8 skills needed in a sales associate

The job descriptions of sales associates vary as per their functional roles and the organizations they are employed in.

A sales associate may work as a cashier, customer service representative, a restocker of inventory, or any other role based on their organizational requirements. 

It doesn’t matter what the titled role of a sales associate is, their primary responsibility is to facilitate customers in a retail setting.

If you start as a sales associate, you can either progress vertically in the same field in the current or another organization.

Alternatively, you can choose to diversify your career by moving into other related fields like marketing, trade marketing, or brands. 

The skills that are needed to succeed as a sales associate can either be specific to your organization or generic to the field of sales. The top 8 skills required for you to succeed as a sales associate are:

  1. Money handling skills: As a sales associate, you are bound to handle customer transactions. This involves sales execution, cash handling, and catering to credit card transactions.

 You must have enough knowledge to handle the cash register, conduct basic accounting for transactions and be able to use MS Office effectively. 

Any sort of monetary transaction execution should be right up your sleeve. You must know of the level of accountability given to you with respect to the reconciliation of cash or credit card-based transactions. 

  • Customer Service Skills: These fall under the domain of people skills required to

succeed as a sales associate. Since you will be a customer-facing resource, you need to be able to develop customer relationships and communication in the right manner. 

You will need to master the skill of verbal and written communication. This would include guiding customers regarding their purchases, providing help to customers who need assistance (aged customers), dealing calmly with difficult customers, writing well-structured emails, and managing sales-related records. 

Sometimes the communication requirements of a sales associate go beyond the generic job description and you are even responsible for developing visual displays to create brand personas for your store’s products.

The absence of these basic customer service skills can really impact your performance as a sales associate for any organization. 

  • Adequate Product and Service knowledge: A sales associate will not be successful at their job if they do not have the necessary product or service knowledge. 

In-depth knowledge of your product portfolio makes you more efficient at your job, and you will be able to provide customers with the needed assistance to make their purchase decisions. 

If you perform well in this domain as a sales associate, you will be able to ensure that your customers are satisfied and make repeated purchases at your outlet. This translates into higher and a more stable revenue stream for your employer.

Even basic guidance about which aisle is a particular product in, explaining the store’s return and exchange policy to facilitate the customer, or informing them about discounts they can avail, increases the overall shopping experience for them. 

This reflects product awareness, brand awareness, and store service knowledge by you as a sales associate.

  • Sales executing skills: Sales executing skills comprise facilitating the sale of a product the customer has chosen, encouraging them to buy more products, or trying to sell them a particular product to attain sales targets. 

You should have amazing relationship-building skills along with the ability to give attention to detail to succeed in this area. If you lack the required knowledge about what exactly your store sells, you will have a difficult time tracking the sales and inventory of different products. 


You will need to have knowledge about how much of your sales targets have you achieved, the execution of required merchandising activities, and actions that need to be undertaken to attain set out KPIs.

You should have the skills to closely monitor sales, be persuasive to generate sales for required products, and have good relationship-building skills.

  • Strong Personality: The Sales associate job is one that does require you to have certain personality traits. In order to be able to perform well in this role, you should be reliable, efficient in your work, and have the ability to cater to multiple tasks at one point in time. 

You will be expected to take initiatives outside the formally defined responsibilities of your role, be a good team player, have a motivating spirit, and have cordial relationships with your coworkers. 

sales associate

Your liner manager should be able to trust you with the ability to follow required instructions, remain punctual, and have a positive attitude in the workplace. 

  • Cultural sensitivity: Working in the retail industry will expose you to a diverse set of individuals, which would include your team members and your customers. 

The role of a sales associate will require you to be highly sensitive to people of different cultures. You will need to have knowledge about the basic beliefs of different cultures in order to not offend them unintentionally.

Cultural awareness is seen as an important skill in the retail industry and is also rewarded well by organizations when their employees reflect it in their behavior. 

  • Ability to work under pressure: The retail industry is fast-paced and highly competitive. The competition among different stores translates into a pressurizing and target-oriented work culture for the employees of a particular retail store.

This would mean aggressive sales targets for individuals, inherent expectations of taking initiatives beyond their defined job roles, and the ability to work together as a team for the growth of the company.

  • Receptive to Technology usage: The retail industry has changed drastically over the past decade due to the massive infiltration of technology. Many tasks that were previously done by manual labor are now done by machines. 

However, new and slightly challenging tasks have now become part of a sales associate’s job role. If you are working in this capacity, you may no longer be required to manually check the inventory of different products, but you are expected to equip yourself with the knowledge that helps you use Retail POS Software.

If you are not receptive to the use of technology on a daily basis as part of your role as a sales associate, you will fall behind and may lose out to other more skilled individuals.

The job role of a sales associate seems simple on paper, but it is a challenging role. In order to succeed and progress in this job role, you must ensure that you have the necessary personal and professional skills.

In case you lack in certain areas, you can always research or take training to better equip yourself for the role of a sales associate.

Author Bio

Erica Silva

Erica Silva is a blogger who loves to discover and explore the world around her. She writes on everything from marketing to technology.

 She enjoys sharing her discoveries and experiences with readers and believes her blogs can make the world a better place.

Find her on Twitter: @ericadsilva1