Networking for Salespeople: How to Make a Good First Impression

Whether you’re attending a career fair, interviewing for a job, or networking with other salespeople and professionals online, your first impression is extremely important. Portraying yourself in a way that emulates you, your skills, and your passion for the field you intend to pursue is necessary for career growth and individual development. To make a positive impact on business professionals and future employers, it’s vital that you come well-prepared. If you’re unsure of where to start, follow these tricks and tips to ensure you make a good first impression.

Fine-Tune Your Résumé

As a salesperson, it’s your job to sell yourself. To do that, you should first begin by fine-tuning your résumé. No matter how many experiences you do or don’t have, all the jobs you apply for and the professionals within these fields will require a certain set of qualifications and expectations from you. Since it only takes recruiters about 6 seconds on average to review a person’s résumé, it’s essential that you take the time to design a well-formatted, detailed résumé before connecting with a person or company. If done correctly, your résumé will emphasize both the knowledge you’ve gained from your previous experiences, as well as act as a supporting resource for you during interviews, business meetings, and other appearances.

Tips to construct a one-of-a-kind résumé:

  • Make sure your résumé is only one page – Despite all of the practice you may have had in your field, you should normally aim to keep your résumé to just one page in length. Given the small amount of time it typically takes recruiters to examine your résumé, focus on outlining the experiences most relevant to the job or industry.
  • Use a résumé template – Try downloading different résumé templates that customize your past work into sections like education, certifications, related experiences, volunteer work, and more. This will help you fit everything you’d like to include on your résumé without having to spend extra time on the nitty-gritty formatting details.
  • Use bullet points – Bullet points are an effective way to highlight the important information you’d like to outline in relation to your résumé’s subsections. A general rule of thumb is to use 3-5 bullet points for each experience listed on your résumé. Unless the category refers to more generic subsections such as your education, skills, or certifications, try to expand on the role you played in each area. 
  • Bullet point structure – To guarantee your bullet points are elaborate and thorough, follow the bullet point structure: bullet point = action verb + what you did + additional descriptive information/results. For example, think back to your previous responsibilities and involvement at a former company, club, or organization. If you were a cashier at your last job, interacting with customers was probably a major part of your role. So how do you explain that in bullet point structure? 
  1. Action verb: Interacted
  1. What you did: with 20-40 customers on a day-to-day basis
  1. Additional information/results: in order to optimize work productivity and sustain company relationships.

Now put it all together – Interacted with 20-40 customers on a day-to-day basis in order to optimize work productivity and sustain company relationships. The concise detail will show how your previous work is applicable to your future career as a salesperson. 

2.  Create a LinkedIn Account

Living in the ever-changing era of technology offers many advantages to first impressions. By establishing various social media accounts, you’re able to develop an online persona, allowing people to see what you want them to see. That’s why when it comes to career growth and personal advancement, you’ll want to develop your digital footprint by creating a LinkedIn account. 

LinkedIn is a social media platform designed explicitly for the professional community. In particular, it allows users to develop their personal brand through the creation of their online profile, explore job openings, and connect both socially and professionally with other LinkedIn users. 

Here’s how to create an adequate LinkedIn account:

  • Take a professional-looking profile picture – Unlike most media channels, LinkedIn is all about showing off your polished skills. With the digital world upon us, recruiters and employees use this space to get a sense of your credibility and how you imitate yourself online. Salespeople specifically will be especially wary of how you visually represent yourself. That said, your profile picture should be nothing like your online dating profile

To capture the best picture, there are a few things to reflect on before uploading:

  1. The photo should be a headshot – Because your LinkedIn avatar will appear smaller compared to the rest of the content featured on your profile, take a clear headshot so viewers can see who exactly they’re looking at. Additionally, to accentuate your features and hide others, keep in mind the lighting of the photo. 
  1. Style your hair – The healthier your hair looks, the more confident and conscientious you’ll appear to others. To avoid appearing disheveled, keep your hair clean, tamed, and out of your face. If you’re suffering from medical conditions relating to hair loss, try solutions like shampoos that promote hair regrowth for women, or a treatment that slows balding in men.
  1. Avoid selfies – LinkedIn pictures should require effort. Uploading a silly selfie or a picture of you at the beach illustrates that you’re not serious about your image or pursuing a career in sales.
  • Structure your LinkedIn profile the same as your résumé – A great way to prove your credibility to recruiters and employees is by reiterating the information mentioned in your résumé and sharing that on your online profile. Fortunately, LinkedIn offers suggested sections for you to fill out in accordance with your interests, making it easier to navigate each area included in your profile. This gives you the chance to expand on the areas you left out in your résumé and be more personable about your experiences.
  • Get connected – Another way to show your validity is to get acquainted with other LinkedIn users. Regardless if they are salespeople, your friends, family, old teachers, or past employees, the more connections, the better. Professional relations online help to expand your career opportunities and contacts across the globe. Just before connecting, however, double-check that you know the user reaching out by studying their profile and your mutually shared connections. 

