Guide to Sales Jobs in Japan

By Elena Vigani | November 2020

Do you have an extrovert character, love talking to people, and have good communication, and relational skills? Maybe a sales job is what you are looking for. If you want to find sales jobs in Japan, this guide is the one for you. It will teach you all you need to know in order to create a successful and interesting career in the increasing world of sales.

This article on sales jobs in Japan is a subsection of our ultimate guide to jobs in Japan.

sales jobs in japan
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    Sales industry in Japan

    The Japanese economy is one of the most prominent economies of the world. It is the third economy worldwide, following the ones of the USA and China. In recent years, it has expanded considerably, in particular its sales sector, which has started to increase the trades also with foreign countries. Japan plays a key role in the Asian and international context in terms of consolidating financial stability thanks to the Abe Government's action in favour of greater trade openness and consolidation of the multilateral trade system. 

    The Japanese customs system is part of several international conventions for the transit of goods. Japan has also signed a customs cooperation agreement with the European Union and several free trade agreements with Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Switzerland, APEC, and ASEAN. Japan’s exports are mainly based on automobiles, which account for 15% of the total exports, electronic products, machinery, passengers, and goods ships. The main countries where Japan sells its products and services are the United States, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

    Thanks to the increasing weight that sales currently have, the job of a salesman has become highly sought after and you can find many sales jobs in Japan. In this job you never get bored because the working hours of a salesman are occupied by several activities. He or she should plan achievable goals, constantly monitor them, always study the products or services to sell, maintain contact with established clients, search for new clients, create stable and long-term relationships, and so on.

    sales jobs in japan

    What companies employ sales workers in Japan

    If you want to know which types of companies offer sales jobs in Japan, the easiest answer could be almost every type of company. As I already said, the sales sector has increased its weight worldwide and now companies require people specialized in that field. 

    For this article, let us describe 7 types of companies that offer sales jobs in Japan:

    Large Corporations

    One type of company that offers these positions is large corporations. Large corporations are companies of large size that usually work beyond the national borders. They need experts in selling products or services because nowadays the competition is extremely high. This type of worker can help the company win the competition by convincing other people or companies to choose its products or services instead of products or services of other companies. These multinational corporations could have to do sales to other multinationals in Japan or have you coordinating sales with the sales team in your home country.

    Manufacturing Companies

    Another type of company with positions as a salesperson is manufacturing companies. The manufacturing sector refers to the part of the industrial sector aimed at transforming raw materials into final products. For this reason, they need knowledgeable salespeople in Japan who will sell their raw materials, parts, or products to other companies.

    Commercial Companies

    Commercial companies have as the main duty the transfer of goods in space and time. They carry out indirect production. They are companies that don’t produce their own products or services, but they buy and sell products or services of other companies. Between this category, there are, for instance, retail companies, distribution companies, wholesalers, and supermarkets.

    Software companies

    There are software companies that hire B2B salespeople in Japan. Software companies are companies specialized in the IT field; they can be both long-lasting companies and startups. Whatever type is, it needs experts in selling because the IT field is developing very fast. it is necessary for companies to be able to sell their innovative technology products and services before other companies develop the same software. They hire both foreigners to sell to multinationals in Japan or Japanese to sell to Japanese corporations.

     

    Export companies

    If you truly want to become an expert in selling, you should be more interested in this one. Export companies are companies specialized in selling products or services abroad. This type of company includes a high number of sales employees, as it is one of the main activities of the company. Export companies can sell almost every type of product or service. Japan’s most numerous export companies are car export companies. 

    Job Boards and Book Sellers

    Publishers like Oxford and Cambridge often hire Westerners to sell their books to University and private school English teachers. Also, job boards like GaijinPot, CareerCross, and the others also hire Westerners to sell their services to English speaking business owners.

    Project-based (Freelance)

    If you are an experienced sales professional, you can look for this opportunity and think about creating a career as a sales freelancer. Japan, and the world too, like the flexibility related to freelancers. Currently, there is an increasing demand for this type of worker.

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    Types of Sales Jobs in Japan

    The act of selling products or services includes a wide range of activities that can be classified into different types of jobs. Here’s a list of some of the sales jobs in Japan, with their description:

    Sales Manager

    In terms of selling, this is one of the highest positions you can reach. A sales manager is responsible for the company’s sales. The Sales Manager is the figure who defines the company's business plan, identifies sales objectives and strategies to achieve them, defines the reference target, and the budget available. The Sales Manager should also prepare the sales team, select and train the personnel who will form the company's sales force.

