Duties: Promotes and sells photographic products and equipment to retail stores and professional and commercial photography labs; covers certain geographical territories; researches and creates lists of prospective clients; meets with and visits small-business owners and large retail outlets to discuss sales prospects; conducts product demos and dealer training sessions; attends and works at trade shows; prepares budgets and sales reports
Alternate Title(s): Manufacturer's Representative, Photographic Equipment Salesperson
Salary Range: $30,000 to $80,000+
Employment Prospects: Good
Advancement Prospects: Good
Best Geographical Location(s): Cities and regions with high populations and busy photographic industries
Education or Training—Two- to four-year degree, with coursework or training in photography beneficial; B.A. in marketing may be required by some manufacturers
Experience—Three of more years of experience in sales; depending upon product, several years of experience as a photographer
Special Skills and Personality Traits—Knowledgeable about photographic products and manufacturers; confident and outgoing; self-motivated; responsible and reliable; deadline-oriented, goal-driven, and comfortable working under stress; able to travel; flexible and adaptable; enthusiastic, upbeat personality; honest; ethical; excellent written and verbal communication skills; ability to work independently and with a team
|Vice President of Sales|
|Regional or National Sales Manager|
|Photographic Sales Representative|
Photographic Sales Representatives work for manufacturers and sell photographic products to small photography stores, retail chains, photography labs, and directly to photographers. They may work for companies that produce camera and film, photographic lighting systems, or tripods and photographic gear. They may even sell custom presentation products and picture frames to photographers. Photographic Sales Representatives are normally assigned geographical locations, or “territories,” which they travel throughout to develop and maintain relationships with customers. Depending upon their territory, they may travel 25 to 50 percent of the time.
Photographic Sales Representatives are responsible for expanding business by developing new customers and maintaining relationships with current clientele. They are given target sales goals and commission incentives. They gather information about prospective customers by attending trade shows, reviewing past lists of leads, searching equipment rental records, business directories, Web sites, advertisements, direct mail inquiries, and a variety of other sources. They create lists of these prospective clients and initiate contact by cold calls, e-mail, and, eventually, personal visits. In addition to actually conducting sales, Photographic Sales Representatives may be responsible for reviewing and improving the sales team's process of prospecting, selling, and closing deals. This may entail testing and revamping sales scripts, if used, as well as conducting training sessions to orient teams to new processes and work through any kinks.
Photographic Sales Representatives provide technical, marketing, and product training support internally as well as externally. When they visit photography stores, they also speak with the sales associates about the products and demonstrate to them how they work and the advantages over other products. They get salespeople excited so that the salespeople can, in turn, share their knowledge and enthusiasm with customers. Photographic Sales Representatives may offer salespeople special deals on products or giveaways. They conduct in-store demonstrations for storeowners, sales associates, and customers. They make in-person visits to photographers' studios to demonstrate products and to allow photographers to test equipment and provide feedback.
Photographic Sales Representatives are usually full-time employees who earn annual salaries plus commissions. Earnings can range from $30,000 to $80,000 or more, depending upon years of experience, the manufacturer, and quantity of products sold. Staff sales representatives also receive such benefits as a 401(k); medical, dental, and life insurance; vacation and sick leave; use of company cars; and frequent flier mileage. They also receive reimbursement for transportation, hotels, meals, and wining and dining customers. Some companies provide Photographic Sales Representatives with cash bonuses, all-expense paid vacations, or other incentives for outstanding sales achievements.
Demand for Photographic Sales Representatives should grow about as fast as the average for all occupations, or by about 10 to 20 percent, through 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. With the constant development and improvement of photographic equipment and supplies, customers will continue to need Photographic Sales Representatives to show them how to use the products. Sales representatives will find the most employment opportunities in small wholesale and manufacturing firms. More of these companies are depending upon sales representatives to help them control costs and expand client bases by marketing their products directly. Photographic Sales Representatives who have excellent knowledge of the products, the industry, technical expertise, and a proven track record in sales will be in high demand.
Photographic Sales Representatives who meet their sales goals, develop effective sales processes that achieve results, and who successfully manage accounts and meet customers' needs have good opportunities to advance. With several years of experience, they can move up to become regional directors or national directors. With five or more years of experience, they can advance to become vice presidents of sales departments.
Education and Training
Most manufacturers hire Photographic Sales Representatives who have four-year degrees. Educational backgrounds can vary in this field; a bachelor's degree in marketing, with photography experience, often suffices. Many Photographic Sales Representatives hone their sales skills by taking continuing education workshops in sales and marketing through business schools or professional associations. They keep up with industry trends and issues by reading trade publications and joining professional associations for membership newsletters and magazines.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Many companies require their Photographic Sales Representatives to have several years of prior experience in sales. Sales representatives must have strong customer service skills and be adept at developing rapport with people quickly. For more senior-level positions, manufacturers want to see demonstrated records of past sales successes. Sales representatives must be able to maintain relationships either in person, by telephone, or through e-mail and therefore need to have strong written and verbal communication skills.
There may be a great deal of travel involved in this type of work, so having a flexible attitude, enthusiasm, and energy can ease the challenges. Photographic Sales Representatives must be highly organized and able to prioritize workloads to achieve sales goals. They must be able to meet and exceed these goals and work well under a great deal of pressure. Those who thrive under the stress of deadlines do extremely well in this field. In addition to being versed in the products and the company they represent, they must also be computer savvy and very familiar with Microsoft Word, Excel, e-mail, the Internet, and order-and-billing software.
Unions and Associations
There are no associations specifically dedicated to Photographic Sales Representatives. Sales representatives can belong to the Manufacturers' Agents National Association for general sales-representative benefits, such as the monthly Sales Agency magazine; an online directory of members and manufacturers; lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., in defense of professional standards and ethics; contract guidelines; career counseling; educational seminars; and more. Photographic Sales Representatives may also join Professional Photographers of America, Advertising Photographers of America, American Society of Media Photographers, and others, for networking and educational opportunities.
Tips for Entry
1. Learn standard business practices, negotiating tactics, contract language, and more by subscribing to such newsletters as Guide to Agreements, Sales Rep's Advisor, and Sales Rep's Strategies, published by the Alexander Communications Group.
2. Find job listings through such employment placement Web sites as RepLocate (http://www.replocate.com), Sales Vault, JustClosers (http://www.justclosers.com), Work (http://www.work.com), Monster (http://www.monster.com), Yahoo! Hotjobs (http://hotjobs.yahoo.com), CareerBuilder (http://www.careerbuilder.com), and many others.
3. Create a list of photographic equipment and product manufacturers that interest you. Visit their Web sites and check their employment listings section. Contact the human resources departments to see if there are sales opportunities in territories you are familiar with or that are feasible for you to cover.
4. Ask the sales associates in photography stores and retail chains near you who the store's sales representatives are and the manufacturers with whom they work. Explain that you are interested in this type of work and ask if you can have the sales representatives' contact information. E-mail or call them to learn more about how they got into the field and if there are any current openings.