3. Be Mindful of Your Physical Appearance

Studies show that the majority of first impressions are based on an individual’s physical appearance. With that in mind, it’s crucial you are mindful of your looks and nonverbal forms of communication. 

  • Dress for the occasion – Finding the appropriate outfit for the occasion can be tricky because you want to find a combination that fits your personality, feels comfortable to wear, and suits the sales industry you’re in or looking to be a part of. Whatever the circumstances, your goal as a salesperson should remain the same — always dress to impress

For best practice, consider the following before selecting an outfit: 

  1. Personal brand vs. industry expectations – When choosing what to wear, think back to your personal brand. How does it align with your industry expectations? How can you incorporate who you are in your clothes? Based on your answers, your professional style may vary for different events.
  1. The type of networking event – Fashion decisions may also alter depending on the type of networking event you go to. Happy hour meetups, for example, are more likely to have a casual “dress code” compared to larger, more structured events such as a corporate conference. 
  1. The people attending the event – Your outfit expectations will likely change in accordance to the people who are also attending. Although you should constantly strive to look your best, it’s unrealistic for you to dress-to-the-nines when the salespeople around you are colleagues and other familiar faces. In these cases, you have the ability to adjust your style to a more laid-back, yet still professional look. 
  • Nonverbal forms of communication – Communication is not just expressed verbally. Every day, we convey our thoughts and feelings through our body language and other nonverbal forms of communication. Oftentimes, though, our communication can be perceived the wrong way by others.

To keep your nonverbals in-check, pay attention to your smile and your level of eye contact.

  1. Smile – Preserve your pearly whites! A person’s smile is one of the first things people look at and is recognized as one of the most memorable features. Healthier-looking, clean teeth can make you appear more successful to others, according to research. Be sure to brush your teeth and floss before meeting in-person with professionals, other salespeople, and clients.
  1. Eye contact – With anyone you talk with, you’ll want to make sure you’re maintaining eye contact with them because it communicates warmth and honesty, as well as your level of interest. Just be sure not to gaze off at the person for too long — only about three seconds at a time.

4. Keep Track of Your Network and Stay in Touch

At the end of the day, networking for salespeople is all about building relationships with those who are willing to share their professional knowledge with you. Whether it’s a connection made online or in-person, the people you meet and the exchanges you have can have a direct impact on your career in sales. For this reason, you must strive to keep track of your network and remain in touch with those you’ve had the privilege of communicating with and learning from. In doing so, you’ll be able to turn that first impression into a lasting impression.

  • Keeping track of your network – Record the names of those you’ve networked, the company they’re associated with, and their phone number or email. Store this information either electronically or on paper and keep it in a safe place. Another way to manage your networks is by holding on to business cards and paying close attention to whom you give your own card too.
  • Stay in touch – The purpose of keeping track of your networks is not for you to reach out to professionals when you’re in a pinch with your job or need something in particular. Instead, this information is intended for you to continue to develop and strengthen your interpersonal relations with these salespeople. A simple email to check-in and say hello or a note to say thank you can really go a long way.

Conclusion

The best first impressions are the ones that demonstrate your positive traits and individuality. Doing these simple things when you network with people can support your ability to make a positive influence as a salesperson and further your career growth over time.  

Why Inside Salespeople Should Be Aware Of Blue Light

According to a recent study, inside salespeople spend about 62% of their day in sales technology and 33% of their time emailing for sales-related purposes. If you’re in sales, that’s 95% of your day spent looking at a computer screen. That doesn’t include the personal time spent scrolling through social media on breaks or after work, watching television at night, and the fact that you may use multiple screens on the job. Did you know that computer screens release blue light wavelengths that can affect your body in a negative way? Computer vision syndrome is the effect you may feel on your body from extended exposure to blue light. 

What is blue light? Blue light is a short, high energy wavelength that is both in the world naturally and artificially. Blue light is released from the sun and helps regulate sleep patterns. When you’re exposed to blue light it signals the body to release cortisone to feel awake and ready to take on your day of work ahead! Then, there’s an absence of blue light when the sun sets and the body starts to produce melatonin to get ready for bed. 

Blue light is given off artificially by computer and other digital screens, too. Artificial blue light tends to be stronger and more intense to the body than the natural form from the sun and since you can be exposed to it all day and all night, it can be damaging to your sleep patterns and overall well-being.

Why can it be damaging? Salespeople spend a lot of time using online tech tools in order to do their job effectively. When you spend 7+ hours a day looking at a computer (and sometimes more than one computer at a time), the effects of blue light can begin to take their toll. Some effects you may feel after just a few hours of working are headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes. If you’ve ever noticed any of these symptoms while at work it may be caused by your screens. Over time, blue light can even cause retinal damage which can contribute to age-related macular degeneration. This is a type of retinal damage that can result in partial or complete vision loss.