    Sales Assistant

    A sales assistant is the person who helps customers every day, providing a high-quality service and helping customers live a real shopping experience. A sales assistant can have a high impact on sales: if he or she does a good job every day, the company can have a positive impact on the final level of income. The sales assistant must know very well the products or services that are selling, what the competitors do, and the main marketing strategies.

    Account Manager

    The main duty of an account manager is to maintain relationships between the company and its customers. He or she should establish long-term relationships based on trust with their assigned customers, identify potential customers, try to create new relationships with these new customers, communicate clients' needs to the company, and so on.

    Sales Support Representative

    The sales support representative works with the sales team providing them support in several ways. Between the main activities of this type of worker, there are processing orders, entering data, providing price quotes and invoices, keeping records of interactions with clients and potential clients, responding to requests for proposals, and scheduling meetings and product demonstrations between sales representatives and clients.

    Inside Sales Representative

    Also known as an outbound telemarketing operator, an inside sales representative is responsible, through IT or telephone tools, for acquiring new customers, as well as improving relations with existing customers.

    Outside sales representative

    This is a more traditional type of salesperson. An outside sales representative manages sales to customers through in-person interactions. Usually, he or she tries to develop relationships with new customers, but they can also work on consolidated customers, even though generally companies employ inside sales representatives for this latter type of customer. 

    Retail Sales Associate

    A retail sales associate works in a retail store. His or her main responsibilities are greeting customers, providing assistance, and answering questions about the products or merchandise for sale, suggesting items based on the needs of each customer. Some retail professionals also help with managing and ordering inventory, processing refunds, and learning more about products to share information with customers.

    Business Development Manager

    A business development manager works with the sales team in order to think, plan and create successful sales strategies, and find good business channels aimed at achieving corporate goals and increasing the general sales.

    Export Manager

    As you can easily understand from the name, an export manager is a person who manages the company’s commercial development in foreign countries. It is responsible for selling products and services beyond the national borders.

    Lead Development and Generation Specialist or Business Development

    This role is mainly aimed at developing leads that salespeople can easily follow up on and convert into customers. His or her duties include communicating with people in order to determine who is a potential customer, creating leads, and distributing them to the sales team. This type of sales position has become more popular these days as sales team become more specialized than their predecessors.

    Sales Engineer

    A sales engineer plays a liaison role between the sales area, the technical department, and the production activity. He manages customer relations, provides technical support and consults on the development of customized solutions.

    Sales Consultant 

    Depending on the contractual form, a sales consultant can be multi-firm (selling products of several companies not in competition) or single-firm (selling products of one company). In any case, he or she works on commission, with earnings based largely on commissions.

    Project-Based

    In Japan, there is also the possibility of working as a freelance salesperson. This type of worker is similar to a multi-firm sales consultant because he or she can work for several companies. A freelance salesperson is someone expert in selling who provides useful tips to companies and helps them reach their business goals.

    sales jobs in Japan

    Skills needed for Sales jobs in Japan

    In order to become a good salesperson, you should develop several skills and knowledge. These range from hard skills, such as computer skills and language skills, to soft skills, such as team working skills and communication skills. Here is a list of some of the most important skills you must develop if you want to find sales jobs in Japan:

    Computer Skills

    Nowadays, IT skills are a compulsory set of skills to develop not only for software developers or other IT programmers but also for almost every type of job. A good salesperson must deal with CRM programs and other basic tools. The more you are used to dealing with the technologies, the more you will be competitive compared to the other salesperson.

    Japanese Language Skills

    As a salesperson, you will communicate with lots of people in order to create possible long-term relationships. How can you do that without knowing Japanese? If you want to find sales jobs in Japan, you must have a good knowledge of the Japanese language. 

    Here is a collection of guides on how to learn Japanese based on your starting level.

    If you already have Japanese basic knowledge and you want to become fluent in this language, you should read the BFF Tokyo article about How to Reach Advanced Level Japanese and Beyond

    If you have to learn more about grammars, vocabulary, and speaking, I suggest you read our Intermediate Guide to Learning Japanese.

