Highest-Paying Sales Jobs: Descriptions, Salary, and Skills
Sales jobs span the spectrum, touching nearly every industry in the market. Pursuing a sales career can have its pros and cons. However, if you have the right skill set, you might find sales is a lucrative and rewarding career. In fact, there are plenty of high-paying sales jobs out there, if you know where to look.
What Is a Sales Job?
Many people still have the “old-school” idea of what a sales job looks like: lots of cold-calling and client dinners. While some sales jobs require wining and dining potential new clients, that’s generally not the core function of a sales job.
The primary function of a sales job is to sell a customer your product. And while you could sell a physical product, like a widget, you might also sell “answers to problems,” like software. However, sales jobs entail more than selling these “things.” Long after you’ve closed the sale, you’ll likely maintain a long-term relationship with your client.
Salespeople consult with clients, helping them succeed in their business with (and without) your product. This requires salespeople to develop in-depth relationships with their customers. It also means salespeople have to build trust. After all, if a client doesn’t trust you, why would they buy your product?
The Different Kinds of Sales Jobs
There are many different types of sales jobs. Some focus on building new client relationships, while others focus on maintaining existing client relationships.
While this isn’t a “type” of sales role, it is important to understand the distinction between B2B and B2C roles. In a business-to-business sales role (B2B), you’ll sell your product to other companies. In general, salespeople in these roles make their pitch before groups of people. And, the salesperson may have to make the same pitch to multiple levels of decision-makers.
In a business-to-consumer role (B2C), you sell the product directly to consumers. B2C roles encompass a wide range of sales jobs. Of course, it includes industries like retail (both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce). And it includes direct sales companies (like Avon or Warby Parker). However, B2C roles can also include things like real estate or pharmaceutical sales, which are both high-paying sales jobs.
Some companies have both roles. This may give you the opportunity to try out both jobs and learn new skill sets.
This is an entry-level sales role. Working in sales support, you will support the sales reps as they attempt to close the sale with clients. You handle the details a sales rep may not have time for. For example, you might create a budget or time line for project implementation. Or, you might research the client to help the sales rep understand what the client needs most from your company.
In this role, you are responsible for finding and building a pipeline of potential new clients. Most salespeople in new business development cold call (or, more likely, cold email) prospective clients and begin the business relationship. However, in general, this position does not “close the deal.” Once the client is interested in purchasing your product, a new business sales rep passes the prospective client to a sales rep (who guides the client toward the right product).
While not a traditional sales job, account managers do a fair amount of “selling.” Part of the sales rep pitch likely includes talk of “customer support,” and that’s where the account manager comes in.
An account manager helps the client implement the new product and handles any issues that arise. They may provide training or ongoing technical support while they have a relationship with the customer. And, when the customer isn’t happy, it’s up to the account manager to do what they can to solve the problem.
All of these tasks are part of an ongoing “sale” to the customer. The focus here, however, is on client retention. Keeping the client happy and retaining them as a customer is the ultimate goal.
An account executive is the role that is closest to “salesperson.” As an account executive, you present, pitch, and try to “close the deal.” While some account executives may prospect for new clients, most get their clients from the new business reps. And, once an account executive has sold the client, they pass that client over to an account manager. This can frequently be a high-paying sales job.
High-Paying Sales Jobs
The highest-paying sales jobs are in a variety of fields (and don’t always require a fancy degree). In these jobs, you can earn over $100,000 a year. However, depending on the sales job, you won’t start at $100,000. You may have to work for several years before you start earning that amount.
Also, sales is unique in that many roles pay commission. Every time you make a sale, you are paid a percentage of that sale. Commission amounts vary by job and by industry. And while some jobs pay you a base salary (a guaranteed amount no matter how much commission you earn) plus commission, some jobs only pay you a commission. If you don’t sell anything, you don’t get paid.
You may have dreams of million-dollar listings. However, real estate is more than slapping a “For Sale” sign in front of a house and letting the offers roll in. Real estate agents have to be experts in their local markets. They develop marketing plans that get the property sold for the most amount of money in the least amount of time. And, real estate agents have to navigate the emotions of an extremely large and personal purchase.
Earning potential: Top-selling agents can earn nearly $165,000 a year. However, most agents average closer to $56,860. Unlike many other high-paying sales jobs, you only need a high school diploma (and certain licenses) to enter the field. However, your earnings are based entirely on your commissions. The more homes you sell, the more money you can earn.
While many product sales jobs are “hands-on,” meaning you demonstrate the product, in medical sales, there’s a deeper level of product demonstration in this high-paying sales job. While a demonstration could be you hitting play on a video, it’s likely a video of the product in action (and not an animation). And, in rare cases, you may work with a doctor in a real-life scenario to help them understand how the product works. So, while lucrative, this may not be a field for the squeamish.
Earning potential: Depending on the company, your base salary may be as much as $70,000 or as little as $0. However, when you factor in commission, many medical sales professionals make as much as $200,000 to $300,000 a year.
As online ads and marketing continue to grow, the demand for salespeople in this niche is expected to increase. Unlike print or broadcast sales, digital media sales require a deep understanding of data analysis. You need to be able to pinpoint exactly what is and is not working with a client’s ad campaign. And, you need to provide solutions to your client and enact the solutions quickly.
Earning potential: Base salary can be anywhere from $117,000 to $135,000 with additional commissions of $130,000 to $220,000.
Whether it’s hardware, software, or even tech support, technology isn’t going anywhere. As a sales engineer, you’ll sell clients software, hardware, and technology solutions. However, anyone considering a sales engineer career must have some technical background to be considered for the job. You don’t need a degree in computer science, but you do need some relevant education or work experience.
Earning potential: Base salary starts between $50,000 and $141,000, but with commissions, you can earn anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million a year.
How to Get Ahead in Sales Jobs
Whether you’re eyeing the corner office or just want to win that month’s sales contest, the sales industry is dynamic and fluid, requiring you to stay ahead of the curve. Maybe you’ve heard of the ABCs of sales: Always Be Closing. But, perhaps you should ABL: Always Be Learning.
To get ahead and stay ahead in sales, continue your education. You don’t have to go to a fancy MBA program, though. You can take advantage of continuing education classes. Or, you can talk to successful salespeople in your company or your network and see what they do to stay on top.
Make sure you keep up on changes. This doesn’t just mean company changes. Stay aware of industry changes, and even technology changes, so you aren’t caught off guard in client meetings. Having up-to-date knowledge will not only demonstrate how knowledgeable you are, it will also help you offer the right solution to your client.
Searching for High-Paying Sales Jobs
Many individuals and companies will need to buy “stuff” for the foreseeable future. But the trend in sales is not a “one and done” deal. Most salespeople build a trusting relationship with their clients and maintain that relationship for years.
FlexJobs is a great place to find high-quality sales jobs. Our listings all have some component of work flexiblity, whether it be remote work, a flexible schedule, part-time hours, or a freelance gig. Check out our main sales category, and peruse our six subcategories to help narrow down your search: business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), insurance sales, medical sales, sales representative, and software sales.
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