How can you help yourself? If you’ve ever noticed any of these symptoms while you’re working, you know it can be painful and annoying. Computer vision syndrome can not only disrupt your workday, but your everyday life as well. So it’s important to try to take preventative measures so you don’t feel the headaches or experience problems with your vision.

Firstly, try to add blue-light-blocking tools into your life. On the eyeglasses market, you can find eyeglasses paired with blue light lenses that filter harmful rays from reaching your retina. With the retinal damage blue light can cause overtime, it’s important to protect yourself. Another tool to try out is f.lux which adjusts the light on your computer screen to be a warmer tone. Glasses and apps like this can help reduce the immediate symptoms caused by blue light. 

There are a few exercises you can start to do to give your eyes a break throughout the day:

  1. 20-20-20: Every twenty minutes, look 20 feet away from where you are, for 20 seconds. This helps your eyes readjust to the natural light in the room you’re in, reducing eyestrain. 
  2. Palming the eyes: Cover your eyes lightly with your palms but keep your eyes open. This gives your eyes a break in a dark environment to reduce the feeling of strain. 
  3. Figure 8’s: Make figure 8’s with your eyes. If you’ve been staring your computer or television, this movement can help tear production so your eyes don’t dry out. 

Finally, your diet can even help reduce the symptoms of blue light strain. Foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin are great for your retinas; they help block blue light and reduce your chances of suffering from age-related macular degeneration. Some foods that boost the amount of lutein and zeaxanthin you take in are kale, spinach, peas, squash, brussels sprouts, corn, and broccoli.

In sales, it’s extremely important to be mindful of the amount of time you’re spending on your computer and the effects that technology can have on the body. It may be impossible to control the use of digital screens at your job, but there are plenty of ways to help prevent the symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Additionally, while you use your computer heavily at work, try to abstain from using your phone or computer excessively in your personal time to avoid getting headaches and dry eyes caused by blue light.

The Progression of SDR to Account Executive

In any sales organization there needs to be at least two things: a funnel of leads that are brought in by Sales Development Reps, and a team of Account Executives to manage new clients once they come on board.

Historically the entire spectrum of the software sales process was handled by a single sales rep, but as time moved on the industry realized the value and efficiency Henry Ford’s idea of specialization of labor. As a result, the responsibilities originally held by that single sales rep were naturally broken up into three main roles: Sales or Business Development Representatives, Account Executives, and Customer Success Managers.

Let’s take a quick dive into each of these roles to help you get a better understanding of what they’re responsible for.


Starting first with the Sales or Business Development Representative, often written as the acronyms SDR or BDR.

Role of an SDR

The SDR is responsible for the very early stages of a sales cycle. Their responsibility is to filter through various conversations and pass the opportunities most ready to make a buying decision on to an Account Executive (AE) so they can contract out the proper terms and close business.

Now depending on the company, its product and go to market (GTM) strategy, there can be two flavors of this role. Some organizations may have both inbound and outbound SDRs while others may have just one of those.

Most organizations I’ve seen or heard about that have both an inbound and outbound SDR team structure often start newly hired reps as inbound reps and promote them to outbound reps after a little time in the role due to the difference in the nature of conversations when speaking with an inbound lead as opposed to reaching out to one cold.

Inbound leads already have a business initiative in place and are actively seeking information from vendors to solve a business challenge or pain. Outbound leads, however, are often unsolicited and therefore have much less patience in dealing with a sales rep unless they can quickly find relevance for their product in the world of the prospect’s business or role. Therefore, a successful outbound SDR will need to have the ability to think quickly on their feet along with a masterful understanding of their company’s product to handle any objections that come their way.

Should someone be highly successful in mastering the responsibilities of proficiently sourcing new business opportunities, they’re commonly presented with the option of moving up into a role either as an Account Executive or Customer Success Manager. This is also highly dependant on the organization and their specific needs to grow and support their product. Take a moment to better understand your organization and its needs if you are at this stage in your career and looking for a promotion before starting that conversation with management.

Role of an AE

As mentioned before, the role of an Account Executive is to engage with prospects who are ready to near a purchasing decision and provide the necessary information and assistance to the evaluation team. From this, they can reach a decision resulting in the account turning into “Closed Won” business for that organization.

Though this may sound simple and straightforward, there are many nuances to this last-mile stretch of the software sales cycle that need careful attention to detail for a successful outcome. Companies hardly ever make a purchase without due diligence. As a result, deals are often competitive, even more so if your company competes in a highly crowded space.

