How to Be a Good Retail Sales Associate

Updated on June 18, 2020

Job Description for a Sales Associate

Most sales associate positions have very similar job descriptions no matter what you are selling. It is your job to close the sale with your customers. This means you have to show and describe products, suggest additional products the customer might need, and make sure that the customer knows the good value of whatever they are buying. You will not only be representing your store but the many vendors that have their products available for sale at your store.

It is also your job to make sure that your store is clean and inviting to customers. This may mean straightening out clothes, dressing mannequins, displaying new product, cleaning and anything else that will make customers enjoy being in the store. Although these are important tasks the main things you need to do is learn as much as you can about the products you sell and be able to find the perfect products for each customer.

Skills a Good Sales Associate Should Have

  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Product knowledge
  • People skills: be able to talk to different customers and start conversations
  • Efficiency: be able to help multiple customers at times
  • Suggestive selling: increase the company's profits by adding on to each sale
  • Be able to work under pressure and meet goals
  • Customer recovery: make sure that if something goes wrong you offer to fix it and keep the customer

Conversation Starters to Move the Sale Along

  • Hi, how are you doing today? Is it warming up outside yet?
  • What a cute little girl! How old is she?
  • I see you are looking at ___(an item)__. Are you a _(profession)_.
  • I see you have a Bears cap on. How are they doing this year?

You can start a conversation with customers based on anything you notice about them. Be as detailed as you can when asking them questions about themselves so you can provide them with the best products you have available for them.

How to Be Successful Making Sales

There are two main things that will help you make big sales and provide great customer service:

  • Product knowledge
  • Being able to figure out what the customer needs and describing products to them while explaining the benefits to them

This means that you will have to read about your products, pay very close attention during any training you receive, and listen to customers and coworkers when they tell you about certain products and brands. Remember the positives and negatives so you can fit each customer with the perfect product for them.

To be successful at selling you also have to start conversations with your customers. This will let them know that you are interested in what they do and why they are in your store. It also helps customers warm up to you even if they came in dreading being bombarded by a sales associate. Start the conversation off on something different than selling them something so they don't think that is your only motive.

Don't lie to your customers. If they ask you a question you do not know the answer to do not try to make up a reasonable answer. Either read labels and find the answer out for them, ask a fellow coworker, or turn the sale over to someone with better knowledge about the product. If they ask you something and you give them an incorrect answer you will look stupid later when they find out the real answer. They will not trust you after that and will want to continue on their own or with a different sales associate making you lose the sale.

How to Read Your Customers

Reading your customers when they first walk in the door will help you out a lot when deciding how to approach them and what questions to ask them. If they seem happy and outgoing when you first greet them try to start a conversation with them about their day, what they are looking for, what their needs are, and so on. People like this are the easiest to talk to and sell products to because they are open to talk to you and are usually not the anti-sales associate type.

There are people who are more grumpy when they come into the store and walk in not wanting to talk to you at all. These people are tougher to crack. If they push you away on the first approach, give them their space. When you constantly stalk customers who do not want your help, they will often end up leaving because they feel uncomfortable or that you are just trying to get some money out of them. The best thing to do in this situation is to back off and wait until they find a product they seem interested in. You can then approach them and say "I see you are looking at ____. This is a great product for____. Have you ever used it before?". If they open up to you this is the time to start a conversation and move in on the sale. If they seem annoyed that you are talking to them then leave them alone for the rest of the time they are shopping or you might lose them.

How do You Like to Shop?

When shopping, do you like it when sales associates help you pick out products or would you rather find them on your own?

See results

Money, Money, Money


The Benefits of Being a Good Sales Associate

Although it is nice to enjoy what you dom we are all in it to make some money whether your salary goals are high or just enough to get by and enjoy your free time. The great thing about being a sales associate is that you most often have the opportunity to make commission or bonuses based on your own personal sales or the store's sales. This means that you usually have to keep up with a sales goal.

A lot of companies offer you incentives called "spiffs" for selling a certain amount in one sale or for selling certain items. These can add up quickly and amount to a lot on your paychecks. It not only helps the company out when you sell a lot but also puts more money in your pocket and makes you a large asset to the company.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Brittany B


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      7 years ago from Rangpur


    • adjkp25 profile image


      8 years ago from Idaho

      This should be a must read for anyone in the industry. Far too often sales associates come across as very pushy and it can make the customer feel very uncomfortable.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      8 years ago from Planet Earth

      Terrific advice for anyone in sales or customer service! I've seen some great sales people, and some not-so-great. It is such a joy when you find someone courteous, helpful and knowledgeable. Often, we need information about products to help us make choices. Voted up and up!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)