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[2023] What does my career trajectory look like being a Sales engineer?

The road to becoming a Sales Engineer is quite simple, if you know what you want. Here’s a detailed guide to help you narrow down your choices.
Ajay Jay
3 min

Do you have a keen interest in business and sales and consider yourself good at understanding tech? Congratulations, you may be a good fit to become a Sales Engineer.

A career as a Technical Sales Engineer may be your next eureka moment as the digital products industry opens doors to endless possibilities.

Forecasted to catapult from $594.5 billion in 2022 to $1,548.9 billion by 2027, the global digital transformation market will grow at a CAGR of 21.2% in the next five years.

Statistics indicate a tremendous growth & upgradation of sophisticated electronics, software, hardware, IoT, telecom products, etc. As a result, demand for Sales Engineering skills is set to skyrocket in the high-tech B2B sales market.

Now that you have a basic idea of the duties of a sales engineer, let us take a deeper look at what this job description entails.

Who is a Sales Engineer, and what do they do?

Sales Engineers are professionals with a unique combination of excellent communication skills, technical knowledge, and business acumen.

Targeting the B2B market predominantly, a Sales Engineer is responsible for technical selling that includes demonstrating the nuances of a product to a customer, helping realize product value to achieve their business goals, and driving impact with unique solutions.

This technical sales cycle generally consists of

1) Detailed proposals

2) Sales pitches

3) Problem-solving

Also, the technical sales process involves

1) Product support

2) Customer assistance

3) Resolving technical issues during the contract tenure.

While this is the technical side of the coin, the business side involves nurturing and building camaraderie and relationships with prospects.

Furthermore, a Sales Engineer must adapt to the client's needs and system requirements and recognize unrealized pain points to compile a resolution for all the problems.

A Sales Engineer must be able to sell a product to the client as a one-stop solution to all the pain points.

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How to become a Sales Engineer?

A Sales Engineer's (SEs) career path usually begins as a sales representative. Although most sales engineers have a technical background like computer science or electronics, experience as a sales rep is often a sought-after requisite to becoming a SE.

However, good control over language and the ability to break down complex ideas into simple words would also put the applicant way ahead of their peers.

Sales Representatives and their salary

A Sales Representative is often a fresher learning the ropes of sales from scratch. In a position that helps you build the foundational skills required to initiate a deal, a sales rep identifies prospective clients, generates leads, and converts said leads into customers.

Daily responsibilities of a sales rep include cold-calling leads, ideating pitches, preparing proposals, organizing meetings, and others.

While the responsibilities of a sales rep seem arduous on the surface, the entry-level sales rep's salary is slated at $71,053, substantiating the role.

A salary number varies based on industry, location, and sometimes experience; rest assured, a good sales rep can grow in ranks quickly and earn more than $70,000 a year.

Associate Sales Engineers and their salary

When a sales rep receives hands-on experience with a tech product, they're eventually recognized as an Associate Sales Engineer (ASE) while growing in the hierarchy.

The responsibilities of an ASE often involve the following:

1) Supporting SEs in generating leads.

2) Growing existing accounts.

3) Preparing technical sales pitches.

4) Completing mundane account configuration activities.

5) Answering level 1 technical questions from current prospects, amongst others.

Furthermore, the associate sales engineer focuses on client requirements that are less complex and concentrate on strengthening sales opportunities with existing customers.

According to Glassdoor, the average pay scale of an Associate Sales Engineer is $110,347 per year.

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Sales Engineers and their salary

A Technical Sales Engineer's roles and responsibilities include the following:

1) Assessing a prospect's technical needs.

2) Presenting the product nuances skillfully.

3) Applying product knowledge to mitigate clients' pain points.

As a SE, cultivating & practicing people skills is as essential as being deft with your selling product.

As depicted in "The Pursuit of Happiness," a Sales Engineer with great people skills can easily navigate his way through decision-makers, stakeholders, and executives of all levels.

Once the deal is sealed, a SE assists with customer support, product implementation, and resolving technical problems.

According to Indeed, the average salary of a sales engineer is $85,750 per year.

Senior Sales Engineers and their salary

As SEs cultivate in-depth knowledge about the product and is wise about sales, they are promoted to the ranking of a Senior Sales Engineer (SSE).

Adding another feather to their hat, "responsibility" becomes key for SSEs as they now operate at the industry level and on more significant sales grounds.

To land the role of an SSE, you must:

1) Possess experience of over five years.

2) Exhibit product selling capabilities working with various departments of an organization.

3) Be able to drive product sales at scale.

4) Be proficient at analyzing client requirements and persuading them to make the decision.

5) Possess the ability to resolve complex technical problems.

Glassdoor estimates an annual salary of $167,124 for a Senior Sales Engineer.

Field Sales Engineers and their salary

As the title entails, a Field Sales Engineer (FSE) resolves customer plights in the field.

In a position that is not necessarily a promotion from an SSE, the responsibility of an FSE is relatively higher in comparison.

A Field Sales Engineer:

1) Ensures the product/solution is operating post-implementation smoothly.

2) Conducts in-depth diagnosis & research of the product located in the field.

3) Recognize areas of possible improvements and report the same to R&D departments.

4) Proffers sales projections.

5) Builds rapport with clients, technical teams, and senior executives of the organization.

According to Salary.com, an average FSE takes home a salary of $93,122 per year in the United States.

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