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Business and sales

Are you interested in a career in business or sales? In this section you can find out more about what business and sales involves, related occupations and advice on how to gain access to a career in this sector.

What does a career in business and sales entail?

A career in business is much more varied than most people imagine. Not only does it include obvious functions such as management and marketing, but can also lead to careers in international commerce, healthcare, arts, and non-profit organisations. A degree in business can be applied to almost any industry or can be used to start a business. Business careers are available in most sectors, including the banking and financial sectors, retail and sales, consultancy, management, media, marketing and advertising and human resources.

Having a business degree can help you gain access to many opportunities within retail and sales. A number of large companies offer graduate training programs and trainee management programs to help graduates advance quickly within the company. Retail and sales does not consist solely of cold-calling; there are many job opportunities within retail teams and in office-based roles, as well as positions which involve a lot of travelling and therefore require knowledge of global markets. Sales can take place face-to-face, in shops, telesales, mail order, 'sales engines' and online.

Sales is the core of every business and consists of convincing potential clients that the product or service you are selling is so indispensable that they cannot afford not to buy it. Although it is possible to train people in the basics of selling, it is something which usually comes naturally and depends on personality. Anyone who wishes to work in sales will need to confident and have great interpersonal skills, both on the phone and in person. Unlike other careers, sales allows you to be directly rewarded for your efforts through commission and OTE (On Target Earnings).

What qualifications are needed for a career in business and sales?

A specific degree is not usually required for a career in sales and technical knowledge can be learnt whilst working and through asking pertinent questions. Previous sales experience is a plus but if you do not have any, retail experience also demonstrates the ability to interact with customers.

The majority of sales positions will be B2B (Business to Business) rather than B2C (Business to Consumer). Occupations related to business and sales include:

  • Chartered management accountant
  • Corporate investment banker
  • Insurance underwriter
  • Management consultant
  • Operational researcher
  • Risk manager
  • Human resources officer
  • Logistics and distribution manager
  • Marketing executive
  • Retail manager
  • Sales executive
  • Systems analyst

Top graduate employers in business and sales in the UK include: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Accenture, Grant Thornton, National Probation Service, BDO, Lloyds Banking Group, Baker Tilly, Barclays, IBM, Birmingham City Council, Capita, Essex County Council, Mazars, Civil Service, Balfour Beatty and Savills.

Average salary for graduates working in business and sales

The average salary for a graduate working in business in the UK is £27,000. The average UK salary for business occupations is £32,500 per year. Management Consultancy is the highest paid sector with average earnings of £47,500, whereas the average salary for Customer Services is £20,536.

The average salary for a graduate working in sales in the UK is £25,000 per year. The average salary for sales occupations in the UK is £29,000 per year but can range from £21,000 to £42,500 depending on the sector. The public sector and services is the highest paid sector with an average annual salary of £42,500, whereas the Non For Profit sector has an average salary of £18,579 per year. The highest paying locations in the UK for sales graduates is Horsham, West Sussex.

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