Sales Engineer Job Description
Sales engineers sell highly complex technological and scientific products. Because products of this nature often have to be compatible with existing systems, an advanced understanding of how and why the products work is required to sell them effectively. Additionally, the people with the power to purchase these types of products will require answers to many technical questions that only an engineer can answer.
Most of the responsibilities for sales engineers are very similar to those that you’d find in other sales jobs. They identify potential clients, convince them that their products meet their needs, and negotiate a contract. As with all sales jobs, their pitches focus on how a product can solve a specific business problem.
Some sales engineers work on their own, while others partner with a more advanced salesperson. In these situations, the salesperson can focus on selling while the engineer is able to fill in the technical details.
In some companies, sales engineers may work closely with the research and development groups to help develop new products or features based on client feedback.
Work Environment and Schedule
Sales engineers work in many different industries, including telecommunications, electronics manufacturing, and scientific services. Some work directly for the manufacturers, while others work for sales firms.
Most sales engineers split their time between their office and the road. Frequent visits with existing and potential clients are often required, so sales engineers with large territories can spend extended amounts of time away from home.
Because the majority of their pay is tied to commission, this can be a stressful occupation. Many sales engineers put in long days and work on weekends to meet their goals.
Managing the needs of clients can also be a very difficult task for people in this profession. Because their purchases are so large and impact key components of their business, client demands can be great. They expect sales engineers to be responsive to their problems regardless of the day or time.
How to Become a Sales Engineer
A bachelor’s degree in engineering, architecture, or a related field is required for most sales engineer jobs.
Once hired, entry level sales engineers receive extensive training in sales processes and customer relations before they are able to practice independently.
If working in a field that moves particularly quickly (like electronics or information technology), sales engineers have to work hard to stay up to date. It doesn’t take long before technical knowledge becomes obsolete in those areas.
There are currently 66,400 sales engineers in the United States, with 3,210 new sales engineer job openings created each year.
Sales Engineer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Sales Engineer Salaries
Sales Engineer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most sales engineers make between $68,700 – $117,200 per year, or $33.04 – $56.35 per hour.