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 or if you work in an online store. 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 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 emphasize prospecting and pipeline management. Instead, you focus on providing the best shopping experience for your customers.

Would working as a sales associate suit your customer service skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a sales associate role.

sales associate jobs

average sales associate salary

According to Job Bank, sales associates take home an average salary of $34,057 per year. When you are new to the role with minimal experience and qualifications, you start with a salary of $29,124 annually. As you improve your skills and gain experience, your earning prospects increase, and you can take home $46,209 yearly.

what factors influence the salary of a sales associate?

The earnings of a sales associate fluctuate depending on the duties performed and the qualifications expected in the role. When starting your career, you have minimal experience and qualifications, which lowers your salary expectations. You can negotiate a higher salary when you have prior experience in the role. The size of the company or retail store you work for also influences your earnings. When you work for a large retail store, you are likely to earn more since they have unlimited resources. Working in a store that sells high-end products like jewellery and electronic appliances can also increase your earnings. Selling electronic appliances requires additional product knowledge, and you demonstrate its uses, boosting your earnings.

Your location also dictates your earning potential. Working in large cities increases your salary prospects due to the high demand for sales associates. Some regions have more demand for sales associates and pay higher salaries. For instance, working in Alberta and Manitoba increases your earnings, but you will earn less in Yukon and Prince Edward Island.

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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 customers have a good shopping experience and use your sales skills to upsell products and increase profits.
  • sales floor associates: a sales floor is where products are displayed for customers to pick them. 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 of the offers and discounts available.
sales associate restocking goods on shelves in a supermarket
sales associate restocking goods on shelves in a supermarket

working as a sales associate

If you enjoy working in a customer-facing role, check out sales associates' specific duties and daily activities.


sales associate skills and education

A sales associate doesn't require educational qualifications to join the role, but the following requirements give you a competitive advantage:

  • high school diploma: you require at least a high school diploma to start working as a sales associate. You can also find short courses or certifications in sales or marketing to improve your employment prospects.
  • experience: while a sales associate is an entry-level job, you require a year of sales or retail experience. You can gain experience through volunteer programs and working part-time in sales roles.

competencies and characteristics of sales associates

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 customers 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 and involves solving problems during the sale process. Your creative problem-solving skills improve customer experience.
  • organization skills: as a sales associate, it is crucial to remember customer preferences, keep track of inventory and document the required paperwork. With multiple duties to juggle, you require a set schedule or system to monitor your activities. Your organizational skills help you complete work on time.
    retail software skills: as a sales associate, you use retail software to process customer payments and manage inventory. Being tech-savvy helps you perform your duties with ease. Proficiency in Microsoft Office is necessary, and you should know how to handle electronic registers and credit card processors.


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


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