Sales representatives proactively market various types of products and services to consumers and business owners. Few colleges offer degree programs that are designed to prepare people to work in this field but some community colleges do offer short-term vocational sales representative training courses. Additionally, many large firms conduct in-house training, while some companies train people to work as sales representatives at other businesses.
While the responsibilities of a sales employee vary between companies, anyone involved in this profession must have some knowledge of basic negotiation techniques and business practices. The sales representative training classes offered by community colleges introduce attendees to closing techniques and different approaches to marketing products such as benefits based selling or telesales. Students also learn about customer service and concepts of professionalism. Other useful skills such as time management are also taught during these programs.
Many companies employ large numbers of people in sales roles in which case these individuals may receive in-house sales representative training from a corporate trainer. In such instances, the training curriculum is geared around the firm's own products and services rather than marketing techniques in general. Many firms have a code of conduct; all employees are expected to act in an ethical manner and to meet or exceed production goals without misleading clients or making false statements. Attendees are taught about the firm's expectations during training and the class facilitator also shares ideas and best practices that have been successfully used by long-term employees. In many instances, workers attend a series of classes each of which focuses on marketing a particular product.
Within specific industries, some independent companies organize training sessions for sales employees. One firm may arrange classes that are designed to prepare people to work as investment representatives while another may develop courses that are geared around preparing people to work as automobile sales workers. Some of these companies arrange programs that are held in neutral locations such as hotels and conference centers and workers from many different companies may attend a single session. In other instances, representatives of these companies may spend a few hours, days or weeks visiting plants and offices of a particular business and providing people with on-the-job training.
Aside from learning negotiation techniques and business principals, some sales people are required by law to undergo industry specific training. Those who sell pharmaceutical drugs or insurance products have to attend licensing and certification classes before they are able to market these products. The classes focus on disclosure laws and liability issues rather than closing techniques, but attendance at one of these courses is often a mandatory part of the sales representative training process.