Book a demo
July 5, 2024

What is a sales associate?

Discover folk - the CRM for people-powered businesses

Building a sales team for the first time? sales roles are more critical than ever. The effectiveness of sales teams can make or break a company, and within these teams, sales associates play a pivotal role. But what exactly does a sales associate do, and how do they differ from other sales roles like Business Development Managers (BDMs)? In this blog post, we’ll unpack everything you need to know about a sales associate.

What is sales?

Sales is the process of identifying, engaging, and converting potential customers into buyers of a product or service. It involves understanding customer needs, presenting solutions, negotiating terms, and closing deals. Sales can be conducted through various channels, including direct interactions, phone calls, emails, online platforms, and more. The ultimate goal is to drive revenue and growth for the business. A retail sales associate job is often focused on the shop floor. Its B2B equivalent is a SDR.

What does a sales associate do?

A sales associate typically work in retail environments, but their roles can also extend to various industries, including technology, finance, and real estate, where direct customer interaction is vital. A sales associate is often the first person to greet a customer. Other primary duties include:

  • Customer engagement: Interacting with customers to understand their needs and preferences, offering advice and information about products or services.
  • Product knowledge: Maintaining an in-depth understanding of the products or services offered, including features, benefits, and pricing.
  • Sales transactions: Handling the sales process from start to finish, including processing payments, managing inventory, and ensuring customer satisfaction.
  • Customer service: Providing post-purchase support, handling inquiries, and resolving any issues to ensure a positive customer experience.
  • Sales goals: Working towards individual and team sales targets, often using metrics to measure performance and drive improvement.

Sales associate position responsibilities

A typical sales associate role might vary slightly depending on the job description. In terms of salary, this may depend on location. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary is $33.9k per year and there aren't a formal educational creditial needed.

Retail sales associate job description might include:

  • Greeting customers and making them feel welcome
  • Offering assistance and responding to questions about products
  • Providing recommendations according to individual customer needs
  • Introducing promotions and new products
  • Handling refunds, exchanges and returns
  • Documenting sales
  • Maintaining the shop floor appearance
  • Wrapping purchased products
  • Stocking shelves with new inventory
  • Staying up to date with sales trends

Training in customer service experience to help a sales representative provide good shopping experience should be considered as part of their onboarding. You'll want to give enough insight so they can answer customer questions that often come up.

What about in B2B?

The B2B equivalent of a sales associate is a sales development representative (SDR). A SDR is often the first person someone talks to when they make an enquiry about your product or service in B2B and is heavily involved in customer relationship management. Unlike typical retail related sales associate responsibilities, a SDR's sales job involves reaching out to prospects that come through via inbound and outbound sales and updating the customer relationship management platform.

A SDR might use folk to keep an eye on their sales cycle by pipeline view
Or by deal flow view.

What is the difference between a sales associate and a SDR?

While sales associates and a sales development representative both operate within the sales ecosystem, their roles and responsibilities differ significantly.

Sales associate positions

  • Focus on: Direct interaction with customers to facilitate immediate sales transactions.
  • Environment: Often works in retail or frontline sales environments.
  • Responsibilities: Customer service, product knowledge, sales processing, achieving sales targets.

Sales development representative positions

  • Focus on: Lead generation and qualifcation by iAssessing the needs and interests of potential leads to determine their suitability for further engagement by the sales team.
  • Environment: Typically operates in B2B (business-to-business) contexts. Can be remote, hybrid or in-office.
  • Responsibilities: Market research, lead generation, relationship building, strategic planning, negotiating contracts, closing high-value deals, CRM management.


Sales associates are an important part of a sales team in retail. Helping to bring your brand's retail experience to life. Sales associate skills vary from customer service by creating a welcoming retail environment, to helping with maintaining the sales floor, and customer satisfaction. In contrast, SDRs focus on lead generation and qualification, typically working remotely or in office environments to build the sales pipeline for the company.

More resources

Building a sales team for the first time? Learn more from the latest in our series below.