Important Skills for Sales Associate Jobs

Sales associate skills

Image  © The Balance 

Sales associates have broad and flexible responsibilities that often include acting as cashier, customer service representative, stocker, and stepping into other roles, sometimes multiple roles, in a single day.

Different stores will emphasize different skills, so sales associate jobs vary from company to company.

What all of these positions have in common is a focus on helping customers get what they need in a retail environment. Some sales associates move up the corporate ladder, others stay where they are, and still, others move on to other fields. But if you have these skills, you can find work almost anywhere.

What Kind of Skills Do You Need to be a Sales Associate?

Some of the skills you will need are specific to particular positions, either because each store does things a little differently, or because companies vary in how they define these jobs. For example, you may or may not be expected to work with vendors or stock shelves. Other skills are common across virtually all sales associate positions.

Money-Handling Skills

Most sales associates are involved with finalizing sales and handling money and credit card transactions. You’ll need to know how to use a cash register, and possibly Microsoft Office as well. You’ll need basic accounting skills to make a change and to notice errors. You may need to be bonded.

  • Cashier
  • Cash Handling
  • Cash Register
  • Credit Cards
  • Making Change
  • Microsoft Office
  • Money Handling
  • Monetary Transactions
  • Transactions

Communications and Customer Service Skills

Because sales associates work directly with customers, skills and experience in communications and customer relations are valuable. These include verbal communication for providing customer assistance and dealing with difficult people, but you also need written communication for developing signage, writing emails, and possibly keeping records.

  • Communication
  • Communicate Brand
  • Customer Assistance
  • Customer Relations
  • Customer Service
  • Dealing With Difficult People
  • Greeting Customers
  • Verbal Communication
  • Visual Displays
  • Written Communication

Knowledge of Products and Services

If you have in-depth knowledge of the products and services you are selling, you can help customers make informed choices. That’s good for your customers, and it’s good for your employer as well, since people bring their business to places where the service is reliable. An in-depth knowledge of your store is important, too. From giving simple directions (“where do you keep cookies?”) to being able to explain services and policies, your assistance allows customers to better use your store.

  • Brand Awareness
  • Product Enthusiasm
  • Product Knowledge
  • Sizing
  • Store Services Knowledge

Sales Skills

Selling can range from simply helping customers find what they’re looking for, to actively encouraging customers to buy more, or to buy specific things to achieve sales goals. You’ll need good attention to detail and strong relationship building skills. It is another place where having an in-depth knowledge of what your store sells is crucial. You’ll need to understand basic accounting and stocking to keep track of where you are with respect to your goals and where you need to be.

  • Achieve Sales Goals
  • Attention to Detail
  • Merchandising
  • Persuasive
  • Relationship Building
  • Sales
  • Sales Volume
  • Selling

Personal Mastery Skills

There are also personal qualities, habits, and talents that can be of value to a sales associate.

You might not think of them as skills, but they can be learned, and if you highlight them in the hiring process, you will be more likely to get the job.

You must be dependable, efficient, and able to multitask. You must be punctual, yet able to be flexible in your scheduling. Personal cleanliness is important, as is a professional appearance and demeanor. You must be able to take the initiative, and also be a team player who is able to follow instructions. You must be polite, friendly, and enthusiastic. A positive attitude helps at all times.

  • Cleanliness
  • Dependable
  • Efficient
  • Enthusiasm
  • Flexible
  • Flexible Schedule
  • Follow Instructions
  • Friendly
  • Initiative
  • Interpersonal
  • Multitasking
  • Organization
  • People
  • Personable
  • Persuasive
  • Politeness
  • Positive Attitude
  • Professional
  • Punctual
  • Reliable
  • Team Focus
  • Team Player
  • Teamwork
  • Timeliness

More Position-Based Sales Associate Skills

These skills are often related to specific positions or job titles. Have you performed any of these jobs or functions?

  • Cashier
  • Department Maintenance
  • Display Building
  • Displays
  • Front End Operations
  • Loss Prevention
  • Maintain Store Standards
  • Planogram Changes
  • Point of Sale Systems (POS)
  • Pricing
  • Retail Operations
  • Returns
  • Sales
  • Stock Management
  • Stock Replenishment
  • Stocking
  • Vendor Relations
  • Visual Merchandising

Review a Sample Resume

This is a sample resume written for a sales associate position. You may simply read the sample below or download the template (available for Google Docs and Word Online).

Sales associate resume template
 @ The Balance 2020

Resume Example Focused on Sales Skills (Text Version)

Sally Sales
123 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90402
(123) 456-7890


Representing luxury name brands with enthusiasm and success.

Demonstrated passion for promoting high-end beauty and perfume brands within retail settings. Easily initiate consultative dialogues to identify customer preferences and offer winning product solutions. Maintain a flawless personal appearance and professional demeanor.

Key skills include: Customer Relations • Innovative Visual Merchandising • Cash Handling / Credit Processing • Superb Product Knowledge • Planogram Optimization • Department Maintenance / Stocking


SEPHORA, Santa Monica, CA
Sales Associate (June 2018 – Present)
Greet and provide attentive service and product recommendations to customers of upscale retail store. Enthusiastically discuss and demonstrate beauty products; design and set up attractive visual merchandising displays. Handle credit processing and cash transactions with 100% accuracy. Key achievements:

  • Consistently exceeded all established sales targets by more than 20% for each year of tenure.
  • Partnered with store management to design and implement planogram changes that improved traffic and average customer time spent in store by 35%.
  • Promoted within one month of hiring to key holder status based upon proven responsibility, maturity, and a perfect work attendance record.

MACY’S, Santa Monica, CA
Sales Associate (May 2015 – June 2018)
Skillfully handled product sales and returns at perfume counter of high-volume department store. Assisted customers with product selections and described current sales promotions; meticulously ensured the cleanliness and order of merchandising displays. Key achievements:

  • Proactively increased knowledge of newly launched products to inform creation of unique displays and talking points.
  • Helped to implement loss prevention strategies that reduced shoplifting by 60%.
  • Earned multiple “Employee of the Month” awards.


Associate of Science – Sales & Promotion

Technical Proficiencies: Microsoft Office Suite • POS systems

Review More Samples

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Match Your Skills to the Job: Skill requirements will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so be sure to read the job description carefully and review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Include Skills in Your Job Application Materials: The skills listed here are those that are frequently programmed into the applicant tracking systems that many employers now use to review applications. Include them in your resume and cover letter.

Use Skills to Highlight Your Experience: Use these skills as keywords to highlight what you can do. Prepare specific examples of how you embody these skills so that you can discuss them in job interviews.