Sales associate job responsibilities

Last updated: July 23, 2024
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Eleana Bowman
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Sales associate job responsibilities
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In the U.S., there are 4,633,100 sales associate jobs. Sales associates work in a range of retail settings. For example, Walmart employs over 1.6 million sales associates. If you like working with customers and have a passion for sales, you may want to apply for a sales associate position in your area.

Before you start your job search, we’ll give you a rundown of what a sales associate is and what their most common job duties are.

We’ll tell you about the most important sales associate skills and how much you can expect to make in this position. Plus, we’ll give you our top resume tips!

What is a sales associate?

Sales and retail sales associates work with customers in a retail store. They help customers find what they're looking for, answer questions, and process payments.

Sales associates work in a range of industries, including automotive, fashion, books, cosmetics, electronics, and furniture. They need to be knowledgeable about the products they sell and give customers accurate information.

Sales associates may work full-time or part-time. Depending on the store, they may need to work more during peak holiday periods, such as around Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day. Some sales associates need to work nights and weekends.

What do you need to be a sales associate?

To work as a sales associate, you'll need

  • A high school diploma or GED. Most sales associate positions are entry-level, so you typically won't need previous work experience. When you start a new position, you can expect on-the-job training. But if you’ve worked in retail, sales, or customer service before, you’ll have an advantage.

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  • Excellent customer service skills, communication skills, and problem-solving skills. The job involves working with people and helping them make a purchase. You'll need basic math skills to work out discounts and give customers the correct change.

  • Approachable and professional appearance. You should be self-motivated, friendly, and reliable. Customers may not always make a purchase, so you’ll need to be persistent and resilient.

What does a sales associate do?

Let's take a look at some of the key responsibilities you may find in a sales associate job description.

1. Greet customers

Sales associates need to use their interpersonal skills to make sure shoppers have a positive customer experience.

One of their top responsibilities is greeting customers. Depending on the store, they may greet people when they enter the premises. They may also work on the sales floor, where they need to be ready to approach customers who need assistance.

When the sales associate greets customers, they may ask if the customer is looking for something in particular.

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2. Assist customers

Sales associates use their product knowledge and verbal communication skills to assist customers.

For example, shoppers may need help comparing products, or they might want to learn about a product’s features, pricing, and measurements. If an item is unavailable, the sales associate may need to put in a special order. They will also need to manage customer complaints.

3. Use point-of-sale systems

When a customer has chosen the products they want to purchase, the sales associate will meet them at the cash register.

They need to use a point-of-sale (POS) system to accept cash and credit cards. Sales associates will also need to process refunds, offer discounts, and redeem gift cards.

4. Display merchandise

Depending on the store, the sales associate may be responsible for merchandising. This in-store advertising includes product displays and promotional signs.

For example, someone working in a fashion store may style mannequins for the front window. When displaying product information, the sales associate will make sure it's relevant, accurate, and appealing.

5. Meet sales goals

In some retail stores, there will be sales targets and bonuses for top-performing staff. Part of the job is to be a salesperson and work towards company goals.

For example, a sales associate may work in a car dealership. The dealership may have a car sales target each month with a reward for the top seller. A successful sales associate will always follow company policies and be honest with their customers.

How much does a sales associate make?

The average salary for a sales associate is $13 - $16 per hour. The wage can vary depending on the industry.

Some employees get paid per hour, while others earn a commission. If you earn a commission, you’ll get a percentage of each sale that you close.

Resume tips for sales associate jobs

Before you apply for a job as a sales associate, make sure you have your cover letter and resume ready. To help you get through the application process, here are our top sales associate resume tips:

  • Include any relevant sales experience

  • Customize your resume to suit the retail sales associate job description

  • Add soft skills, such as customer service skills and interpersonal skills

  • Highlight an example of when you gave outstanding customer service

  • Address the cover letter to the hiring manager

  • Make sure your resume fits on one page

  • Check that your contact details are up to date

  • Read your resume out loud to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors

  • Include your availability to work weekends if you are able to

Where to find a job as a sales associate?

Are you interested in finding a sales associate position? There are likely numerous job postings in your area. You can browse sales associate vacancies or general sales vacancies on Jobcase’s job board.

Once you have some work experience, you can also apply for sales manager jobs.

Working as a sales associate

After reading this article, you should know about the top sales associate duties. Our list included greeting and assisting customers, using point-of-sale systems, displaying merchandise, and meeting sales goals.

We covered what qualifications and skills you need to be a sales associate and how much you can expect to make. We also gave you our top resume tips to help you with the application process.

You can start your search right here on Jobcase! We also have more tips for job seekers in our Getting Hired Resource Center.



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