So You Want To Be A Sales Engineer When You Grow Up?

Posted by Kurt Rakos on 4/25/19 12:16 PM

At SkyWater Search, we specialize in a number of disciplines and are often asked for advice on how to secure a job in a specific sector. Here, we explain what it takes to succeed in the role of sales engineer.

What is a sales engineer? 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a sales engineer “sells complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses.” In this role, you’ll need extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and a detailed understanding of the scientific processes that make these products work.”

What are the real-life responsibilities of a sales engineer?

The role of a sales engineer is to connect and communicate with prospects and customers in order to explain and promote the benefits of the products or services you’re selling. It’s an influencing job that requires deep product knowledge. But to be a successful sales engineer, you’ll also need a solid understanding of your industry, your current market, and the shifting expectations of your current and future customers. What problems are these organizations trying to solve? How can the sales engineer’s product or service help them overcome those problems? These are the kinds of questions and challenges that would need to motivate you every day on the job.

Because of their pivotal role in the sales process, sales engineers use sophisticated sales and negotiating skills to finalize pricing and other aspects of sales contracts. In the sales engineer role, you would also be expected to work closely with other organizational functions, particularly marketing, new product development, and client education.

What qualifications does a sales engineer need?

Typically, a degree in engineering or a similar discipline is considered a minimum qualification to be a sales engineer. Very often, engineers who demonstrate superior product knowledge and sales skills are ideal candidates for the sales engineer role. However, with the right background, product knowledge, industry knowledge and engineering experience, you might be a great fit, even without the engineering degree.

Sales engineers cannot afford to rest on their laurels once their initial qualification is completed. Due to the technical, scientific and rapidly evolving nature of the role, you will continually attend training courses and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in your sector. Most employers will provide on the job training and the majority of sales engineers also study Math and most science related subjects.

What does it take to succeed as a sales engineer? 

To put it bluntly, the role of a sales engineer is not for the faint hearted. Sales engineers often work to strict deadlines as their income relies on their ability to close a sale. It is not unusual for sales engineers to work long hours to achieve their goals. In our experience, the most successful sales engineers are very internally motivated and goal oriented, and are able to combine specific technical skills and qualifications with strong interpersonal skills.

What do sales engineers earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for sales engineers in 2018 was $101,420, or $48.76 per hour.

What are the career prospects for sales engineers? 

Not surprisingly, they are excellent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which measures job growth in ten-year increments, says “employment of sales engineers is projected to grow 7 percent between 2016 and 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.” Because technology continues to advance with increasing speed, product offerings and client expectations are growing ever more sophisticated. This, in turn, is expected to drive a growing need for talented sales engineers. Those candidates who bring sales skills as well as engineering qualifications will have the edge on the competition.

So, Do You Want to be a Sales Engineer?

If all of this (or most of it) sounds like you, maybe it's time to take a closer look at this very exciting career path. At SkyWater Search Partners, we would love to help you explore our current opportunities.

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Topics: For Job Seekers, sales, engineering