How do Sales Reps and Sales Associates Differ in Skillsets, Responsibilities, and Rewards?

November 16, 2023
Sheetal S Kumar
Sheetal S Kumar
Sheetal S Kumar
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Ever wondered how to ensure a steady stream of product sales? 

The answer lies in hiring a skilled salesperson.

But how much do you know about their job profile?

This article will walk you through the two different sales job profiles of a sales rep vs a sales associate and helps you understand the pros and cons of their job and a few tips for being successful in sales.

So scroll down for more. 

Who is a sales rep?

A sales rep is a professional focused on selling a company’s product or services. They identify potential customers, reach out to them to create relationships, introduce the item they are selling, and persuade their clients to eventually close a deal.

As part of the sales team responsibilities, sales reps also collaborate with colleagues to strategize and execute effective sales campaigns, analyze market trends, and provide valuable feedback to enhance the overall sales process.

It is a job profile that requires deep product knowledge, strong interpersonal and communication skills, up-to-date market analysis, and self-discipline to drive revenue for the organization. 

It is a result-oriented job where their salary is in incentive form based on the deals they close. This requires strategizing sales plans to achieve sales quotas and staying up to date about the changing industry trends to drive the company to growth and success. 

Who is a sales associate?

A sales associate is a customer-facing professional responsible for assisting customers in making purchases. They help customers find products, provide information about features and benefits, and ensure a positive shopping experience. 

They are knowledgeable about the products or services they sell and may also handle tasks like processing transactions, organizing merchandise displays, and maintaining a tidy store environment. 

A sales associate plays a crucial role in representing the company to customers, addressing inquiries, and facilitating the sales process. Strong interpersonal skills, product knowledge, and the ability to adapt to customer needs are essential for success in this customer-centric role.

Pros and cons of being a sales job

Between a sales rep and a sales associate, there are so many similarities and differences. Let us look at the similarities between these two through the pros and cons of a sales job.

Pros and cons of sales job


  1. Earning Potential

Both sales reps and associates have immense earning potential as their pay is heavily ruled by variable pay. The incentives are calculated based on the deal they close, the revenue they generate, and what percentage of the sale is rewarded as a commission. There is immense uncapped potential based on sales performance.

In particular, commission-only sales reps, who rely solely on the commissions earned from successful sales, have a direct correlation between their efforts and income, providing a high level of motivation for achieving sales targets.

  1. Flexible Working

Sales is a result-oriented job. More than the time spent working or the number of activities done, the focus is on the number of deals closed and revenue generated. A sales job provides a work-life balance where the salesperson can close deals irrespective of the work schedule and location. 

  1. Upskilling Opportunities

Sales is a competitive job that requires constant learning, upskilling, and keeping up-to-date with everything around them. This keeps the sales job interesting as the regular learning unlearning and relearning process keeps them on their toes. 

  1. Dynamic Work Culture

Sales offer a dynamic work culture where salesforce are exposed to constant problem-solving scenarios. Dealing with challenging customers, finding ways to resolve their issues, and persuading them to purchase offers opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

  1. Customer Interaction

Sales is a job profile that helps individuals network extensively, make new connections every day, and leverage these relationships to enhance their sales and pave the way for professional growth. 


  1. Variable Pay

Though there is immense opportunity to grow financially, a sales job is very much dependent on one's performance and talent. Only a high-performing sales rep with good communication skills to draw the attention of people and persuade them to sign a deal can ensure a consistent income at the end of every month. Otherwise, it creates a stressful period. 

  1. Result Oriented

Sales is a result-oriented job where all incentives, rewards, and pay are based on the goals they achieve. Even after persuading a client for months, and putting effort and resources into converting them, the chances of them finally signing a deal is low. Hence, all the effort can go to nothing in some situations as well. 

  1. Repetitive Tasks

Sales can be a repetitive task. Finding new ideas, and following them to build relations and drive them through the sales pipeline and to eventually win or lose the deal. Whatever the result, the salesforce has to pull itself to begin from square one again.  

  1. Inconsistent

Sales can be inconsistent with the market fluctuations and industry trends affecting how the sales for the month or quarter are going to be. This can lead to inconsistency in lead generation, prospect conversion, deal closing, and eventually earnings. This can create a stressful situation for many. 

