Pet Food Sales Rep—Career Profile
Pet food sales representatives are responsible for promoting and selling their product line to retail locations such as pet stores. This product line can include other items like pet toys and other pet accessories.
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; 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.
Communication and technology skills are very important to pet product sales representatives, both in inside sales and field sales positions. Reps must carefully monitor their contacts, promotional activities, and sales volume.
An important duty for field sales reps is providing demonstrations that highlight the beneficial qualities of the product. These demonstrations can take place at trade shows, conferences, conventions, animal related events, or at the offices of potential clients.
Pet product sales representatives can specialize in selling their designated products to a particular type of vendor, such as veterinary clinics, pet store chains, or major trade shows. Others specialize in products for a specific species such as dogs, cats, or horses.
Successful sales representatives have the potential to move up into a regional sales manager position.
Sales managers are responsible for supervising the sales team and providing training and support to the reps.
Pet product 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.
Education and Training
Most pet product sales representatives have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or 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.
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 usage 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.
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).
Compensation for pet product sales representatives can be based on commission, salary, or a combination of the two.
Generally, product reps also benefit from some type of bonus system to reward outstanding performance when they achieve a certain sales milestones.
Pet product sales representatives generally earn more than $50,000 per year. Indeed.com reports the salary of pet product sales representatives averages about $79,000 per year.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the middle 50 percent of sales representatives earned between $48,540 and $99,570 per year during a 2008 salary study. The lowest ten percent earned less than $34,980 and the highest ten percent earned more than $133,040 per year. The median wage for sales representatives was $70,200.
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.
Sales representative 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.