Sales are vital to any commercial organisation, and directly affects their success. It involves selling products or services to customers, and maximising the profit on those sales, or the volume sold.

Explore job roles

Roles can be very well paid with bonuses given for successful sales. With this comes pressure to achieve results, so potential salespeople need an ability to thrive in a competitive environment.

Roles exist in some form in most sectors, including some specialisms which require technical understanding of the product being sold. Sectors with sales roles include IT, finance, manufacturing, health, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), transport, energy, creative and recruitment.

Use the job profiles below to find out about, skills, entry routes and experience

Related careers

Building skills and experience

Use the job profiles above to check which skills are normally needed for the roles you are interested in.

Use our transferable skills pages to explore ways to gain the top skills employers are looking for.

Gain relevant skills and experience while you study

An essential part of being successful in sales is having good negotiation and communication skills and the ability to establish a rapport and build relationships. There are many opportunities to develop sales skills alongside your studies that will help you to get a job after graduating and also give you a sense of whether this is a career you would enjoy.

  • Work experience in customer service or sales roles shows the ability to communicate and meet the needs of customers, skills that are essential working in sales. Look for part time and vacation jobs in retail, call centres or any customer service or sales environment on CareerConnect.
  • Volunteering in a fundraising role for a charity is good work experience as it shows your ability to communicate, convince and get donations.
  • Experience related to preparing for and pitching a proposal shows the ability to research and communicate in a persuasive manner. Opportunities to gain this type of experience may arise in an internship, placement or by entering a competition that involves pitching.
  • Student ambassador roles and work completed as part of a student society can show your ability to recruit more members or provide information clearly and concisely.
  • Develop and practice negotiation and persuasion skills during positions of responsibility at university, such as being a member of a halls of residence committee or a student representative on a staff-student liaison committee.
  • It is useful to demonstrate product knowledge in any sales role, as a large part of the job is providing customers accurate information which results in a purchase. It is particularly advantageous to develop product knowledge if you are interested in specialist technical roles (e.g. IT or medical sales). Develop product knowledge by exploring the website or store of the brand you are applying to, and also their competitors.

Finding and applying for jobs

The majority of sales positions will be advertised as immediate start vacancies and can occur at any time of year. Check the jobs page on websites of companies that interest you as well as job boards. Some large companies offer graduate schemes in sales.

Find vacancies

Further resources

Next steps

When planning your next steps you may have additional questions or want to explore certain aspects in more detail: