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Alternate Career Titles:

Sales Representative, Manufacturers Representative

Career Overview: Sells musical equipment to retail and wholesale dealers.

Career Salary Range: $19,000 to $75,000+

Instrument Sales Representative

Become an Instrument Sales Representative

Career Description

It is the job of the Instrument Sales Representative to sell musical instruments to shops and schools. They are usually given a specific territory called a region or district that consists of cities, counties, states or even large sections of the country. As a Sales Rep, he or she must be extremely knowledgeable about the instruments and the manufacturers, just as any Sales Rep would need to be well-versed with their product. The Sales Rep must also know about competitor’s products as well. Knowing about the strengths and weaknesses of their own instruments and competitors’ instruments helps prepare each Sales Rep to field questions on any subject.

The Sales Rep makes sales calls either in person or over the phone, but they must stay connected to their accounts. He or she is responsible for talking to dealers in order to discover any problems with instruments that were sold under warranty. Also, during these conversations, the Sales Rep might review new instruments, products, trends, and more. Basically, by the time the Sales Rep leaves the account, he or she should have developed a large sales order.

While taking care of existing accounts is extremely important, the Rep must also work to find new accounts. This is done by setting up appointments and sending letters and product brochures to generate interest. It is important to keep in mind that new accounts may not place an order the first time they meet with the Rep. But once a relationship has been established, sales may come easier. Because of the size of some accounts like a school or school district, a sale may create a whole new market for the Sales Rep.

Other than selling, the Sales Rep must perform account maintenance which includes checking in with accounts, sending letters and brochures, keeping up with new technology, and maintaining good, clean records. This is a very important step that cannot be overlooked, as a lost order or forgetting to call back a potential buyer will lead to a lost sale and possibly a lost job.

The Instrument Sales Representative usually works under the Sales Manager of the organization, and hours for this type of position vary.

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Instrument Sales Representatives can be paid in a number of ways, either through salary, commission, or a combination of both. They will probably also have the opportunity to earn bonuses and fringe benefits. All things considered, earnings can range from $19,000 to $75,000 plus per year, and if someone works on commission, their opportunities to earn are virtually endless.


There seems to always be a need for aggressive, talented Sales Reps, so prospects for this position are good. Those with a background in music and those who have the ability to play an instrument definitely have the knowledge to thrive, and an advantage over other candidates. To succeed, a Sales Rep must not mind traveling as it is a major part of their job.


Generally, advancement prospects for Instrument Sales Representatives are good. To maintain a good position and possibly get promoted to Sales Manager, he or she must meet sales quotas, maintain good relationships and open new accounts.

Education and Training

Most companies require Sales Reps to have high school diplomas, while others prefer their Reps to have college degrees (see our music schools resource). Also, some type of instrument training is useful in order to more fully understand the products the Rep is selling.

Experience, Skills, and Personality

It is common for those who are working for a major instrument manufacturer to have some type of retail or wholesale sales experience in any industry. The sales pitch is the one thing the Rep must master, and with it, they must balance assertiveness with being too forward and possibly even annoying. It is useful if the Sales Rep has the ability to be articulate both over the phone and in person. To sell the instruments, the Rep must be extremely knowledgeable, and the ability to play one or more instruments can also be very helpful.

Unions and Associations

Instrument Sales Representatives may belong to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). He or she might also belong to the Guitar and Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA), depending on the types of instruments being sold.

Suggestions for Getting Started

  • Gain sales experience before you apply for a job as a Sales Rep. You might consider finding a job in a music instrument shop, which will give you an opportunity to talk to Sales Representatives.
  • Make sure you know as much about the company, their instruments, etc., as possible before applying.
  • If you play an instrument, find some manufacturers in that family of instruments.
  • Look for a job online by checking out company websites as well as some of the online job sites.

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