Career Profile: Wholesale Representative

What does a Wholesale Representative do?

A career as a wholesale representative involves selling products in bulk. The responsibilities of this job include giving sales presentations, preparing sales paperwork, analyzing sales trends, and assisting customers with product issues. In some organizations, wholesale representatives also play a role in merchandising products or promoting sales by distributing incentives to customers. Cold calling and traveling to meet with potential customers are often required. A wholesale representative may work for any company that sells products in high volumes, such as a promotional products manufacturer or a medical device company.

Degrees and Experience Needed

The education, skills, and experience needed for this job vary based on the type of product being sold. An employer may require a wholesale representative to have a bachelor’s degree if the company sells high-tech products or products made for the medical or pharmaceutical industries. If the company sells general products, a high school diploma is usually sufficient. Taking college courses in sales and marketing can help a wholesale representative learn new skills and qualify for future promotions.

Sales experience is very helpful for anyone who wants to become a wholesale representative. Many companies also have formal training programs to help new hires learn about the products and understand how to sell them successfully. Some employers may also require professional certification. The Certified Sales Professional (CSP) and Certified Professional Manufacturer’s Representative (CPMR) designations may give candidates an edge over non-certified sales professionals.

Wholesale representatives must have excellent communication skills, as they have regular contact with customers, colleagues, and managers. Strong organizational skills are also important, as a representative may handle dozens of customer accounts. Wholesale representatives must also be able to work independently, as they may travel to customer sites to present information or provide assistance. Persuasiveness is a necessary quality for this job, as a representative must be able to overcome objections from potential customers in order to meet sales goals.

How Much Does a Wholesale Representative Make?

In 2010, the median annual salary for a wholesale representative in the United States was $52,440, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This does not include representatives who work with scientific and technical products. The median annual salary for wholesale representatives of scientific and technical products was $73,710. Annual salary can vary significantly based on geographic location, education, and experience level. If all else is equal, a wholesale representative in New York City will earn more than a representative in Kansas simply because the cost of living in New York is much higher. Many wholesale representatives also earn commissions, so selling a lot of products can add thousands of dollars to a representative’s base salary.

Future Prospects

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in this industry is expected to grow about as fast as average, making a career as a wholesale representative a viable option for someone with good communication skills and the ability to sell products in large quantities.