9 key sales executive responsibilities (with examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sales executives sell products or services to customers, including advice and recommendations that secure sales or contracts. They work across many industries and are the key contact between a business and its clients. Because the role is so fast-paced and complex, with a wide variety of responsibilities, if you're considering a career in sales, you can benefit from learning more about what the job entails. In this article, we outline the key sales executive responsibilities to help you decide if it's the right position for you.

9 sales executive responsibilities

Sales executive responsibilities go far beyond simply securing sales with clients. Here are the typical duties of a sales executive:

1. Build relationships with clients and customers

Sales executives develop relationships with prospective or existing buyers to understand their needs. Then, they pitch products or services to fulfil their needs. In business-to-business (B2B) sales, executives often build long-term relationships with clients to secure large sales, win major bids or ensure a steady stream of regular sales. It's important to keep track of each client's unique business needs and stay up to date with the latest events in their business or industry to provide timely promotions or advice.

In business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, relationships with customers are more short-term than with B2B, but it's still vital to develop a rapport, get to know the customer's needs and establish a connection. This builds trust and makes it easier for sales executives to make product recommendations that really resonate with customers. It also makes it easier for sales executives to reach out to customers in the future to pitch new products or upsell additional products or services.

Related: 5 sales pitch examples (with definitions and techniques)

2. Advise clients or customers

Sales executives have extensive knowledge of the products or services they sell to give advice to clients or customers. Sometimes prospective customers require more product information before feeling comfortable making a purchase. They may require help to choose specifications that suit their needs. When sales executives can easily answer questions about products and confidently make recommendations, they reveal their expertise and build trust with the customer.

Sales executives may give advice not only about the products or services they sell but about the wider industry. They check in with clients regularly to discuss industry developments and use this as an opportunity to determine whether the clients require any additional products or services.

3. Provide customer service

An important aspect of sales is delivering customer service because the sales executive is usually the primary contact between the organisation and clients. Sales executives often ask clients or customers to contact them if they have questions or if they experience any problems with the product or service. Where they can't find solutions to problems themselves, executives refer customers to technical support staff or other colleagues and monitor the situation until its resolution.

It's common for sales executives to conduct courtesy calls to check customer satisfaction after a sale. This demonstrates customer value, which can encourage return purchases in the future. It's also an opportunity to identify any problems and find solutions quickly or to upsell products or services.

4. Research the market and competition

Sales executives are almost always in competition with other businesses or suppliers and it's important for them to explain what makes their offering the best choice for the customer. It's beneficial to understand the competition and stay up to date with the latest trends or demands in the market. Sales executives conduct regular research into competitor pricing and product offerings to ensure their pitches are comparable or better. They also keep on top of industry developments and trends to understand what types of products or services are in demand.

It's common for sales executives to provide feedback to managers or buyers about the latest market developments and competitors. This research influences the development of new products or special offers to ensure the business keeps up with consumer demand. Since sales executives are in contact with consumers or clients daily, they're in the ideal position to seek direct feedback about what customers are looking for and establish whether the business's existing offerings are adequate.

Related: How to conduct market research (with types and benefits)

5. Negotiate on price, quantities and specifications

Negotiation is an important aspect of sales and sales executives carefully balance the needs of the client with the interests of their organisation to protect profit margins while achieving sales targets. They often liaise with senior management to seek approval for prices and service offerings, so it's important that they keep profitability in mind and carefully calculate margins when making offers to clients.

Besides negotiations on price, sales executives also negotiate on various other aspects of a deal, such as product specifications, quantities, delivery time frames, returns policies and extra perks or freebies. For example, a car sales executive may close a sale by offering free home delivery and a full tank of fuel. The provision of these extras has minimal impact on profits while ensuring the organisation doesn't miss out on a sale.

Related: The 7 most effective negotiation strategies in business

6. Create proposals and make bids for business

In some industries, securing sales takes a long time and requires extensive pitching over several months. This is particularly true for B2B sales executives who are usually responsible for things like creating proposals, writing bids and giving presentations to secure major contracts. The selling process can involve several steps and multiple meetings with various stakeholders.

Prospective clients usually dictate the bidding process when seeking suppliers, so it's beneficial for sales executives to learn what the client expects and create an appropriate proposal. They liaise with a variety of colleagues, such as senior managers, bid managers, marketing and communication executives and accountants, to pull together the relevant information to make the bid.

Related: What is a bid manager? (Plus skills and qualifications)

7. Attend trade shows, exhibitions or events

It's common for sales executives to attend trade shows, product exhibitions and other events where they can meet prospective clients and showcase products or services. Depending on the size and structure of their organisation, sales executives may organise their attendance, pulling together appropriate marketing materials, products and equipment and setting up their booth or pitch. While in attendance at shows and exhibitions, they give product demonstrations, collect information for prospective leads, process sales or orders, give presentations and conduct client meetings.

Trade shows are an excellent place for sales executives to meet with clients in person when relationships predominantly take place over the phone. There's often a social aspect to these large industry events which gives sales executives an opportunity to deepen their relationships with clients, and this can help them secure further business down the line. Plus, exhibitions are the perfect opportunity to identify competing businesses and learn more about the current state of the market.

8. Record sales figures and produce reports

Sales executives keep extensive records of their sales to ensure their organisation's accounts department can maintain accurate books. Sales records also help senior management check whether their team has met projected sales targets, identify new sales trends and source new opportunities. It's common for sales executives to record not only sales but any communications they have with clients so that the organisation has a thorough understanding of the relationship with the client if a different sales executive or other members of staff communicate with the client in the future.

After recording sales information, sales executives often produce reports about their sales progress. This is common for those in senior sales roles who lead a team of junior sales executives. Producing reports involves collecting data, creating graphs to display data and analysing the data to identify patterns or trends.

Related: Sales targets: what they are and how to create and use them

9. Liaise with suppliers, manufacturers and other third parties

It's useful that sales executives meet client expectations to protect long-standing relationships. To do this, they take care to make offers that their organisation can confidently fulfil and monitor the progress of orders to prevent delays or mistakes. They routinely liaise with suppliers, manufacturers and other external parties to check on production rates, order progress, delivery status and any other factors that influence the timely delivery of a product or service to a client.

Keeping in regular contact with suppliers and other parties also helps sales executives understand the limits of the offers they make to clients. This prevents them from over-promising and failing to deliver, which causes customer frustration. If clients have bespoke requests or are looking for rapid turnaround times, sales executives liaise extensively with suppliers to ensure it's possible to meet these needs before finalising contracts.

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