Every month at Walters People, we put a popular job in the spotlight. This month, we focus on Sales Assistant, a highly sought-after and indispensable role within sales.
What makes someone a good Sales Assistant? Does a Sales Assistant also work on a commission-based salary? And where can we find the best career opportunities? We asked Alexandra Van Oost, Consultant in the Business Support division and expert on the matter.
What does a Sales Assistant do exactly?
Alexandra: “a Sales Assistant acts as the right hand of the entire sales team. While the sales team is mainly on the move to acquire new clients, the Sales Assistant stays in the office to provide administrative support to the team. The range of tasks is very broad: from preparing sales agreements and encoding orders to providing extra information when clients ask for it, inventory management and following up on unpaid invoices. In some organisations, a Sales Assistant is also involved in market research for new prospects and planning the sales team’s agenda.”
Which skills are required to become a successful Sales Assistant?
“Clients expect to be served in their own language, so a thorough knowledge of both Dutch and French is essential for a Sales Assistant. Knowledge of English is certainly a plus, especially in international organisations. The pure sales skills are less relevant in the role of a Sales Assistant, but enthusiasm, customer focus and strong listening skills are all the more important. In addition, the sales team expects their Assistant to work proactively, to show a problem-solving attitude and empathy towards clients and to know the products inside & out. In more busy periods, it is important to be able to set priorities and be well-organised and stress resistant. Last but not least, knowledge of MS Office with Excel and PowerPoint in particular are essential when a product presentation or a sales results report needs to be prepared for the team.”
What salary can a Sales Assistant expect?
“If you have just completed a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing or any commercially-oriented education and you start your first job as a Sales Assistant, you can count on a gross salary of 2000-2300 EUR per month. A professional with 3-5 years of experience in a previous sales support role will earn 2500-2800 EUR gross per month. From the moment you have more than 6 years of experience, you can count on a gross monthly salary up to 3500 EUR. Extra-legal advantages such as lunch vouchers or a transportation allowance are often part of the salary package as well and in some organisations, a discount on the company’s products is also provided."
Maybe you have a certain commercial flair, but the pressure of monthly sales targets scares you off? Then it’s interesting for you to know that the salary of a Sales Assistant is fixed and not determined by targets that may or not be achieved.
What are possible career opportunities for Sales Assistants?
Many organisations have their sales department based in Flanders or work on a Benelux level, meaning the demand for Dutch-speaking Sales Assistants is high. Remarkably, this is also the case in Walloon Brabant: French-speaking Sales Assistants are easy to find in the region, but Dutch professionals do not tend to look for a job based in the Brabant Walloon region. And yet, there are a lot of advantages, for example, if you live in the Leuven region but you’re reluctant to face the daily traffic jams to Brussels, it is certainly worthwhile checking out sales jobs in Brabant Walloon. It is important not to focus on distance and kilometres, but rather on travel time. Applications like Waze are an ideal tool to get an idea of how long it will take you to commute during rush hour.
If you decide, as a Dutch-speaking professional, to take on a new job in the French speaking part of Belgium, you will most likely end up in a mainly French-speaking team. But on the other hand, that offers you the opportunity to become the real go-to person for Dutch-speaking clients and the sales team and there will be undoubtedly unique opportunities for you to grow within the organisation like for example to a more internal sales role.”