Sales and Retail

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What is Sales and Retail?

Sales and retail professionals work in a broad range of areas. These include e-business, media sales, technical sales, telesales and merchandising. In addition they work as shop assistants, account managers, and retail managers.

Salespeople must have expertise in the products or services they sell, as well as be professional and courteous. That makes it a challenging career choice but it can also be a financially rewarding one.

What Courses Are Available?

There are a number of options at third level in Ireland for students interested in a sales and retail career. The courses available include degrees as well as higher certificates. Students may also consider other third-level business courses, which provide a good grounding in the sales and retail area.

The subjects covered on a third-level course in sales and retail include:

  • Retail Management
  • Financial Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Retail Design
  • Consumer Behaviour
  • Merchandising
  • Entrepreneurship

There is also a wide range of sales courses available outside at Colleges of Further Education, and with many other providers within the QQI awards system. These courses teach practical sales techniques and therefore offer another route to a successful sales career. In addition, salespeople selling a particular technical product or service may do specific training to gain specialist knowledge of the product and its market.

Career Options

Sales professionals can work in any number of areas. Some examples include the media, the motor trade, IT, insurance, the ice-cream industry, and pharmaceutical companies. The duties and responsibilities depend on the specific line of work.

One common aspect however, is the need to create and maintain good relations with the public and suppliers. A salesperson working for a manufacturer visits retailers and wholesalers to encourage them to stock a particular product. A media or publishing salesperson persuades businesses and organisations to buy an advert in their publication.

Medical or technical salespeople demonstrate their products as well as offer after-sales services. Financial telesales representatives may have to ‘cold-call’ potential customers.

Account managers oversee large teams of salespeople, as well as negotiate contracts and make important business decisions. Retail professionals also have varied day-to-day tasks that might include dealing with complaints and locating obscure products for customers, maintaining correct stock levels and meeting with the suppliers’ sales representatives.

Retail managers can be responsible for a department, a shop, or a chain of stores situated in a particular region or country. Their tasks include choosing which products to stock, making sure staff meet their sales targets, as well as recruiting staff and organising training.

Further Study

Entry-level jobs in sales tend to be widely available. Options can include representative roles in retail, telesales, as well as technical sales and business-to-business sales. Some third-level courses also offer work placements, which give students an opportunity to gain valuable experience and to make useful contacts. Other options for those with a sales and retail qualification include merchandising, customer service and management positions. The Sales Institute of Ireland awards professional qualifications.


What personal qualities do I need to be successful in this sector?

Sales and retail jobs call for persuasive, confident and vibrant individuals. As many salaries can be performance-related, salespeople should be able to motivate themselves and possess good organisational and administration skills.

What is the work environment like?

Sales representatives work in offices or call centres and spend a lot of time on the telephone, or else on the road. Furthermore, some salespeople attend conferences and meetings that require them to be away from home for short periods of time. Retail staff can work in many different environments, from corner shops to retail park superstores.

Where Can I Study Sales and Retail?

Explore your options here.

Did You Know?

  • 32 percent of customers say that they would stop doing business with a brand they loved after a single bad experience. (PwC)
  • 74 percent of internet users said that a disappointing interaction with staff—whether it’s a poor attitude or lack of knowledge—is a leading reason why they would consider a brand experience as a negative one.
  • 46 percent of shoppers said they would prefer interacting with a human even if a chatbot saved them 10 minutes. is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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