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    Other Language Skills

    Knowledge of other foreign languages is an advantage for a salesperson. Knowledge of English is a must. In addition, knowing other foreign languages will facilitate communication with your customers around the world. Your customers will appreciate it if you are able to communicate in their language. Popular languages include Chinese and other asian languages.

    Communication Skills

    This is the most important skill for a salesperson, as you will be constantly in touch with other people. You should be able to communicate efficiently, using an appropriate tone of voice and language style. You should also be a good listener in order to listen and understand the problems and needs of the customers. You should also understand body language to increase the knowledge of your customers.

    Relationship Building Skills

    Related to communication skills, there are also relationship building skills and these are as essential as the previous ones. The salesperson is the link between customers and the company, he or she should be able to establish relationships with consolidated customers and with new ones. Relationship-building skills include several soft skills necessary to form positive and long-term relationships. 

    Teamwork Skills

    As a salesperson, you will not work alone. You will have a team made up of several people, such as sales manager, sales assistant, inside and outside sales representatives, and so on. You must be able to collaborate with all these people in order to successfully achieve the company’s goals. 

    Time Management Skills

    Another essential skill is time management. A good salesperson is able to make the most of his or her time. You must understand which activities need more time and which ones don’t need to waste time. The same is for customers: investing time in profitable clients will make you earn more money in the shortest possible time.

    Marketing Skills

    As the competition between companies today is extremely high, you should be as confident with marketing strategies as possible. Customers can find a large number of the same products or services from different companies. For this reason, a good salesperson must also have marketing skills that help him or her attract customers and convince them to choose his/her products or services instead of the ones of the competitors.

    Other important skills in order to find sales jobs in Japan are change management skills, problem-solving skills, empathy, ambition, adaptability, curiosity, network ability, and so on.

    What sales CRM are used in Japan

    In order to find sales jobs in Japan, you should be comfortable with some of the software most used there. But let’s take a step back! First of all, what is CRM? CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. CRMs are customer relationship management software, useful for organizing contact information, managing relationships, tracking interactions, and tracking the entire online and offline experience with current and potential customers and other contacts. They help users to have a clear view of their company's relationships with customers, customer service users, colleagues or suppliers.

    Here is a list of some of the CRMs most used in Japan:

    • Zoho: this is the most used CRM software worldwide. Zoho works with 150,000 companies in 180 countries;
    • Salesforce: this is a CRM solution based on cloud that helps companies connect with customers in a new way
    • vcita: founded in 2010, vcita is the number one business management and client engagement app, created for small and medium-size businesses;
    • bidlogix: it is based in Brighton, UK, and it was founded in 2013. It provides auction software houses around the globe;
    • Manufacturing X: it is dedicated only to manufacturers. It provides a three-in-one combination of CRM, CPQ (Configure, Price and Quote), and Commerce;
    • GreenRope: it is an all-in-one CRM that helps companies accelerate their growth by increasing awareness, generating leads, and driving conversations.

    Salaries for Sales jobs in Japan

    If you want to create a career in the field of sales in Japan, you will be surely interested in how much a salesman earns. The sales sector is an interesting field also in terms of earnings. Salaries change according to several things, such as the years of experience, the level of education, the knowledge of the Japanese language, and so on. Most of the salaries of salesmen are made by a based salary, also known as a fixed part, which is always present and it is independent of sales, and a variable part, which depends on the number of products and services sold by the salesperson. Thus, the better you will be at selling your company's products, the more you will earn. The earnings depend also on the type of salesperson you are. Here is a list of some sales jobs with their incomes:

    Sales Representative

    A sales representative with less than 2 years of experience earns 2 million yen per year. When he or she reaches 5 years of experience, he/she can earn 3 million yen per year. Moving forward, an experience level between five and ten years lands a salary of 4 million yen per year. The salary goes on rising till the end of their career. At the end of the career, a sales representative can expect to earn 6 million yen per year. 

    Sales Assistant

    A sales assistant with less than 2 years of experience 1.7 million yen per year. When he or she reaches 5 years of experience, he/she can earn 2.3 million yen per year. Moving forward, an experience level between five and ten years lands a salary of 3 million yen per year. The salary goes on rising till the end of their career. At the end of the career, a sales assistant can expect to earn 4.2 million yen per year. 

