What Does a Pet Food Sales Representative Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image shows a man giving a presentation of pet food in a large pet store. Text reads:

Image by Hugo Lin © The Balance 2019

Pet product sales representatives, also known as manufacturers’ representatives, are responsible for marketing products such as food, treats, supplements, toys, bedding, cages, accessories, and other animal-related goods. All sales representatives work under the supervision of a sales manager as they seek to find retail locations willing to stock their product.

There are two types of sales rep positions: inside sales and field sales. Inside sales positions do not involve much, if any, travel, as sales calls to potential customers are made over the phone. Field sales positions require frequent travel throughout a designated territory, as representatives visit retail locations in person to sell products or provide training related to their product lines.

Pet Food Sales Representative Duties & Responsibilities

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

  • Identify new customers by searching online business listings, following leads from existing clients, and attending trade shows and conferences
  • Contact new and existing customers to explain the products and how they benefit pets
  • Carefully monitor contacts, promotional activities, and sales volume
  • Help customers select pet food and accessories to meet their pet's needs, product specifications, and regulations
  • Emphasize product features and explain the capabilities and limitations of the products
  • Answer customers’ questions about product prices and availability
  • Negotiate prices and terms of sales and service agreements
  • Prepare sales contracts and submit orders for processing
  • Collaborate with colleagues to exchange information, such as selling strategies and marketing information
  • Follow up with customers to make sure that they are satisfied with their purchases
  • Give demonstrations that highlight the beneficial qualities of the product

Pet product sales representatives may also specialize in selling their designated products to a particular type of vendor, such as veterinary clinics, pet store chains, or major trade shows. Others may specialize in products for a specific species such as dogs, cats, or horses.

Successful sales representatives also have the potential to move up into a regional sales manager position, where they are responsible for supervising the sales team and providing training and support to sales representatives.

Pet Food Sales Representative Salary

Compensation in this profession may be based on commission, salary, or a combination of the two. Generally, product representatives benefit from some type of bonus system to reward outstanding performance when they achieve certain sales milestones.

Those individuals working in field sales often receive additional compensation and benefits such as paid travel expenses, use of a company car, and an expense account for entertaining clients.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics provides salary information for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives:

  • Median Annual Salary: $61,660 ($29.64/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,770 ($59.02/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $29,140 ($14.01/hour)

Education, Training, & Certification

To qualify as a pet product sales representative, you should have the following:

  • Academia: Most pet product sales representatives have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or in an animal science-related field. A pet product sales rep’s experience should include a solid knowledge of the animal industry, public speaking, and marketing techniques. Most new recruits will go through a company training program before beginning their sales career.
  • Certification: There are several well-known certification programs for those working in the sales industry. One highly regarded certification program is provided by the Manufacturers Representatives Education Research Foundation (MRERF). The MRERF offers certification as a Certified Professional Manufacturer’s Representative (CPMR) or as a Certified Sales Professional (CSP).
  • Membership: The American Pet Products Association (APPA) is the most prominent membership group for pet product sales representatives. This trade association conducts market research, provides educational seminars, and puts on the Global Pet Expo each year. Their National Pet Owners Survey is highly regarded in the industry and provides detailed information on pet owner use of products and services. Another membership group is the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association, which offers market research studies, continuing education opportunities, and local networking events for manufacturers’ agents (including those in the pet industry). While not specifically focused on pet industry professionals, this group offers a great deal of relevant sales support.

Pet Food Sales Representative Skills & Competencies

There are certain qualities that you should have to be successful in sales:

  • Verbal and written communication: The ability to sell pet products verbally, as well as in written emails, letters, and presentations to customers
  • Interpersonal skills: The ability to cultivate and maintain relationships with customers to develop a loyal customer base
  • Computer skills: The ability to use software to analyze sales data, prepare reports, and handle various administrative tasks
  • Physical stamina: The ability to lift heavy boxes, as well as travel and remain standing for lengthy periods of time
  • Self-confidence: The ability to cold-call new customers and make presentations with confidence and persuasiveness
  • Self-control: The ability to handle stress and calmly meet sales goals to ensure job security and a stable income

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that jobs for manufacturing sales representatives are projected to grow 5% through 2026. Sales job opportunities are expected to only grow as fast as the average for all careers, so competition should remain keen for these positions. Competition is expected to be particularly steady in the pet product sales industry, as these jobs have a high-profit potential.

The pet product marketplace is a $50-billion-per-year-industry, so earning potential should remain solid for those able to find positions in this fast-paced sales environment.

Work Environment

Inside sales positions mainly work in an office setting, working with new and existing customers on the phone and via Web technology, including chats, email, and video conferencing.

Field sales representatives travel often throughout a designated territory to sell products to customers or provide training related to their products. Their territory may cover a small region or several states, requiring long periods away from home. When time allows, office work may be done on a laptop from a plane or a hotel room desk.

Work Schedule

Most manufacturing sales representatives work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Get the Job

APPLY

Look at resources such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and SimplyHired for the latest job postings. Also contact pet owners, pet shops, and veterinary clinics to learn about the most popular and recommended pet foods and accessories. Then, contact the producers of these products to inquire about sales opportunities.

FIND A VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY

Memberships to organizations such as the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), and the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association may offer networking and training opportunities for aspiring sales representatives.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People Interested in selling pet food and supplies should also consider the following careers:

Pet food sales representatives can also use their skills and experience to transition into veterinary pharmaceutical sales, known to be an extremely lucrative field. Veterinary pharmaceutical sales reps market animal drugs and supplements directly to veterinarians and animal hospitals, and top producers can earn a salary of over $100,000 per year.