Becoming a sales engineer: it’s one of those careers where you don’t exactly grow up thinking, “I want to be a sales engineer when I grow up!” Let’s be real—most people just stumble into it. But don’t let the lack of a clear-cut path fool you; this is one tech gig that’s as rewarding as it gets.

Probably not the best gig if you’re an introvert but it’s safe to say that the perks might just give my fellow introverted girlies the courage to step out of that shell. So, if you’re ready to navigate the twists and turns and discover how to actually land the job, keep reading. Spoiler alert: The people I know who are thriving in this role all had completely different paths; however, there’s one thing they all have in common. They know how to sell. 

I’m currently reading a book called “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss. This book was recommended to me by a friend on Instagram. So far, what I’m learning is that negotiating and selling are closely related and there are strategies that you can implement to become very successful at it. But what’s funny about this is… as I’m reading the book, I’m realizing that some of these different techniques have been used on me by a few of my sales engineering friends!

two black women browsing on laptop computers sales engineering
Photo by Christina Morillo

What is a sales engineer?

A sales engineer is the perfect blend of tech guru and smooth talker. You’re not just selling a product; you’re selling a tailored technical solution. You’re also translating complex tech jargon into everyday language that clients can actually understand. You’re basically the bridge between the geeks and the suits, making sure everyone is on the same page and that the product you’re selling looks like the ultimate solution to the client’s problem. In short, a sales engineer is not just a techy, but also a great salesperson who needs to understand selling techniques. 

Education and Certification: No Guaranteed Foot in the Door

Got the degrees and certificates? That’s real cute. But in sales engineering, academic accolades alone won’t cut it. This is one of those careers like, becoming a project manager, or a consultant of some sort. While there are certain degrees and certifications that you can get to familiarize yourself with the language, nothing actually prepares you as much as experience.

But how do you get experience before getting the job? I’ll tell you a little secret a Sr. Sales Engineer told me… sales engineers are usually customers, who turned into systems administrators for the product. Or, product tech support specialists, or consultants who have managed the implementation of the product. The common factor here is the product, having a really good understanding of the product, how it works and having an affinity for sales. 

Experience Reigns Supreme

Experience isn’t just a plus—it’s everything. Your hands-on skills and real-world problem-solving abilities will make or break you in this profession. Sales engineers usually work with complex products; making the role highly technical.

Because the nature of the role requires a high level of expertise, experience will always put you at the top of the list. This is basically the same with most roles. 

Sales Engineer Salary: The Commission Factor

Think it’s all about a fat base salary? Oh, it’s definitely fat, babes. But let’s break it down. In sales, there are targets—BIG numbers—you’ve got to hit. Miss those targets, and your cushy base salary might start looking a bit shaky.

But when you do hit those numbers? That base salary alone will look like chump change next to that plus your commission check. So, remember: while the base salary is sweet, keeping it and raking in even more means you’ve got to be seriously dedicated and passionate about making those sales.

It’s still a sales position, after all. See base salary here > Sales Engineering Salaries on Glassdoor

silver macbook on black woman lap tech sales
Photo by Christina Morillo

Sales Engineering Jobs: High Technical Expertise Required

Sales engineers are typically part of a sales team that includes account executives. They work together to understand customer requirements and provide tailored solutions. The account executive does the prospecting and has some technical knowledge but not at the same level as the sales engineer in some cases. Here are some common industries where you can find sales engineer jobs: 

  • Manufacturing: Includes sectors like industrial machinery, automotive, and consumer goods.
  • Technology: Software, hardware, and IT services.
  • Telecommunications: Networking equipment and communication solutions.
  • Healthcare and Medical Devices: Diagnostic equipment and medical instruments.
  • Aerospace and Defense: Aircraft systems, defense technologies, and related equipment.
  • Construction and Industrial Automation: Building systems and automation solutions.

Resources for Finding Sales Engineer Jobs

These platforms provide listings across various industries and regions, making it easier to find a role that matches your skills and career aspirations​

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