IN THIS ARTICLE
- What Is a Technical Sales Representative?
- What Does a Technical Sales Representative Do?
- Technical Sales Representative Salary
- Technical Sales Representative Job Description
- Technical Sales Representative Job Description Template
- Technical Sales FAQs
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If you’re interested in working closely with technical and scientific products, but don’t want to get into the development weeds, then a career in technical sales could be right for you. In addition to getting a first look at new technology products and being on the frontlines of emerging industry trends, technical sales representatives are among the most in-demand professionals in the United States, with rapid job growth, abundant job opportunities, and competitive salaries. A career in technical sales also offers exciting challenges—representatives can use their technical knowledge to help prospective customers solve business problems, execute creative sales campaigns, and promote company products they believe in.
What Is a Technical Sales Representative?
A technical sales representative is a salesperson who has the technical expertise and in-depth scientific knowledge of the technology they sell. Depending on the organization, a technical sales representative can be responsible for the end-to-end sales process, or be part of a larger sales team in which they are responsible for demonstrating a technical product, explaining complicated concepts to customers, and establishing the technical needs of customers.
Related Read: What is Tech Sales?
What Does a Technical Sales Representative Do?
A technical sales representative markets technological and scientific products to prospective customers. This is accomplished in the following ways:
* Using their technical knowledge to explain product specifications and complex concepts to customers
* Performing demonstrations of technical products
* Using sales techniques such as storytelling, active listening, and communication skills to persuade prospective customers to buy a product
* Analyzing customer needs and recommending relevant products
* Building and maintaining relationships with clients through regular check-ins
* Setting realistic sales targets and meeting monthly sales goals
* Working as part of a sales team, picking up and handing off different parts of the sales process as needed
* Overseeing product installations
* Staying on top of industry trends
Technical Sales Representative Salary
Technical sales representatives can earn a competitive base salary plus commissions and bonuses. The average salary of a technical sales representative in the United States depends on the level of seniority, education, location, and years of experience.
Entry-level technical sales representatives have an average base salary of around $55,000 a year, with commissions bringing the average compensation to around $80,000, according to PayScale.
In more competitive markets such as San Francisco and New York City, the base salary for entry-level technical sales representatives is around $85,000, according to Salary.com, with commissions bringing the total compensation upwards of $100,000.
Mid-level technical sales representatives have an average base salary of around $68,300 a year, with commissions bringing their total average compensation to around $95,000.
In more competitive markets like San Francisco and New York City, mid-level tech sales reps can make around $82,000 in base salary, according to Glassdoor, with commissions potentially doubling that.
Experienced Level Salary
Senior-level technical sales professionals have an average base salary of around $74,000, with commissions and bonuses bumping their total average compensation above $104,000, according to Glassdoor.
In more competitive markets like San Francisco and New York City, senior-level tech sales reps can make around $145,000 in base salary, according to Glassdoor, with commissions potentially doubling that.
Technical Sales Representative Job Description
This description for a Technical Sales Specialist role in the automation division at IBM is typical for a technical sales representative job listing.
When compared with the job description of software sales roles, technical sales jobs have a greater focus on technical skills and knowledge. Some of the common skills listed in technical sales representative job descriptions include technical expertise in the products sold, subject matter expertise, in-depth knowledge of client issues, and supporting clients when they adopt new technologies.
Technical Sales Representative Requirements
In addition to the subject matter and technical expertise, the following qualifications and soft skills are key requirements to landing a job as a technical sales representative.
Education requirements can vary from company to company. While a college education is not required to work in technical sales, many recruiters look for candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, marketing, business, engineering, or a related field. Certain online courses and bootcamps also count as relevant training.
Acquire the Required Skills
All technical sales representatives should acquire a range of technical skills and soft skills. On the technical front, this means learning how the technology works, understanding industry trends, and developing in-depth technical knowledge to help companies use technology to solve business problems. On the soft skills front, technology sales representatives should develop strong communication skills, practice their interpersonal skills, and learn how to give sales presentations.
While it’s important to have technical expertise, prior experience in customer service and the sales process is just as valuable to hiring managers. Having hands-on experience working with sales teams, troubleshooting products with customers and other forms of on-the-job training leads to a more confident sales pitch.
Experience With Real-Time Projects
Real-time computing plays a growing role in logistics, telecommunications, transportation, medical equipment, software as a service (SaaS), and other data-heavy industries. Technical sales representatives benefit from having experience with and scientific knowledge of real-time projects so that they can both sell and offer customer service for real-time clients.
All salespersons should have the accurate product knowledge and be able to discuss product specifications with prospective clients. Technical sales representatives should be able to go even further. In addition to having in-depth knowledge of technology products, they should be able to clearly and concisely explain complex technical and scientific concepts to customers and discuss in detail how a product can solve an organization’s technical problems.
