What Is Tech Sales? [2022 Career Guide]
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If you’re interested in the tech industry and want to work closely with some of the world’s most influential innovators, then a tech sales position is a great way to get in on the action while also making a solid living. In addition to being one of the fastest career paths to a six-figure salary, there’s rapid job growth in the tech and software sales sector, with both established tech companies and new startups. With ample tech sales roles, there are a plethora of exciting career opportunities, while new technologies and challenges keep the job interesting.
What Is Technology Sales?
Tech sales, as the name suggests, is the sale of technology—whether that be software, hardware, or services—to organizations of all sizes, from mom and pop businesses to multinational corporations. Almost every company that produces technology has a sales team, who solicit potential customers and convince them to purchase their tools and services. If your employer uses a specific technology—whether it be hardware like Android devices and Apple laptops, or software like Slack, SAP Concur, or Dropbox—a technology salesperson likely sold that software to your organization.
What Do Tech Sales Representatives Do?
Being a tech sales representative entails more than just demonstrating a company’s products and meeting sales quotas. Tech sales often involves a multi-step process, which includes lead generation, analyzing and understanding the needs of prospective clients, identifying an organization’s internal structure, knowing how to present technical products as a solution to an organization’s existing problems, and continuing to support an organization once they become a client. In other words, technology salespeople are advocates for both their company’s software and the clients who use those products and services.
Tech Sales Job Description
This description for an Enterprise Sales Associate role at the communications and technology company Zoom is typical for a tech sales job listings.
Here is how these bullet points translate into responsibilities:
Lead your own sales opportunities. This means being proactive and creative in identifying potential clients, researching an organization’s best contacts, and developing effective ways to approach and pitch prospective clients.
Run sales cycle. Whether your job requires you to focus on outbound lead generation or servicing existing customers, all tech salespersons should be familiar with the entire sales pipeline.
Partner with account executives, BDRs, and product specialists. Tech sales representatives have a highly collaborative job, so if you want to work in tech sales, you should be prepared to work with other members of a sales team to set targets, build partnerships, and develop strategies on how to manage different markets.
Build business relationships. As the job title suggests, tech sales representatives need to increase their organization’s sales. This means that they are responsible for building and maintaining strong business relationships that will lead to new sales.
Manage territory partnerships and work with support teams. Tech sales reps need to be strong communicators, with good interpersonal skills and be well organized so that they can work with their broader sales team to both secure potential clients and service existing ones.
Travel for meetings. While the pandemic may have affected how often sales reps travel to meet in person with current and prospective clients, one thing hasn’t changed—meetings remain an important part of the sales profession, even if they’re virtual. A tech salesperson can expect to demonstrate tech products to potential clients, explain the value proposition of their organization, and field questions about both the product and the competition.
Required Tech Sales Skills
While a college degree isn’t required for a career in tech sales, certain technical skills and soft skills—many of which can be learned on the job or through comprehensive bootcamps—are needed in order to be a successful tech sales representative.
Hiring managers typically look for candidates who have strong interpersonal skills, a sales background, a history of collaboration, and who can learn and use sales tools such as CRMs, forecasting technologies, databases, and business intelligence software. In other words, a tech sales representative needs to be able to use their company’s tools and technologies to help generate and manage leads. When it comes to soft skills, a tech sales representative needs to have the curiosity and drive to identify and develop prospective clients.
Average Tech Sales Representative Salary
The average salary for a tech sales representative will vary, depending on the specific role, years of experience, level of education, industry, location, and organization. Many sales reps also earn commissions on top of their base pay, which can substantially boost their yearly salary.
Entry-level tech sales representatives have an average base salary of around $48,000 a year, with commissions bringing the average compensation to around $75,000, according to LucidChart.
Mid-level tech sales representatives have an average base salary of around $62,000 a year, with commissions bringing their total average compensation to around $126,000.
In more competitive markets like San Francisco and New York City, mid-level tech sales reps can make around $116,000 in base salary, according to Glassdoor, with commissions potentially doubling that.
Senior-level tech sales professionals have an average base salary of around $95,000, with commissions and bonuses bumping their total average compensation above $150,000.
