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Retail Salesperson

What does a Retail Salesperson do?

A retail salesperson sells clothes, cars, electronics or other products directly to consumers. They assist customers in finding what they are looking for and try to interest them in buying the merchandise. They describe a product’s features, demonstrate its use, or show various models and colours. For some sales jobs, particularly those involving expensive and complex items, retail salespeople need special knowledge or skills.

A retail salesperson’s work may include:

  • greeting customers and ascertaining what each customer wants or needs
  • answering questions regarding the store and its merchandise
  • computing sales prices, total purchases, and receive and process cash or credit payment
  • helping customers try on or fit merchandise
  • bagging or packaging purchases
  • stocking shelves, taking inventory and preparing displays
  • maintaining knowledge of current sales and promotions, policies regarding payment and exchanges, and security practices
  • selling or arranging for delivery, insurance, financing or service contracts
  • recognising security risks and thefts, and knowing how to handle or prevent such situations.

What qualifications do I need?

There are usually no formal education requirements to become a salesperson, although a high school certificate is preferred. Employers look for people who enjoy working with others, and who have the tact and patience to deal with difficult customers. Depending on the type of product they are selling, employees may be given additional specialised training by manufacturers’ representatives. Large retail businesses usually prefer to hire college graduates as management trainees, making a college education increasingly important. However, motivated and capable employees without college degrees still may advance to administrative or supervisory positions in large establishments.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Mathematics
• Business Science
• Accounting
• Economics


Where can I study?

False Bay TVET College
National Certificate: Business Management N4 - N6

Leading Edge Training
Marketing and Sales Training Course

University of Cape Town
Sales Management


Where can I get more info?

Direct Selling Association of South Africa – www.dsasa.co.za


Interview with a Retail Salesperson

Nono Mcaphukisi | SALESPERSON | Speedy Tyre & Fitment

Nono Mcaphukisi | SALESPERSON | Speedy Tyre & Fitment


Why did you choose sales?
I was looking for work, so mailed my CV to a number of businesses. Speedy responded, I began working there, and never looked back.

What training did you do?
My specific work experience was gained on the job. My colleagues guided me as I went along.

Is there a personality type best suited to sales?
Yes, I believe not everyone can be a salesperson. If you have a shy personality, sales is not for you. This job requires one to be talkative, bubbly, enthusiastic and be a people person.

Experience vs training?
Experience provides layers of knowledge that can be applied to the various situations one encounters in the line of duty.

Describe a typical day
Greeting customers and understanding their particular requirements; evaluating the work to be performed; managing an ongoing interaction with the client until they leave feeling satisfied.

What do you enjoy most?
The environment I work in, the pace, and the people I meet.

What’s been the highlight?
Helping people; knowing I am assisting with people’s road safety.

Any advice to share?
Be confident and motivated. Have patience and a willingness to learn.

Describe your job in three words
Exciting • Fulfilling • Rewarding