What Does an Animal Sales Representative Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

dog with prescriptions
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Animal sales representatives sell animals, such as livestock and domestic pets, as well as animal products such as dairy, feed, or pharmaceuticals. They may work in pet stores or offices, or out in the field visiting farms, stores, breeders, or zoos.

Animal Sales Representative Duties & Responsibilities

This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:

  • Identify prospective customers by researching the internet, following leads from other clients, and attending trade shows and conferences to generate new business and get additional leads
  • Perform database research to determine customer needs and develop a sales strategy that includes finding weaknesses in competitor products
  • Cold-call potential customers that you believe are likely to respond favorably and help them select products to meet their needs, product specifications, and regulations
  • Stay connected to customers to determine their needs and answer any questions or comments
  • Collaborate with colleagues to exchange information to
  • Prepare sales contracts and submit orders for processing
  • Deal effectively with in-store customers to determine their needs and guide them to the requested items
  • Keep shelves well-stocked with animal supplies

Animal sales representatives who work in the field sell animal products to those involved in animal care, such as veterinarians, farms, zoos, and pet stores. They set up appointments to visit owners to sell pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and equipment to support animal habitats and to keep animals healthy.

Those representatives who work in pet stores provide customer service to visitors by determining their needs and guiding them to a solution, whether it be a product or the right pet. They may also be asked to care for the animals in stock, as well as ensure shelves contain the right supplies to support animal health. An important aspect of selling a pet is to ensure the customer has all of the requisite knowledge needed to care for their pet.

Animal Sales Representative Salary

An animal sales representative's salary may vary based on education, experience and skill level, as well as the type of employer such as a pet store versus a pharmaceutical company. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salary information for those in sales under the general classification "Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Reps" as follows:

  • Median Annual Salary: $58,510 ($28.13/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,770 ($59.02/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $29.140 ($14.01/hour)

If you are considering a job in pharmaceutical sales, you may want to review the salary information provided by Payscale:

  • Median Annual Salary: $78,224 ($37.61/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $113,000 ($54.33/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $48,000 ($23.08/hour)

Source: Payscale, 2019

Most employers use a combination of salary and commissions or salary plus bonuses to compensate their sales representatives. Commissions usually are based on a percentage of sales. Bonuses may depend on the performance of the individual, sales group, or company.

Education, Training, & Certification

This position requires the following education, experience, and licensing:

  • Academia: Most animal sales representatives have at least a four-year bachelor of science degree in marketing, animal science, biology, zoology, veterinary technology, or business. Those with higher level graduate degrees or extensive practical experience will have the most opportunities in the field.
  • Training: Most new recruits must complete a training course with an employer before having the chance to interact with clients. Internship programs are available in veterinary pharmaceutical sales, animal nutrition, pet stores, and more. Many of these internships are offered in 8- to 12-week summer sessions or run for semester-long sessions. College credit may also be available for students who complete their sessions after arranging them in advance with the institution. If it is not possible to find an opportunity with a sales company, you might benefit from working with animals directly at zoos, aquariums, humane societies, stables, or veterinary clinics. Sales experience gained through other non-animal related sales agencies will also be valued, as sales skills are readily transferable from one industry to another.

Defining a specific area of interest early on allows a student to tailor their college courses and internships to build a strong resume that will draw interest from employers.

Sales Representative Skills & Competencies

Like any sales representative, it is important that you have a certain skill set to perform this job successfully:

  • Communication and Verbal Skills: Reps need to communicate sales information clearly to customers before, during, and after the sale.
  • Organizational Skills: Reps need excellent organizational skills to record and maintain information such as records of their products, customers, and leads.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Reps need strong interpersonal skills to cultivate and maintain relationships with customers.
  • Solid Knowledge of the Industry: Reps need to be able to answer customer questions and advise customers on product use related to animal health and care.
  • Love of Animals: Reps that have an interest in animals and their welfare will do well in this position.
  • Physical Stamina: Reps may have to travel long distances to see clients or stand on their feet for long periods of time. They may also have to lift heavy boxes of supplies.
  • Self-Confidence: Reps should have the confidence to persuade prospective clients to try the product they represent. Also, calling a potential customer who is not expecting to be contacted requires confidence and composure.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives, of which animal sales reps are a component, is 5% for 2016 to 2026.

According to the American Pets Product Association (APPA), Americans spent $72.6 billion on their pets in 2018 and are estimated to spend $75.38 in 2019.

Also, a 2017–2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the North American Pet Health Insurance Association found that 68% of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet. This represents a 17.2% increase between 2014 and 2015.

Given the increase and volume of pet ownership in the United States, the job outlook for animal sales representatives is positive.

Work Environment

Animal sales representatives may work in an office or store, or out in the field meeting with customers. Those who work out in the field may spend considerable time away from home traveling to meet with customers. Prospective clients may be located at zoos, animal shelters farms, pet shops, veterinarian clinics, and aquariums.

Reps may also be required to spend some time in an office selling products on the phone, taking orders, and resolving problems or complaints. They may also use Web technology, such as email and video conferencing, to contact clients.

Work Schedule

Most animal sales representatives work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week, depending on the sales quotas or goals they are expected to meet.

How to Get the Job

APPLY

Search job sites such as AnimalHealthJobs.com, Indeed.com, SimplyHired.com, and recruiter sites. Search through company websites to see if an employer has a job posted that might be of interest. Employers such as Bayer, Alltech, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Nestle Purina, and Zoetis often post vacancies on their websites.

Even if there are no jobs listed, send a resume and cover letter to organizations that you are interested in working for. You never know when an unadvertised position might suddenly pop up. Also inquire about any possible internship opportunities, which is another strategy for obtaining a future position.

Animal sales jobs also may be advertised in trade publications, both in print and online. Colleges and universities often get advance notice of jobs that might be of interest to their students, so be sure to subscribe to any job-related email lists your educational institution may offer.

NETWORK

Join organizations such as the American Pet Products Association (APPA), Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), American Association of Industry Veterinarians (AAIV). Membership to industry organizations provides networking opportunities that could lead to a job and help you stay current on the industry.

Your college or university may also be able to help with job placement, so ask your adviser and professors about any connections they might be able to help you make with industry professionals.

Comparing Similar Jobs

A candidate who is interested in the field of animal sales should begin by determining what specific type of sales they are interested in pursuing professionally. Popular animal-related sales career paths include:

Source: Payscale, 2019