5 Types of Sales Jobs: How to Choose the Right Career in Sales

photo of a female sales professional changing jobs

Sales is a lucrative career choice that comes with many benefits. There’s exceptional earning potential, a certain amount of work flexibility and the ability to shape shift your own career. It can also be very fulfilling, but only if you choose the right sales jobs.

What most people don’t realize is that sales is a massive field with different positions, including plenty of opportunities for growth and success. If talking to strangers and overcoming objections are two of your favorite things to do, you might find a great fit in sales.

The truth is, not all sales jobs are created equal. The role of a VP of Sales will look very different from that of an average sales rep. Different in terms of responsibilities, day to day tasks and of course, incomes. Now, the good news is that there’s a steady demand of sales professionals making the field a great choice for people looking to make use of their skills. Good for you!

With enough sales experience, sales reps may advance to become sales leads, sales managers, or sales directors. Median salary: $61,270 per year. Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in marketing, business, or a similar field. Skills required for success in sales include excellent customer service.

More Money, More Problems

By definition, salespeople are some of the most ruthless and ambitious lot you’ll ever come across. They’re wired to want more; more power, more clients, more quotas, more sales management promotions, and most importantly, more money. One of the leading sales directors in New York once told me that the mere mention of being head hunted for a fatter position still gets her wet (her words, just relaying the message).

Sure, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a heftier paycheck; that’s why we work right? However, it’s this tunnel-visioning of sales jobs based on more money that leads to all sorts of frustrated career decisions. By focusing only on the highest paying sales jobs, many candidates mistakenly give their employer all the power. They give it up hoping that not only will the employer see they have what it takes to succeed, but that they will automatically thrive in the role as well.

Needless to say, this logic is flawed. That’s why many companies struggle to hire the right people for sales roles. What this means is that candidates also share in the responsibility of determining whether they fit the role or not – salary notwithstanding. It’s up to you to figure out which role would fit your talents and skills like a sock. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 5 common types of sales jobs. Starting from entry level to the more tenured positions, we’ve include detailed job descriptions, average salaries, as well as the day to day roles and responsibilities.

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Five Types of Sales Jobs

1. Sales Development Representative (SDR)

New to the world of sales? Well, starting out as an SDR is a great entry level position. Almost all hiring companies don’t require candidates to have any previous experience in sales. This makes the SDR position appealing to people either looking to change career paths or straight out of college.

SDR Roles and Responsibility

As a sales development rep, your main task is to prospect and move leads through the sales pipeline. Some of the typical day to day responsibilities here include emailing, lead qualification, cold calling among others. Companies generally want candidates that are eager to learn, highly ambitious, and strong team players that are also easy to coach.

SDR Salary

Research shows that as of 2019, the average base salary for a sales development rep in U.S. is $50,000 a year. This figure doesn’t include commissions, bonuses and additional compensation.

2. Inside Sales Rep

Not to be confused with inbound sales, inside selling has to do with where exactly the sales activities are taking place. An inside sales rep tends to work exclusively behind a computer – usually in the office or at home.

Inside Sales Rep Roles and Responsibilities

Generally, inside sales reps use CRM s to conduct a large portion of their sales activities. Hiring managers look for traits such as the ability to multitask, strong writing skills, and proficiency with CRM. The day to day responsibilities of an inside seller includes:

  • Prospecting, cold calling and emailing
  • Qualifying leads
  • Following up with prospects
  • Closing deals
  • Storing and tracking customer data in CRM

Inside Sales Rep Salary

Authoritative sources list the average salary for inside sales reps in the US at $50,483 per year as of 2019. While commissions are not included, it’s worth noting that this position holds an average yearly commission of $10,000.

3. Account Executive

Getting promoted to account executive is the next natural step for SDRs and other entry level positions. As the name suggests, candidates are expected to take more ownership of their accounts as well as more complex tasks such as identifying new opportunities.

Account Executive Roles and Responsibilities

Typically, this position comes with responsibilities such as generating leads, upselling current clients, forecasting sales and bringing in new business. Account execs need to be proficient with internal sales tools and have a great track record of closing deals and hitting quotas.

