Interview with Biff Wilburn – Smith Sunglasses Sales Rep

Question: What is a normal day of work like for you?

Well first it depends on if I am in my office or on the road traveling. No day seems normal and no day is alike. Everyday there is a new challenge and a new project to undertake. If I had to break down a day, there would have to be three different day categories.
1. Office work. This has to do with answering emails, phone calls, writing orders, organizing new samples, sending out promotional product, organizing Grassroots teams (locally sponsored athletes), taking orders via phone, sending out catalogs and basically touching base with all of my dealers to set up appointments for the next time I am traveling through their area.
2. Visiting retail shops. This has to do with going into a shop, recording their current inventory, handing out new catalogs/price sheets, educating employees on my product, showing off new product, writing orders to fill in sold product from the last time I was there and making sure that the visual presentation (merchandising) is up to par.
3. Retail Trade Shows and Sales Meetings. I go to about 7 trade shows a year that are located in Northwest, Southwest and Rockies regions of the US. These shows give us a chance to meet with retail owners/buyers from all over the US, we show them brand new product and give out new catalogs/price sheets for the new product. Sales Meetings happen about 5 times a year across the US since I work for 4 different companies. These meetings have to do with talking about how sales have gone for the year so far, new product, technology and what are goals are for the future.
Question: How does someone break into the sports equipment and sports gear field?
Unfortunately, it is quite difficult, because it really is a, “Who you know” type industry. There aren’t that many places to even find out if there are any jobs available. It seems to be more of a word of mouth from sales rep to sales rep and then a referral to call and get more info.
Question: Any specific tips for finding work as a beginner or with moderate experience?
Get to know people that are already in the sports industry. Let them know that if any jobs come available to let you know ASAP and to hopefully put in a good word for you with the hiring company. If you make it clear you are looking for a job in the industry and are willing to move anywhere, it should only be a matter of time before you get at least your first interview.
Question: Are there internships available? Where? How do you get them?
Not really, unless there is a special case. You can always look on-line at different company’s web sites to see if they have job opportunities. These are normally in-house jobs which is different than my outside sales representative position though.
Question: What education/certifications/background is needed and/or most useful?
Sales experience is always a plus, but the bottom line is if you are self motivated, friendly and are focused, you can succeed in this industry. You need to love the industry and the events that are incorporated in it. If you’re just doing it for a job, not for the love of the sports this industry supports and all the amazing people you will meet, you will get burned out quickly.
Question: Are there certain qualifications that help separate the best from the rest?
Sales experiences, customer service, ability to self motivate and competitive natures are important because everyone is out there trying to fight for a piece of the pie.
Question: What are some down sides to the job?  Question: What are the best parts about the job?
I am asked this question all of the time. The down sides and best part to me are the same. TRAVEL. You can always tell if I want or have to travel somewhere because I either say, “I GET to go to…” or “I HAVE to go to…’ I love getting behind the wheel of my van or onto an airplane most days, but there are also those days I want to go home at night to see my wife, sleep in my own bed, go to a friends party, work on my house, but I can’t because I am out of town sleeping in a hotel room getting my job done. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job/ people I work with and all of the amazing people I get to meet. I feel VERY lucky to have this job and to work for the awesome companies I work for, but we all have our good/bad days.
Question: Approximately how much does this type of sports job pay at each level?
Pay will definitely fluctuate depending on if you are paid salary or commission. How many companies you work for? I really don’t have a pay breakdown since there are so many variables to take into account.
Question: Do most jobs include benefits such as medical and dental, etc.?
This is really a case by case deal, with some companies offering full benefits and others offering minimal benefits beyond salary and commission.
Question: How much vacation do these jobs usually have?
It depends on if you work for yourself or someone else. My boss lets me have whatever time I need because he knows that I won’t abuse it and because I know that every day I am not working someone else is (once again it’s that natural competition thing) and just because I go on vacation doesn’t mean that all of my retail shops go on vacation with me.

Major Sports Brands (Marketing and Sales Professionals)