If the tensile strength is exceeded, the material fails: the absorption of forces decreases until the material finally cracks. It should be noted that the material deforms permanently even before the tensile strength is reached.
Tensile strength is measured in N/mm² (force/area) and is a stress. Thus, one considers here a force that is evenly distributed over the cross-section of a component.
As an example: Steel 52 has a minimum tensile strength of 520 N/mm² according to the material data. This means that the component may fail at a tensile load of 520 N (or 52 kg) per millimeter of cross-sectional area at the earliest. However, since permanent deformation already occurs before failure, the calculation is primarily based not on the minimum tensile strength but on the minimum yield strength, which thus represents a better characteristic value for the load-bearing capacity of a material.