Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
A high school diploma is typically sufficient for many positions, primarily those selling nontechnical or scientific products. However, representatives selling scientific and technical products usually must have a bachelor’s degree. Scientific and technical products include pharmaceuticals, medical instruments, and industrial equipment. A degree in a field related to the product sold, such as chemistry, biology, or engineering, is sometimes required.
Training Required
Many companies have formal training programs for beginning wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives. These programs may last up to 1 year. In some, trainees rotate among jobs in plants and offices in order to learn all phases of producing, installing, and distributing the product. In others, trainees receive formal technical instruction at the plant, followed by on-the-job training under the supervision of a field sales manager.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 6% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Advancement
Frequently, promotion takes the form of an assignment to a larger account or territory, for which commissions are likely to be greater. Those who have good sales records and leadership ability may advance to higher level positions, such as sales manager, sales supervisor, district manager, or vice president of sales.
Licenses/Certifications
The Certified Professional Manufacturers’ Representative (CPMR) certification and the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) certification are both offered by the Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF). Certification typically involves completing formal technical training and passing an exam. In addition, the CPMR requires 10 hours of continuing education every year in order to maintain certification.
Median pay: How much do Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives make?
$60,530 Annual Salary
$29.10 per hour

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain the features of the products they are selling, negotiate prices, and answer any questions that their customers may have about the products.

What do Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives do?

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives typically do the following:

  • Identify prospective customers by using business directories, following leads from existing clients, and attending trade shows and conferences
  • Contact new and existing customers to discuss their needs and explain how specific products and services can meet these needs
  • Help customers select products to meet customers’ needs, product specifications, and regulations
  • Emphasize product features that will meet customers’ needs, and exhibit the capabilities and limitations of their products
  • Answer customers’ questions about the prices, availability, and uses of the products they are selling
  • Negotiate prices and terms of sales and service agreements
  • Prepare sales contracts and submit orders for processing
  • Collaborate with colleagues to exchange information, such as information on selling strategies and marketing information
  • Follow up with customers to make sure that they are satisfied with their purchases and to answer any questions or concerns they might have

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives—sometimes called manufacturers’ representatives or manufacturers’ agents—generally work for manufacturers or wholesalers. Some work for a single organization, while others represent several companies and sell a range of products.

Unlike retail sales workers, who sell goods directly to consumers, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives deal with businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.

Some wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives work with nonscientific products, such as food, office supplies, and clothing. Other representatives specialize in technical and scientific products, ranging from agricultural and mechanical equipment to computer and pharmaceutical goods.

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives who lack expertise about a given product frequently team with a technical expert. In this arrangement, the technical expert—sometimes a sales engineer—attends the sales presentation to explain the product and answer questions or concerns. The sales representative makes the initial contact with customers, introduces the company’s product, and obtains final agreement from the potential buyer.

By working with a technical expert, the representative is able to spend more time maintaining and soliciting accounts and less time seeking technical knowledge.

After the sale, representatives may make followup visits to ensure that equipment is functioning properly and may even help train customers’ employees to operate and maintain new equipment.

Those selling consumer goods often suggest how and where merchandise should be displayed. When working with retailers, they may help arrange promotional programs, store displays, and advertising.

In addition to selling products, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives analyze sales statistics, prepare reports, and handle administrative duties such as filing expense accounts, scheduling appointments, and making travel plans.

Staying up to date on new products and the changing needs of customers is important. Sales representatives accomplish this aim in a variety of ways, including attending trade shows at which new products and technologies are showcased. They attend conferences and conventions to meet other sales representatives and clients and to discuss new product developments. They also read about new and existing products and monitor the sales, prices, and products of their competitors.

The following are examples of types of wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives:

Careers for Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

  • Bottling equipment sales representatives
  • Chemical sales representatives
  • Electroplating sales representatives
  • Freight brokers
  • Hotel supplies salespersons
  • Inside sales representatives
  • Manufacturers' representatives
  • Mortician supplies sales representatives
  • Outside sales representatives
  • Pharmaceutical detailers
  • Surgical instruments sales representatives
  • Wholesale diamond brokers
  • Wholesale ultrasonic equipment salespersons

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