
On the other hand, retail stores dealing with complex or expensive goods may require a special set of skills and knowledge, which may be obtained through formal education. For instance, individuals selling computer systems will need primary knowledge of computer hardware and software and electronics to be properly able to answer customer queries and concerns.
It is worth keeping in mind sales associates who have a college diploma or university degree may be given more importance, and are likely to find their way to executive management positions in a large company
- No prior experience needed. However, having experience related to the job will greatly help the worker in reducing the learning and training time after getting hired. Most businesses look for related experience in factors, such as providing the public with customer service which includes efficiently answering questions about programs, services, and products, selling goods of any kind, and experience in working with special products, for instance having played basketball if selling basketball equipment.
- Must have a confident yet humble personality, with a friendly and efficient manner of addressing complaints and dealing with minor customer problems.
- Must be helpful and polite, not too pushy as to drive the customer away.
- Must possess a good understanding of different sales departments, like retail, Fast Moving Consumer Goods, sports and equipments.
- Must be physically fit and visually appealing.
- Articulate in speech, preferably speaking more than one language.
- Verbal communication and math skills.
- The ability to closely follow rules, have clear rules and organized methods for work.
- Be open to and enthusiastic about the idea of a career which offers opportunities for promotions and room for advancement into various operational regions.
- Better able to take and follow directions from management staff and supervisory.
- Having the ability to remain courteous and calm when handling a difficult customer or dealing with an emergency situation.
- Having a customer-service based approach to work activities.
- Product knowledge and competence.
- A continuous commitment to improving work efficiency.
- Strong will and determination to reach the established sales goals.
- Should pay close attention to detail.
- Should be able to work overtime and in hours flexible to the business, including weekends and evenings.
- Should be ready to work in outdoor conditions, especially for those selling horticultural and home improvement products.
- Should know how to deal with difficult customers and unpleasant situations.
Sales Associate Salary:
The salary figure of each sales associate will vary depending on a number of factors, such as
- The level of experience and academic qualifications
- The region in which they are working
- The type, size and reputation of their employing business
- Whether or not they are receiving other types of financial rewards, like performance bonuses, profit sharing, variable hourly tips and commissions
In the US, a sales associate earns an average of $9.30 per hour. As per the findings of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of the US citizens employed in the retail sales occupational group totaled to $21,410 per annum.
How to Become a Sales Associate
The tight economy has led to many individuals looking for sales associate positions, and many sales associates are seeking ways to place themselves ahead of the competition. Likewise, hiring companies are also on the look-out for capable individuals who will positively contribute to the business’ revenue and image. The answer of how to become a sales associate and how to become a better sales associate lies in acquiring and possessing the following sets of skills and qualities:
Excelling at a sales associate job begins with having good organizational skills, providing superior service to the customers’ calls for the ability to keep track of regular customers, their interests, needs, likes and dislikes, and their contact information. Sales associates should follow store procedures carefully and be able to locate inventory and documentation, and follow the business’ procedures for filing paperwork. They are also accountable for making sure the goods are displayed in an appealing and organized manner.
Sales associates must not only be efficient in dealing with difficult customers but also be able to make most if not all customers feel welcomed and valued. Better interpersonal skills greatly boost the worth of a sales associate, and hence they are given great importance by employers during the hiring process.
A retail sales associate must be able to effectively communicate with the customers the product details, and comfortably greet them and make small talk. Sales associates who are good at their jobs are easily able to identify exactly what the customers are looking for by paying close attention to what they are saying. So, listening skills are critical. Furthermore, people who are proficient in multiple languages will certainly have a command on the sales floor that caters to people from different cultures.
Although it may seem literacy skills will be easily overlooked in a sales associate job, this is not the case. Even though retail associates spend most of their time interacting with customers, they must have a high level of literacy in writing, reading, technology and math. Customers may ask about certain discounts and prices, requiring the associate to make quick calculations.
Similarly, sales associates running a sophisticated register system will need the primary skills required to effectively troubleshoot technical issues. Salespersons who maintain customer contact will require the ability to write letters and compose emails and SMS.
The ability to strike up a conversation and make eye contact with strangers is absolutely critical.
Obviously, public dealing can spark up unpleasant situations, like unnecessary arguments and nasty quarrels. A sales associate should be able to roll with the kicks without losing composure and be able to think of the consequences beforehand.
Ability to Multitask
Catering to customers may not always be as simple as standing and answering questions. Sales associates sometimes have to juggle customers’ needs and questions besides handling other store duties at the same time.
Again, dealing with the public may not always be agreeable. Having enough patience to follow the ‘the customer is always right’ phrase is highly critical to the growth and wellbeing of any business.
Sales reps should be fluent in having and maintaining a conversation and have the ability to devise quick answers and information when asked.
The customer may not always be right. However, they should always be treated with respect, even in the most challenging scenarios.
It is always a poor choice to wait until the customer is agitated before offering help. Being one step forward towards judging when someone needs assistance is the smartest way to avoid redundant annoyance and unpleasant situations.
There is no bigger a turn-off for customers than sales associates who fake their niceness. Pretending to be nice does nobody any favors but instead makes things awkward.
Keeping a smile plastered even in face of a long, hard day can make a whole world of difference not only in the eyes of customers but also team workers. A sales associate who is always lifting spirits of fellow workers is not only treasured internally but also by employers and the management.
Being able to gauge situations and look at things through the perspective of a customer is a highly valuable skill that will enable a sales associate to provide the highest and most satisfying degree of service to their customers and in turn lead to increased business sales and improved brand image.
Undeniably, sales associates do need to go through a soft-skills training program where their skills will be brushed up and new knowledge gained. However, what is more important is the worker’s attitude that eventually plays a key role in handling the customers and dealing with different situations. Since sales associates are the front-line representatives of a business, the first impression given by their actions and attitude will remain with the customers for a long time and determine whether they want anything to do with the business.
At the end of the day, it is all about the employee’s interaction with the customer. How that interaction turns out will eventually decide if the customer will buy from the store in the future and how will they refer the business to their family and friends, or turn around, never to come back again.