Technical Sales Representative Responsibilities
A technical sales representative’s responsibilities can vary from company to company. Below are some of the responsibilities typical of technical salespersons.
Assessing and Evaluating Competitors
Similar to software and tech sales representatives, technical sales representatives need to know where their products stand in relation to competitors. Sales representatives need to contextualize their own products, understand the competition, and know the strengths and weaknesses of related products.
Developing New Business Opportunities
Technical sales representatives proactively identify potential customers by researching an organization’s best contacts and developing effective ways to approach and pitch prospective clients. This involves analyzing customers, understanding the nature of their technical problems, and matching them with product solutions.
Prospective customers are more likely to become paying customers if they trust their technical sales representative. Strong interpersonal skills—such as active listening, dependability, patience, and teamwork—are important for building relationships and driving product sales.
Order Punching and Keeping Track of a Customers’ Buying History
The best salespersons keep track of a customer’s buying history to know what tools and technologies the client is already using when they adopted the company’s technology, and whether they’re due for a check-in or an upgrade. Circling back to existing customers is an important part of the sales process.
Resolving Implementation Roadblocks
Selling technology is only one facet of the technical sales role. Technical sales representatives are also responsible for ensuring the smooth implementation of technology and resolving roadblocks. This is where agile thinking and strong problem-solving skills are useful.
Providing Technical Support and Advice
To keep customers loyal and happy, technical sales representatives usually offer customer service support to make sure clients get the most out of their technology.
Technical Sales Representative Job Description Template
Below is a comparison of two technical sales representative job listings. One is for an established multinational technology company, Dell. Another is for the software development startup, AgilityIO. Although both listings share similarities, the comparison will highlight key differences and what they mean.
The job title. “Inside Product Specialist III” is a technical sales role at Dell that commands an average base salary of around $64,000, according to Glassdoor. It is not unusual for legacy companies with larger sales teams to assign different job titles and levels to their technical sales representatives. Don’t be intimidated by unfamiliar or complex-sounding job titles—they are often used for internal purposes to determine compensation and the type of work a salesperson is exposed to.
Location. Although Dell is hiring for its Nashville, TN; Oklahoma City, OK; and Red Rock, TX offices, you can assume there could be a chance for working remotely, unless a listing specifies that a worker’s physical presence is required. “Even if the job is first established as an office role, employers may make exceptions for the right candidate, so never pass on an opportunity because it may not immediately match our lifestyle or location,” according to the Harvard Business Review.
Essential vs. desired requirements. Essential requirements are the non-negotiable skills an employer is looking for, while desired requirements are the nice-to-have skills. In this particular job listing, Dell does not specify requirements for knowledge of a specific technology or segment of the tech industry, which suggests that the company is looking for a generalist with transferable sales and technical skills (i.e. researching the needs of potential clients, cold-calling and qualifying leads, prospecting, and getting the sales process started) who can learn about its products on the job.
The job title. AgilityIO’s job title indicates that the company is looking for a technical sales representative with a software engineering or development background who, in addition to strong communication and interpersonal skills, also has the technical expertise and can serve as a bridge between the engineering team and the client. The base salary range of $60,000-140,000 is presumably based on years of experience.
Location. Unlike Dell’s job description, AgilityIO’s description explicitly states that the role is “full-time onsite,” which means candidates must be in New York City.
Requirements. Startups are often more flexible than legacy companies when it comes to requirements. For example, where Dell mentions that it prefers candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree, AgilityIO makes no mention of education requirements. Instead, the company focuses on the responsibilities of the role. This suggests that it is casting a wider net and will consider candidates who do not come from a traditional technical sales background.
Technical Sales FAQs
Still have questions about becoming a technical sales representative? We have some answers to frequently asked questions.
What Are the Required Skills in Technical Sales?
As a technical sales representative, it’s important to have interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, product knowledge, the ability to accept rejection, and the ability to work with a sales team. Some online courses and bootcamps, such as Springboard’s Tech Sales Career Track, offer hands-on practice with these valuable skills in addition to mentorship and instructor guidance.
Other required skills that are taught through Springboard’s course include pipeline development, research workflow, engagement strategies, lead qualification, using tools such as CRMs, and stress management.
How Can You Become a Good Technical Sales Representative?
There are many ways to improve your technical sales craft.
The first is to take an up-to-date course or bootcamp. These innovative training programs teach the latest sales techniques, cover industry best practices, allow students to practice their problem-solving skills through guided roleplaying, and give students a framework to develop their technical expertise and build relationships with clients.
You can also get sales experience in a different role. Sales experience is transferable—if you hone your skills at a different company or industry, learn how to offer excellent customer service, and gain experience researching and understanding client problems and needs, you will be in a good place to succeed as a technical sales representative.
It’s also important to seek mentors, who can both offer networking opportunities and invaluable career guidance. Industry mentors have likely seen it all, so if there’s an opportunity to learn from their wisdom and experience, jump on it.
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