In more competitive markets like San Francisco and New York City, senior-level tech sales reps can make around $126,000 in base salary, according to Glassdoor, with commissions potentially doubling that.
Job Roles in Tech Sales
Although all tech sales representatives should be familiar with their company’s full sales pipeline, not every salesperson is responsible for every step of the sales process. Below are some of the key tech sales positions and their respective duties.
Business Development Representative
Business development representatives, or BDRs, are often the first point of contact between their organization and potential clients. In addition to researching prospective leads and identifying a potential client’s best contacts, a large part of the job entails cold calls, networking, and nurturing leads so that clients can be moved along the sales process.
Account executives are responsible for closing deals with new customers and managing existing relationships with clients. With new customers, an account executive needs to have in-depth knowledge of their product, perform product demonstrations, have intimate knowledge of the prospective client’s needs, and be able to compare their organization’s software and services to the competition. With existing clients, account executives foster strong relationships to ensure that they remain loyal by checking in with customers after they have purchased software, answering questions, and letting customers know about new products and services.
Customer Success Manager
Further along in the sales process, customer success managers help existing clients troubleshoot their needs, upsell them on new products and services, and ensure that customers are happy with the software and services they’re purchased. CSMs are a source of guidance and support for customers throughout the lifecycle of the relationship.
Pros of Working in Tech Sales
In addition to competitive pay and lucrative commissions, there are many positive aspects of working in tech sales:
Opportunities for growth. With so many different roles on a sales team including business development positions, account executives, sales leads, team managers, and sales executives—there’s plenty of room for movement, which means ample opportunities to advance a tech sales career.
Building long-term relationships. Tech sales representatives build long-term relationships with an array of clients, which can be incredibly rewarding. These relationships can also lead to a larger professional network, which in turn can lead to even more opportunities.
Getting close to the industry action. Tech sales representatives are some of the first to sample the latest technologies and hear about new directions for the tech industry.
Solving problems. Many tech sales reps gain a sense of satisfaction from selling products and services they believe in and helping clients solve actual business problems with their products and services.
Cons of Working in Tech Sales
Although an exciting profession, a career in tech sales isn’t for everyone. Below are some of the downsides of working in tech sales.
High pressure. With sales quotas, tough competition, and potentially indecisive customers, tech sales representatives can find themselves in stressful situations. Although some people thrive with sales goals and targets, a sales career can be too intense for some.
Lots to learn. Tech sales representatives have to know the ins and outs of the tech products they sell. This can be challenging, especially when the industry is constantly evolving, new features and updates are frequently launching, and competitors are releasing their own products at a rapid clip.
Tough crowd. Even if a tech sales representative identifies all the right leads, demonstrates a thorough understanding of their prospective customers’ problems, and nails their pitch presentation, it doesn’t guarantee a conversion. Prospective clients can be finicky and existing clients can be demanding. So unless you have the interpersonal skills to manage client relationships, you might find a career in tech sales to be challenging.
Tech Sales FAQ
Still have questions about a career in tech sales? We answer some of the frequently asked questions about tech sales jobs below.
What Is a Tech Sales Job Like?
Tech sales is a highly social profession that requires equal parts technical knowledge and social skills. On any given day, a tech sales rep might send cold emails, cold-call prospective clients, research potential leads, travel for meetings, or support existing clients to ensure that they get the most out of their tools and services.
How Much Does a Tech Sales Representative Make? Can You Make a Lot of Money in Tech Sales?
Depending on years of experience, market, and organization type, technology salespeople can earn an average salary that ranges from $40,000-114,000, before commissions and bonuses. Prehired reports that tech sales is one of the fastest career paths to a six-figure salary.
Is It Hard To Get Into Tech Sales?
Tech sales has a low barrier to entry because, in addition to many junior positions being available, organizations are increasingly open to training new sales reps on the job. Comprehensive online courses, a tech sales bootcamp, or a tech sales training program, such as Springboard’s Tech Sales Career Track, also offer a mentor-supported pathway into a tech sales career. Here, students learn the technical knowledge needed for pipeline development and lead qualification while also getting opportunities to roleplay and perform mock presentations.
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