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Origin of sales rep

First recorded in 1965–70
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does sales rep mean?

A sales rep is a person whose job is to sell products or services for a company, often in a particular area.

Rep is short for representative. The term sales representative is also used. A sales rep always works for (represents) a company—whereas a salesperson may be selling their own products. However, the two terms are often used synonymously.

The terms salesman and saleswoman are still commonly used, but salesperson and sales rep are often used in their place.

A sales rep is often said to “work in sales”—in which sales refers to the type of occupation or the division or department within a company.

A sales rep can sell directly to customers or to other businesses or organizations. Sometimes, sales reps sell things in person, such as at a retail store or dealership. They also commonly sell things over the phone or by communicating with people online. In the past, it was common for some sales reps to travel door-to-door to make sales to people at home.

Sales rep is sometimes used as another term for traveling salesperson—a salesperson who has to travel as part of their job.

The word salesperson is sometimes used in a somewhat figurative way to refer to someone who’s skilled at persuading people, especially in a business or professional setting, as if they are selling them a product. However, the term sales rep is not used in this way.

Example: The sales rep told me that this was the best deal he could give me.

Where does sales rep come from?

The first records of the word sales rep come from around the 1960s. The term sales representative is recorded slightly earlier, in the 1940s. The word representative is often used as a general term for someone who represents a company—the person you talk to on a customer service line is often called a representative. Representative and the short form rep are used in other specific job titles, such as marketing rep, but they are most commonly associated with sales.

The job of a sales rep is to sell, and to sell they have to convince the customer to buy. For this reason, sales reps have a reputation for sometimes being aggressive or putting pressure on the customer, especially in retail settings, like furniture or electronics stores. Also contributing to this reputation is the fact that some sales reps are at least partly paid on commission—a percentage of sales that goes into their pay. Of course, this reputation isn’t always warranted—a lot of sales reps genuinely want to help you find the right product. The term sales rep doesn’t have quite as strong of an association with aggressive sales tactics as the terms salesperson or salesman.

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What are some other forms related to sales rep

What are some synonyms for sales rep?

What are some words that share a root or word element with sales rep

What are some words that often get used in discussing sales rep?

How is sales rep used in real life?

Sales rep is a neutral term, but sales reps may be viewed positively or negatively, based on a person’s experience with them.

 

 

Try using sales rep!

True or False? 

Sales rep only refers to a person who works as a salesperson for a company.