sales representative

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Definition of sales representative

a person or organization designated by a company to solicit business on its behalf in a specified territory or foreign country: I suggest you contact our Chicago sales representative.
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Origin of sales representative

First recorded in 1945–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does sales representative mean?

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

The short form sales rep is much more commonly used. Sales representatives always work for (represent) 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, sales representative, and sales rep are often used in their place.

A sales representative 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 representative can sell directly to customers or to other businesses or organizations. Sometimes, sales representatives 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 representatives to travel door-to-door to make sales to people at home.

Sales representative 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 representative is not used in this way.

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

Where does sales representative come from?

The first records of the word sales representative come from around the 1940s. The term sales rep is recorded slightly later, in the 1960s. 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 representative is to sell, and to sell they have to convince the customer to buy. For this reason, sales representatives 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 representatives genuinely want to help you find the right product. The term sales representative 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 representative

What are some synonyms for sales representative?

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

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

How is sales representative used in real life?

Sales representative is a neutral term, but sales representatives may be viewed positively or negatively, based on a person’s experience with them. The short form sales rep is more commonly used.



Try using sales representative!

True or False? 

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

How to use sales representative in a sentence