"Opportunities abound for professionals looking to get started as a Sales Assistant," says Tasha Bollingh, recruitment consultant at staffing specialist Walters People. She explains what the responsibilities and career opportunities are in this position, what salary you can expect and in which sectors demand is currently highest.
What are the main duties of a Sales Assistant?
Sales Assistant is a very varied role, where you are responsible for commercial administration. Processing orders, drawing up and sending offers, drawing up contracts, maintaining the customer database and possibly even drawing up invoices or researching leads are some of the main tasks here.
"Furthermore, you are also a regular contact person for the clientele: you inform customers via email or phone about the status of orders, answer questions and handle complaints," adds Tasha. "You are also in close contact with suppliers and transport companies to follow up deliveries.
Internally, you work not only with the sales team, but also with customer service, accounting, marketing, planning, and so on. In small to medium-sized companies, we regularly see Sales Assistant as a kind of 'hybrid' function, in which you partly also take on the role of marketing assistant, planning assistant or customer service officer. Ideal for gaining extensive experience within the corporate world in a short space of time!"
What education and skills do you need to become a Sales Assistant?
Tasha: "For the position of Sales Assistant, organisations are usually looking for a candidate with a bachelor's degree, e.g. Office Management, Communication Management, ... We also regularly see that people with a very specific degree have an edge as a sales assistant, because a good understanding of the sector is useful for answering product questions or preparing quotations. For example, if you would like to start your career in an industrial organisation, a degree in engineering is a big plus. Do you aspire to have a sales career in the mobility sector? Then a bachelor's degree in Automotive Management or Automotive Technology is a strong plus for this.
However, more than the specific field of study, motivation and human skills are decisive when recruiting sales assistants. Among other things, strong communication skills are a must. You are in daily contact with various internal divisions and external partners and play a coordinating role. Are you bilingual Dutch/French and do you also speak some English? Then you will have an advantage with many organisations.
Furthermore, you must also be able to work accurately and be an expert in time management. After all, as a Sales Assistant you have a lot of things to follow up on and deadlines to meet.
Finally, software skills are also important: knowledge of MS Office is expected, with experience with Excel being a big advantage, and knowledge of CRM or ERP software."
What is the current demand for Sales Assistants?
"Sales Assistants are indispensable in any business - smooth sales administration and customer follow-up are essential for business," Tasha explains. "The demand for Sales Assistants is therefore very stable. Especially in sectors where companies are currently experiencing strong growth, especially environment and sustainability, energy, pharmaceuticals and mobility, the need for (inside) sales talent is high."
What are the career opportunities for a Sales Assistant?
"A good Sales Assistant is worth gold to the organisation. Many companies therefore offer interesting career paths tailored to your own ambitions and interests."
Are you totally bitten by sales? Then you can, for example, evolve into a job as an inside sales employee. From there, you can then grow further into the position of sales representative or account manager. Do you prefer to stay working in administration? Then you can work towards the role of Team Leader Administration or Office Manager."
How much does a Sales Assistant earn?
"With 0 to 3 years of experience, your gross monthly salary as a Sales Assistant is EUR 2,100 - EUR 2,700, depending on your education and skills. For example, as a recent graduate with a bachelor's degree and good language skills, you can expect a starting salary around EUR 2300 gross per month. If you have 3 to 6 years of experience, you could see your salary rise to EUR 2400 - EUR 3200 gross. Professionals with more than 6 years' experience can expect a gross salary of 2700 EUR - 3500 EUR.
The gross monthly salary is usually supplemented by an interesting package of fringe benefits, such as meal vouchers, laptop and mobile phone, group and hospitalisation insurance, and so on. Many employers nowadays have an eye for well-being in the workplace and work-life balance. This is reflected in the offer of telecommuting and sliding working hours, bicycle leasing, fruit baskets at work and healthy lunches. In addition, some organisations give their employees discounts on their products. In the mobility sector, for example, you can opt for a personal leasing car at very advantageous terms," concludes Tasha.