What Is It Like to Be an Advertising Sales Representative?

Career Information

Double Advertising Billboard Space in Manhattan New York
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An advertising sales representative sells space in print publications, on websites, and on outdoor media to companies that want to advertise their products. He or she may also sell airtime during radio or television broadcasts. The advertising sales representative must convince advertisers that this is the best way to reach consumers.

Also known as an advertising sales agent or ad sales rep, he or she builds a customer base by setting up meetings with potential clients, assessing their needs and presenting proposals to them.

A proposal gives details about the advertising plan and provides its costs and benefits. The advertising sales representative is the client's primary point of contact, answering questions, resolving any problems that arise and proposing new advertising plans. He or she also analyzes the clients' sales data and prepares reports.

Quick Facts

  • In 2015, advertising sales reps earned a median annual salary of $48,490. Earnings are typically comprised of a base salary plus a commission that is based on sales.
  • This field employed almost 168,000 people in 2014.
  • Most jobs are at least full-time. Many advertising sales reps work overtime.
  • The job outlook for this field is poor. Employment is expected to decline through 2024, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A day in an advertising sales rep's life

We looked at job listings on Indeed.com to find out what employers say advertising sales representatives' duties are.

We learned they:

  • "manage the full sales-cycle including; prospecting, fact-finding, presenting, negotiating and closing key agency and brand accounts"
  • "manage and generate revenue from developmental sales list"
  • "interact with various internal departments to carry out client requirements such as scheduling advertising"
  • "react to inbound customer requests via phone and online"
  • "use phone and email, and make occasional face-to-face sales calls"
  • "develop relationships for long-term growth"
  • "assist customers with basic ad layout and design and develop spec ads"

How to become an advertising sales rep

You don't need a college degree to be an advertising sales rep since you will receive your training on the job. However, many employers prefer job candidates who have earned a bachelor's degree with coursework in advertising, marketing, and business.

What soft skills will you need?

Here are several attributes that make some people particularly well-suited for this occupation as well as other sales careers.

  • Communication Skills: You must be able to communicate with your clients. This requires excellent listening and speaking skills.
  • Persistence: It often takes several meetings with a potential client to convince him or her to buy advertising space or airtime from you.
  • Organizational Skills: To keep track of multiple accounts, you must be well-organized.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Your interactions with clients and potential clients require you to have great persuasion and negotiation skills. You must also be socially perceptive, which means you can easily figure out what someone is thinking without him or her telling you.

    What will employers expect from you?

    In addition to skills and experience, what qualities do employers look for when they hire workers? Here are some requirements from actual job announcements found on Indeed.com:

    • "Strong media math skills and understanding of industry research tools/metrics"
    • "Motivated, passionate and a real team player"
    • "A great welcoming personality that encourages relationship building"
    • "Capable of multitasking and working in a ​fast-paced environment"
    • "Professional and entrepreneurial spirit"
    • "Ability to overcome objections and work under pressure, meeting deadlines and sales goals"

    Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

      Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

       DescriptionMedian Annual Wage (2015)Minimum Required Education/Training
      Sales RepresentativeSells a manufacturer's products 


      No formal requirements; bachelor's degree preferred
      Sales EngineerSells advanced technical and scientific products to companies$97,650Bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field
      Insurance AgentSells insurance policies to individuals, families, and businesses$48,200

      Bachelor's degree in business or economics

      Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 (visited October 26, 2016 ).
      Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online (visited October 26, 2016).