Companies across all sectors employ sales professionals. Find out who the main graduate employers are and what areas of work you can enter...

What areas of sales can I work in?

Employment opportunities in sales can be grouped into:

  • business-to-business (B2B);
  • customer service;
  • direct/field sales;
  • export sales;
  • fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG);
  • IT sales;
  • media and advertising sales;
  • retail motor sales;
  • medical/scientific sales;
  • telesales.

Sales jobs can be found in all industries, including retail, finance, transport and manufacturing. You could also consider estate agents, travel agents and recruitment consultancies for sales-related roles. Depending on your interests you could be selling medical equipment, IT software, a holiday or a house.

For examples of job roles in the sector, see graduate jobs in sales.

Who are the main graduate employers?

Large companies, from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals, employ graduates in sales or customer service roles. These include:

  • Amazon
  • AstraZeneca
  • BT
  • easyJet
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Mars
  • Microsoft
  • Mondelēz International
  • Nestlé
  • Nissan
  • Philips
  • Schroders
  • Softcat
  • Unilever

There are also opportunities to work in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

What's it like working in the sector?

Graduates entering the sales sector can expect:

  • varied working environments, e.g. working in a sales department can be target driven, challenging and very busy. Field work or medical sales can involve long hours and being away from home. While working in telesales in a contact centre could involve regular office hours or split shifts;
  • a basic salary with a chance to earn more in commission for meeting targets. In some companies the level of commission that can be earned has no ceiling, providing very high salaries for talented sales employees;
  • an emphasis on creating, building and maintaining profitable customer relationships. This requires a certain mix of soft skills, including communication, diplomacy, confidence and the ability to deal with rejection;
  • to be judged by your results.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions, see job profiles.

What are the key issues in the sales sector?

In the future sales jobs will have a focus on web sales and customer interaction, leading to an increased demand for graduates with IT and relationship-building skills. Sales is now more to do with relationship management and consultative selling - a personalised service leading to repeat sales - rather than just clinching a deal.

Globalisation has led to increased competition and given the buyer more choice and power; therefore customer expectations are continuously rising with a demand for better customer service. This has led to customer service becoming an occupation in its own right, rather than just an after-sales service. It is also an area where graduates are recruited to management positions and some large companies offer customer service graduate schemes.

The rise of social media has meant that increasingly customers are taking to social media to complain to organisations. This requires a completely different approach form organisations and a new skill set from their employees.