Technical Sales Engineers are in charge of selling a range of technical goods and services (e.g. scientific, agricultural, and industrial products; electricity, telecommunications services, and computer services) to governments and to commercial and industrial establishments domestically and internationally. Sales Engineers are employed by establishments that produce or provide technical goods and services, such as pharmaceutical companies, industrial equipment manufacturing companies, computer services firms, engineering firms, and hydroelectric companies, or they may be self-employed specialists who offer their services to other companies.
The Sales function is divided into two broad categories based on the type of customer: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumers (B2C). Sales Engineers tend to specialize in selling a particular line of goods or services in B2B Sales.
What differentiates a Technical Sales professional from ordinary sales personnel is the detailed product knowledge, the understanding of technical specifications, and the expertise to understand customer requirements regarding product modification.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Sales Engineers are required to complete.
- Promoting sales to existing clients and identifying and soliciting potential new ones:
- Conducting research, identifying, and contacting prospective customers;
- using their expertise to understand their customers’ requirements and to assess their needs and resources in order to recommend the appropriate goods or services;
- arranging meetings and presenting the good or service in a convincing and persuasive manner;
- using their technical skills and knowledge to explain the benefits of their products or services, showing how they’re better than their competitors’ products;
- developing reports and proposals as part of their sales presentations to illustrate the benefits of using the good or service they’re promoting;
- providing their input to product design when goods or services must be tailored to suit their clients’ needs; and
- preparing and administering sales agreements, taking into account the costs of installing, delivering, and maintaining equipment or services.
- Following up with clients after the sale to resolve any problems that may have arisen and to provide ongoing support:
- Providing technical support to their clients and troubleshooting technical problems related to equipment, as required; and
- acting as a liaison between the customer and the company.
- Meeting and/or exceeding weekly, quarterly, monthly, and annual sales targets for the assigned territory and business; and
- Attending networking events in order to identify potential business opportunities.
- Carrying out administrative tasks:
- Tracking their sales activity and writing the corresponding reports; and
- negotiating prices and sales contracts.
- Working alongside Sales Associates and Marketing staff to develop and implement business strategies aimed to increase company’s market share:
- Focusing on the technical aspects of the job; and
- developing and implementing new and original sales strategies.
- Working with research and development departments to help identify and develop new products:
- Actively participating with and providing input to the product development teams and supporting their initiatives; and
- monitoring competitors, carrying out market research, and keeping up-to-date on the latest industry trends and materials in order to identify possible improvements for the company’s products or services.
- Preparing and delivering technical presentations explaining products or services to existing and potential customers.
- Conferring with customers and other Engineers to assess equipment needs and to determine system requirements.
- Collaborating with Sales teams to understand customer requirements and to provide sales support.
- Securing and renewing orders and arranging delivery.
- Developing and modifying products and services to meet customer needs.
- Helping clients solve problems with already installed equipment.
- Recommending improved materials or machinery to customers, showing how changes will lower costs or increase production.
- Researching and developing new products.
The average Sales Engineer salary is $68,506 per year or $35 per hour. This is around 2.1 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $48,000 while most experienced workers make up to $96,000. These results are based on 77 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Technological skills:
- Having extensive knowledge of the technologically sophisticated products they sell in order to explain their advantages and answer customers’ questions;
- being able to provide excellent technical support; and
- possessing the necessary technical acumen to understand complex concepts and translate them in a way that customers can understand.
- Adaptive personality with the ability to learn and apply new sales strategies quickly:
- Being resilient when facing challenges.
- Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, with other members of the Sales team and in order to build relationships with clients;
- having a friendly and engaging personality in order to create positive interactions with clients;
- providing high levels of customer service to existing clients and potential customers; and
- being confident and persuasive enough to be able to make the sale; and
- being polite and patient while dealing with difficult clients.
- Being resourceful, energetic, driven, structured, and displaying a strong desire to take initiative.
- Strong organizational, operational, and planning skills in a customer service and sales focused environment:
- Multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- being proactive and goal-oriented;
- being able to work independently with minimal supervision and as part of a multidisciplinary team; and
- being able to handle time constraints while achieving the required goals.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner;
- listening to the customer’s desires and concerns in order to recommend solutions, possibly including customizing a product; and
- being able to gather, monitor, and analyze all types of quantitative and qualitative data into sales reports.
A Sales Engineer’s job involves selling complex solutions which require specialist technical knowledge, therefore, they’ll need a university or college degree in a relevant subject, such as Electronic Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, or Chemistry. If the products they sell are technical, but not that complex, applicants might be able to enter this profession without a degree or they might be required to have a Sales or Business degree instead. However, they’ll be required to have a sound understanding of how the products or services work before presenting it to prospective customers. Employers look for candidates with at least 5 to 10 years of experience in the field. Being fluent in at least one foreign language will also set an applicant apart from the other candidates, as well as being proficient in word processing and spreadsheet software.
Most Sales Engineers receive a base salary that tends to be supplemented by target-driven commissions and bonuses. Furthermore, they are likely to be provided with a company car or transportation payments, since most Sales Engineers need to travel around the country to meet with customers. Hence, most employers will require them to have a valid driving licence.
Typical working hours for Sales Engineers are usually irregular since their job involves both office and field work, so working extra hours on a daily basis can be common. Frequent travel may also be involved, especially for Sales Engineers responsible for managing the sales activity across a large region.
Career progression for a Sales Engineer involves gaining enough technical sales experience for a specific product or market, then progressing into managerial roles or moving laterally into different technical functions (e.g. research and development or product design and development).