what is a sales associate?

A sales associate is the point of contact for customers looking to buy items from a company. Sales associate job duties vary depending on the type of business you work for. You are often expected to perform customer service duties, including greeting customers and helping them find merchandise that meets their needs. Sales associates also help customers locate services like deliveries and sales. You are responsible for closing down your department at the end of the day, performing inventory checks and cleaning up your department's space.

As a sales associate, you require excellent customer service, communication and team-building skills. You work in locations ranging from brick-and-mortar shops to online outlets. Depending on your location, you help customers in person or online through email or chat. An average retail business usually has multiple sales associates working together.

Unlike other roles in sales, you don't emphasise prospecting and sales pipeline management. Instead, you focus on providing the best shopping experience for your customers.

sales associate jobs

average salary of a sales associate

The average remuneration of a sales associate is $60,000 per year. At an entry-level role, you have minimal experience and are likely to earn $55,000 annually. As you improve your experience and learn new skills, your earnings increase to over $65,000 yearly. Your remuneration may also be based on performance with sales bonuses for meeting targets.

As a sales associate, your salary depends on the type of work you do. For instance, a retail sales associate earns an average salary of $58,000 annually. Their job is to assist customers in retail shops and outlets. When you have additional responsibilities, you are likely to earn more. Aside from your duties, your salary depends on the company's size. Working in a large retail outlet increases your remuneration prospects.

Sales associates' salaries also depend on their experience level and qualifications. When you have years of experience, you earn more compared to a sales associate starting in the role. While the job requires minimal educational qualifications, having some training can boost your earnings.

Want to know more about what you will earn as a sales associate? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.

sales associate jobs

types of sales associates

Some of the types of sales associates include:

• retail sales associates: when you work in a retail outlet as a sales associate, you welcome customers and direct them to the items they are looking for. You ensure the customers have a good shopping experience and use your sales skills to upsell products and increase profits.

• sales floor associates: a sales floor where products are displayed for customers to view. As a sales floor associate, you work in the shopping aisles to answer customer questions and help them make purchase decisions. You explain product features and inform them about available offers and discounts.

Close up - Smiling man looking away.
Close up - Smiling man looking away.

working as a sales associate

As a sales associate, you serve customers in retail shops and outlets. Discover the duties, responsibilities and work schedules of a sales associate.


education and skills

A sales associate doesn't require educational qualifications, but the following academic qualifications and experience will boost your job prospects:

• tertiary education and training: to become a sales associate, education training qualification like a Certificate III in retail gives you a competitive edge. The qualification takes one year, and you can take it as part of a traineeship as you work. If you want additional qualifications, consider completing a Certificate IV in retail management or a Certificate IV in business. The added skills improve your qualifications and increase your chances of getting a better role.

• experience: retail or sales experience also helps boost your prospects. For instance, you can become a retail store assistant to gain skills before becoming a sales associate.

sales associate skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a sales associate include the following:

• communication skills: since this is a customer-facing role, you require exceptional communication skills to interact well with people. Communication skills help you engage people from different backgrounds in a friendly and approachable manner.

• expert knowledge of the products: you require a deep understanding of products in the store to develop the expertise to explain product features and answer customer questions. Your product knowledge can persuade customers to make purchases.

• creative problem-solving skills: creating an engaging environment for buyers is important, which involves solving problems during the sale process. Your creative problem-solving skills improve customer experience.

• customer service skills: your job is to assist customers with shopping. You use your customer service skills to provide professional help to visitors. 

• analytical skills: as a sales associate, you identify trends in the retail store and find ways to fulfil the gaps in customer needs. When you use your analytical skills to determine the trends, you can create the ideal storefront arrangement to boost sales. You also determine seasonal products to sell.

• maths skills: as a sales associate, your job involves handling transactions and processing payments. Your maths skills enable you to calculate payments correctly and give customers accurate change.

• organisational skills: as a sales associate, you coordinate various tasks, and organisational skills help you complete tasks efficiently. Organisational skills also help you easily organise the shelves and manage product details to visual merchandising: making shelves more accessible and attractive to customers.


FAQs about working as a sales associate

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the sales associate profession.

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