  1. Market Influenced

Sales are very much influenced by external forces, especially the market. Economic growth or downturns can affect the demand for the product or service, the client's purchasing capacity, and the sales reps' revenue generated and success. 

Hence, a sales representative must have the attitude to enjoy the pros and handle the cons with balance. This ensures that they don't get overwhelmed by the wins and depressed by the rejections.

For further reading, check Understanding Salesforce Opportunity Stages: A Beginner's Guide. 

Tips for being successful in sales 

Sales reps vs associates must keep a few points in their mind as they traverse through their every day responsibilities to stand apart from the crowd. Let's look at a few tips to become successful in sales. 

Tips for being successful in sales
  • Product Knowledge

Sales reps vs associates must ensure that they have an in-depth knowledge of the product. This ensures that they can provide a clear picture to their prospects defining and detailing the many gestures and benefits of incorporating it into their operations. 

  • Wide Networks

Building relationships must be one of the top priorities of a salesperson. They must work towards building extensive networks that will help them in career development, lead to future sales, and allow consistent professional growth. In addition, understanding and navigating the intricacies of a well-designed sales commission structure is crucial for salespeople, as it can serve as a powerful motivator, aligning individual goals with overall business objectives and fostering a results-driven environment.

  • Effective Communication Skills

Communication is the key to any successful sales. Getting the attention of the prospects, making a mark in their mind about you, briefing them about the company, product and its features as well as persuading them to eventually sign the deal requires good communication skills. 

  • Regular Upskilling

To be relevant and competitive in the fast-paced world, sales reps must keep sharpening their skills. Looking for opportunities that will help them gain new knowledge and skills, keeping a close watch on the changing market trends, and working their way around it helps salesforce in remaining top-notch in their industry. 

  • Problem-Solving

More than selling, sales is a job that proactively notices a challenge and helps their client resolve it. This calls for problem-solving skills where they can identify clients and companies that might be lacking something in their operations and suggest how your product can help them optimize their operations. 

  • Positive Attitude 

It so happens that, a sales rep is faced with more rejections than success from his prospects. Having the right attitude to think that these lost opportunities are a stepping stone to future sales is required to stay balanced in sales. Even a rejected prospect can become a deal in the future to come. 

  • Self Discipline 

Sales is a lone job where the salesperson needs to monitor the leads generated, track the prospects' conversions, and drive them to close a deal. This requires self-discipline so that the salesforce can close deals timely to ensure consistent pay.  

  • Team Work

Teamwork is a must-have in sales. It so happens that not all sales can be single-handedly closed. It needs the cumulative efforts of people from various disciplines. The marketing team can pave the path for the salesforce while targeting a client. While their peers can contribute their efforts and knowledge to eventually close the deal.

Moreover, implementing effective sales coaching techniques within the team can enhance collaboration, refine selling strategies, and empower individuals to continuously improve their sales skills, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development.

  • Embrace Technology

Business operations are being ruled by technological tools that help ease their everyday routine tasks. Salesforce must also embrace these digital tools that help them keep track of their sales pipeline and prospects and enhance sales operations. 

To advance in a sales career, salesforce must keep note of these minute details that help them stand out from the competitive crowd. 

For further reading, check  The Ultimate Guide to Improving Sales Effectiveness: Tips and Tricks.  

Final Thought

Sales is an exciting job. With the right attitude to victories and rejections, focusing on career growth through upskilling and digital incorporations, and attaining sales objectives for timely rewards ensures salesforce growth. 

However, these internal motivations and discipline help the salesforce grow. What drives the salesforce growth and success is incentives. The motivational tool helps them focus on their goals, strategize their plans to achieve their quotas, and grow their business.  

Kennect builds, runs, and automates your incentive compensation plans to create transparency and achieve operational efficiency. For more information, Book A Demo NOW.


Sheetal S Kumar

Sheetal is a content strategist and writer at Kennect. She has extensive writing experience in content marketing and research, focused on small business enterprises and B2B Saas. She is passionate about creating engaging and insightful blogs while exploring the power of content and social media.


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