Sales executives work in a range of commercial sectors, selling goods and services to a wide range of clients. The main two disciplines involved are business to business and business to consumer sales.
Employment agencies often have very different approaches to hiring sales executives. While there aren't usually any specific qualifications required for a career in sales, selling technical goods and services - such as engineering, pharmaceuticals and technology - will probably require formal qualifications or experience in the specific discipline.
Sales staff come from many walks of life, including business, marketing and management. Those with recognised media qualifications, language skills and IT competencies also stand an excellent chance of succeeding as a sales executive. While many companies and recruiters simply want to see evidence of selling skills, larger corporations will usually be looking for personnel with degrees in relevant disciplines.
The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector accounts for a huge number of sales executive jobs, and employers include those in the food, tobacco and technology industries. In the UK, companies such as Cadbury's, British Imperial Tobacco and Samsung offer hundreds of employment opportunities. Business to business sales executives can also find opportunities in the advertising, financial and pharmaceutical sectors, working for large corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline and Procter & Gamble.
Sales executives are accountable for their results, and they often spend a great deal of time on the road. Applicants for positions in sales should be prepared to sacrifice some private time, spend long periods away from home and work under constant scrutiny. However, candidates who demonstrate the right qualities can earn anything between £18,000 and £100,000 per year, as well as generous, performance-related bonuses.