Selling technological products is a complex task requiring the collaboration of different sales professionals. Sales Engineers play a crucial role in this process. They leverage their technical expertise, business acumen, and sales skills to ensure that offered solutions match what customers are looking for in the market.
In this guide, we will explore the primary responsibilities of Sales Engineers, along with the required skills, average salary, and job outlook. We will also outline the steps you need to take to start a career in this field in 2023.
What Is a Sales Engineer?
A Sales Engineer is a professional who sells a wide range of complex scientific and technological products. These may include:
- Software solutions: from widely used CRMs to applications for specific industries
- Hardware: for example, networking equipment or industrial machinery
- Healthcare technology: medical imaging devices, diagnostic tools, healthcare information systems, etc.
- Scientific equipment: laboratory settings or tools used in research, for instance
- IT services: cloud computing, data management, cybersecurity consulting, etc.
- Environmental technologies: products related to renewable energy, environmental monitoring, or energy-efficient solutions
Sales Engineers usually work in business-to-business (B2B) settings, meaning they sell products to other companies rather than individual customers. As a part of a sales team, they bring clarity to clients’ pain points, help customize solutions to address their technical needs, and assist other sales professionals in articulating the value of the offered product.
Responsibilities of a Sales Engineer
Sales Engineers’ daily duties may vary depending on the industry, company, and the nature of the products or services they sell. In most cases, however, their responsibilities include the following:
- Acting as a technical resource for customers and the sales team providing guidance on technical issues, answering questions, and troubleshooting problems.
- Gathering customers’ technical requirements.
- Preparing technical presentations to explain to customers how the products and services work.
- Collaborating with the product development team to tailor solutions for customers’ needs.
- Working closely with the sales team to develop strategies, create proposals, and negotiate contracts.
- Conducting training sessions for customers to help them understand how to use the products effectively.
- Collecting customer feedback to make improvements to the sales process.
In summary, Sales Engineers provide crucial technical expertise, support the sales process, and act as intermediaries between sales and technical teams.
Sales Engineer Skills
To perform their duties effectively, Sales Engineers must possess a unique skill set. Here is a brief overview of what employers usually seek in candidates for Sales Engineer roles.
- In-depth understanding of the product’s technical aspects
- Knowledge of the industry in which the company operates, including trends, competitors, and emerging technologies
- Proficiency in using sales, analytics, and presentation tools (Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Analytics, or similar)
- Understanding of the sales cycle
- Understanding of the product development cycle
- Familiarity with industry-specific regulations, standards, and compliance requirements
- Active-listening skills to hear clients’ concerns, questions, and feedback to better understand their needs and tailor solutions accordingly
- Communication skills to be able to clearly articulate the product’s value
- Presentation skills to deliver engaging and informative presentations
- Problem-solving skills and critical thinking to analyze complex issues and find the best solutions
- Collaboration skills to work effectively with technical and nontechnical professionals
In addition to these hard and soft skills, staying up to date with the latest advancements in technology within their field is essential for a successful career as a Sales Engineer.
Average Sales Engineer Salary and Job Outlook
Based on the data from Glassdoor, Sales Engineers in the United States earn an average annual salary of $85,899. Additionally, they receive an estimated $35,841 per year in bonuses and commissions. The most common income range for this profession is between $94K and $160K.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for Sales Engineers are expected to grow by 5 percent from 2022 to 2032. On average, there might be around 5,900 job openings for Sales Engineers per year over the next decade.
Sales Engineer Career Path: How to Become a Sales Engineer
Now that you know what Sales Engineers do, what skills they must possess, and their income potential, let’s explore what steps you need to take if you want to pursue this career.
Choose an Industry
Firstly, it’s important to choose the industry you would like to work in. Sales Engineers are in demand in various fields, including technology, manufacturing, telecommunication, construction, and healthcare. Consider your interests, career goals, and previous work experience. For instance, if you have worked in the healthcare sector before, it will give you an added advantage when applying for a Sales Engineering role in a company that offers diagnostic tools for hospitals.
Get a Degree
Most Sales Engineer jobs require a bachelor’s degree in engineering or computer science. But while a degree provides a solid foundation for starting a career in tech sales, it is not always a strict requirement. Many Sales Engineers have successfully entered the field through alternative paths. They compensated for lacking formal technical education with relevant certifications, completing short-term training programs, or practical experience in a certain domain.
The Sales Engineering program at Careerist lasts nine weeks. It is designed to equip you with all the necessary skills and knowledge for becoming a Sales Engineer.
Obtaining relevant certifications will improve your credibility in the field and help you stand out among other candidates for Sales Engineering roles. Some examples of certificates that may be valuable include:
- The Certified Sales Engineer(CSE) certification from North American Association of Sales Engineering
- The Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) from the National Association of Sales Professionals
- The Certified Professional Sales Leader (CPSL) from the National Association of Sales Professionals
You can also consider getting certified in specific technical areas, such as cybersecurity or data management.
Like many other careers, hands-on experience is crucial in Sales Engineering. Consider taking up internships or entry-level positions to practice your sales skills and learn the ins and outs of the industry. This will also help you build a network of contacts that can be helpful in your job search.
Apply for Sales Engineer vacancies
Once you have gained the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience, it’s time to start applying for Sales Engineer vacancies. You can begin your search on online job boards like Indeed, Monster, or LinkedIn Jobs. Additionally, you can follow companies you are interested in on LinkedIn and utilize your network of contacts to find job opportunities. Remember to tailor your resume and cover letter to emphasize relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments for each role you are applying for.
As a Sales Engineer, you are responsible for bridging the gap between technical teams and clients, helping them understand complex technical products and services, and translating their needs into technical requirements. It is a rewarding career for anyone who wants to use a combination of technical expertise, business acumen, and people skills daily. Additionally, Sales Engineering offers excellent career growth opportunities and a competitive compensation package.
Apply for Sales Engineering training today.