    Sales Engineer

    A sales engineer with less than 2 years of experience 3.6 million yen per year. When he or she reaches 5 years of experience, he/she can earn 4.8 million yen per year. Moving forward, an experience level between five and ten years lands a salary of 6.5 million yen per year. The salary goes on rising till the end of their career. At the end of the career, a salesman can expect to earn 9 million yen per year. 

    Sales Manager

    A sales manager with less than 2 years of experience earns 6/7 million yen per year. When he or she reaches 5 years of experience, he/she can earn 8/9 million yen per year. Moving forward, an experience level between five and ten years lands a salary of 11 million yen per year. At the end of the career, a sales manager can expect to earn 15 million yen per year. 

    If you want to have a complete understanding of what salaries are typical of the sales sector, you could have a look at the Morgan McKinley’s 2020 Salary Guide.

    sales jobs in japan

    Where to find Sales jobs in Japan

    So where do you find sales jobs in Japan? What companies hire foreigners?

    Full-time and part-time positions

    There are several ways to find full-time and part-time sales jobs in Japan. One of the most prominent ways is by searching on social networks and job advertisement sites. Here are some examples of sites where you can find sales jobs in Japan: 

    Another way you can use in order to find a full-time or part-time job in Japan is by checking the website of the companies you are interested in. Many companies organize their websites with a specific section dedicated to new candidates. This is usually called “work with us”, “join our team” or “career”. Here they publish their job offers and available positions. Otherwise, they give you the possibility to send your CV as a spontaneous application. 

    Finally, if you are interested in finding sales jobs in Japan, you can enroll in some recruitment agencies. These agencies have the specific role of helping people find a job. In Japan there are more than 100 recruitment agencies, so you can have a wide range of options. Here is a list of some recruitment agencies you can enroll in:

    Companies that hire non-Japanese speakers

    Between the positions available for non-Japanese speakers there are:

    Companies that hire low levels Japanese speakers

    People who can speak low levels of Japanese, such as N3 or N4, could apply to these positions:

    Project-based

    Working as a freelance salesperson has both pros and cons. On the one hand, being a freelancer could help you gain higher incomes. However, it really depends on the amount of hours dedicated to the job and to your ability to convince people to buy your products and services. In order to find freelance recruiter jobs in Japan, you can choose between two main ways. Firstly, as for the other positions, you can control the websites of the companies you are interested in. Secondly, Japan proposes some websites for freelancers created with the specific purpose of helping freelancers get in touch with companies. The top freelancers’ website is UpWork. This is used by more than 5 million companies. You have to enroll, describe your services, explain your tariffs, and then wait for the companies to contact you.

    sales jobs in japan

    Education for Sales jobs in Japan

    Being a perfect salesperson is a very difficult and demanding challenge. You should study hard, not only in the period of training but throughout the whole career, as you will need to keep up with all the innovations introduced by your competitors and all the new existing marketing strategies. Moreover, you should spend lots of time and energy constantly looking for new opportunities. In order to become a salesperson, you should follow these steps:

    Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

    The best way to start a career in the field of sales is to sign up for a Bachelor’s degree. The degree should be in Business and Economics, Marketing Management, Business Communication, or other related fields. These courses of study will teach you all the theory you need to know in this field. In particular, they will provide information about economic practices, methods of competitors analysis, marketing strategies, communication strategies, and IT skills. 

    Study some Foreign Languages

    As nowadays the world is extremely interconnected, if you want to succeed in selling, you should complete your Bachelor’s education by adding the study of some foreign languages. This is particularly essential if you want to work for an international company. First of all, you must study English, as it is the first language used in trades. Secondly, you should follow some courses of Japanese and try to become fluent in this language. If you have the possibility, study also other foreign languages, as they could facilitate communication with your potential future customers.

    If you want to learn Japanese, you could enroll in a course of the Japan Switch. This is a school of Japanese language with more than 200 students. It is well-known throughout Japan and it is the cheapest Japanese school in Tokyo.

    Earn a Master’s Degree

    This is not a compulsory step, but it will allow you to have more job opportunities and higher incomes. Today, universities offer a high number of Master’s Degrees in the field of Economy. These courses will give you a more in-depth and complete knowledge of the business and sales world.

    Start Working

    The best way to understand if you have all the skills necessary to be a good salesman is through work. If you have the possibility, do an internship during your studies. In this way, you will start putting into practice what you have studied and start creating your network of people.

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