Account Exec Salary

Research shows that the average salary for account executives in 2019 is $67,500. However, the executives tend to get much heftier commissions of $23,000 each year.

4. Sales Manager

Sales managers are just below directors in terms of seniority. Generally, it’s the manager’s job to implement any strategy or vision from the director. Sales managers therefore oversee the sales team directly, monitoring all rep activities and ensuring all goals are met.

Sales Manager Roles and Responsibilities

Obtaining a managerial role calls for extensive knowledge of exactly how the sales process works. The day to day tasks of a manager include overseeing all activities, monitoring KPIs and refocusing sales reps to stay on target.

Sales Manager Salary

As of 2019, the average salary for sales managers in the U.S. is $79, 750 annually. Like account executives, sales managers also boast of a hefty commission totaling $23,000 a year.

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5. Sales Director

This is among the more tenured roles that require quite a lot of skills and experience in the world of sales. Sales directors, including the vice president (VP) of sales, are responsible for recruiting new talent and leading the sales team. Becoming a director calls for years of experience in management as well as an extensive background in sales. Sales directors also play a crucial role in researching new products and analyzing sales data to drive growth and ensure client satisfaction.

Sales Director Roles and Responsibilities

Sales directors occupy a much more strategic role than the other types. So if you prefer a complex leadership role, this is the one for you. The main roles include forecasting sales, reporting, creating great sales strategies, onboarding reps and training managers.

Sales Director Salary

On average, sales directors in the U.S. make about $97,800 every year. That, plus a massive commission of $30,000 per year to keep them motivated.

Final Thoughts for Aspiring Salespeople

Now that you have an idea of the different types of sales jobs available, finding the right job that best suits your talents and goals for a sales career should be much easier. Make use of multiple job boards and try different search techniques when looking for employment. Picture what your life will be like in your desired role. Do you still see yourself thriving after a decade?

But no matter which sales position you’re seeking, one thing is clear. You’ll need the right sales tools, like a customer relationship management platform, to help you maneuver through your new job seamlessly. For sales managers, inside sales reps and directors who have already set their sights on the market leading CRM software (ie. Salesforce), you’ll also need Veloxy Mobile to help your Sales Reps in the field save time, stay on task and get more out of Salesforce than they put in.

And for SDRs who use Outlook or Gmail for their corporate email, Veloxy Engage puts Salesforce data right in your email interface. The add-on enables CAN-SPAM compliance, bulk email, templates, email tracking, analytics and much more. Naturally, this will make taking up any role that much easier.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What skills are required for a successful career in sales?

A successful career in sales requires strong communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to build relationships and rapport with clients, resilience and perseverance in the face of rejection, negotiation skills, a competitive spirit, and a results-driven mindset.

What Is a Sales Engineer & How Do You Become One?

A sales engineer is a technical professional who combines their knowledge of engineering principles and products with sales and customer service skills. They work closely with customers to understand their needs, provide technical expertise, and recommend solutions that meet those needs. Sales engineers often work in industries such as manufacturing, technology, or software, where they sell complex or technical products.

To become a sales engineer, you typically need a strong background in engineering or a related field. This can be achieved through a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a similar discipline. In addition to technical knowledge, sales engineers also need strong communication and interpersonal skills to effectively communicate with customers and build relationships.

Many sales engineers gain experience through internships or entry-level positions in technical roles before transitioning into sales engineering. This allows them to develop their technical expertise while also gaining exposure to the sales process. Some companies may also provide training programs specifically for sales engineers to further develop their skills in both technical and sales areas.

Overall, becoming a sales engineer requires a combination of technical knowledge, communication skills, and an understanding of the sales process. It is a rewarding career path for individuals who enjoy working with both people and technology.


Samir Majumdar

Samir Majumdar

Samir is the CEO and Co-founder of Veloxy. After spending 20+ years creating corporate systems, boosting revenue, and eliminating inefficiencies, Samir started Veloxy to help sales professionals shorten sales cycles, accelerate pipelines, and close more deals.

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