Account Executives need to effectively understand the needs of their prospects to illustrate how their solution is best suited to alleviate those challenges. There are also often proof of concepts (POCs) that need to be taken care of to validate the value of a given product which requires a rep to once again expand their skill sets. Great Account Executives, particularly those dealing with consultative sales cycles, must be prepared to be great project managers as well as salespeople.

And of course, the actual closing of the deal is no small feat. There are multitudes of potential headaches waiting in the weeds of conversation as details around pricing and terms are agreed upon on by both sides.

Once this entire process has been run through its cycle and the company has had the fortunate news of being informed they are the chosen vendor, the account will ultimately be brought to a Customer Success Manager (CSM).

Role of a CSM

The job of a CSM, as their title may suggest, is to ensure the success of the customer with the company’s product or services. A CSM may go by other titles such as Account Manager or something else depending on the organization, but as a whole they are responsible for ensuring the customer is happy with the use and value of the product and maintaining the relationship such that the customer will choose to renew once the original contract’s term has lapsed.

The clear distinction between the AE and CSM roles are that the former is responsible for bringing in new business while the latter is responsible for retaining existing business.

If a company has various product lines or product tiers, which is very often the case with software organizations, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities can also come into play. This essentially refers to the effort of getting customers to buy additional products or upgrade their contract to a higher tier. This responsibility typically falls under the role of either the AE or CSM at the discretion of the company’s leadership team.

Moving from SDR to AE

If you are looking to break into this line of work or are already in the early stages of being in the trenches, this should give you a fair understanding of what to expect as you move forward with your career.

Based on some analysis done by the Rainmakers team, the average duration for an SDR could be expected to be about 1.5 years with an average salary of $50-55K per year. The average salary of an AE or CSM will typically be in the range of $60-80K per year. This however refers primarily to your base salary.

SDRs should normally expect to make additional commissions based on performance against their quota which are commonly measured in meetings set or opportunities qualified. AE’s and CSM’s typically get a percentage of the deals they close. Depending on the deal size at your organization, this payout can vary widely but should definitely outpace your earning potential as an SDR.

Whether you are an SDR looking to move up within the organization or are already an AE, you can always set yourself up for continued success by going the extra mile with tasks, being efficient with time, having a little grit, and by adding your personal touch.

For more knowledge and insights on the software sales industry and tips on how you can get ahead in sales, subscribe to the Rainmakers blog and stay tuned for future posts. You can also start your journey or progress your career by finding a job at https://www.rainmakers.co/




Simple Tips to Get Ahead in Sales

Simple Tips to Get Ahead in Sales

Even if you don’t have experience in sales, there are many traits that can set you above your competition. Put yourself in the shoes of your employer, think about their process for hiring a sales candidate. Remember that the sales team is one of the most important departments within any company. When employers are looking for a new member of the sales team they are not only looking for experience, they are looking for a dedicated responsible individual they can depend on.

In order to best paint the picture of how important the hiring of a sales employee is, here are some facts. In any type of business organization, the process of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training job candidates entails substantial costs in time, money, and effort. A study conducted by CareerBuilder survey approximates the average cost of one bad hire costs companies $15,000. Consider all the things that go into making the wrong choice in the hiring process such as: reduced productivity, lost time to hire and train more deserving candidates, tarnished output quality, and spikes in customer attrition rate.

Now here’s where a lack of experience isn’t such a bad thing. Often times bad hires are simply people who aren’t fit for the job emotionally. Emotionally unfit hires usually have a dramatic effect on the morale of other employees. This can cause a decrease in standards, timeline efficiency, and an overall inability to meet goals. The last thing any employer wants is to have to go through the hiring process all over again after taking a hit in revenue and moral within the company.

Despite the immense costs of bad hires sometimes they still slip through the cracks. Here are some of the reasons why this problem exists in the first place.

  1. Most people don’t appreciate how important sales is to a business. People just wily nily apply for sales positions thinking of it as just a way to get a pay check.
  2. Not everybody is meant to be a salesperson. The industry requires a certain type of individual which we will discuss below.
  3. Sales-related certifications exist but are not taken advantage of by prospective employees or their employers.

People who lack sales experience and want to get started in the industry must do whatever they can to gain an advantage over other experienced candidates. Here are some quick tips on how to achieve that advantage:

1) Show Motivation

You must show a pure and true desire to take the position being offered. Like we talked about above, one of the biggest red flags for any new hire is somebody who’s just looking for a paycheck. This mentality is what can drain and even destroy a business. You must go above and beyond to show that you are ready and willing to take on all of the responsibility that entails keeping a business alive and well.

2) Do Your Homework

Before the interview, learn everything

you can about the company. Keep in mind that the person hiring you has been living and breathing their work for years. If you walk in and already have a firm grasp of everything the company is about, then it will be much easier for the person interviewing you to see you as part of the team. Additionally, it helps to show them how motivated you are for this particular position.

3) Know the Basics

Selling techniques and advanced methodologies can be learned way before the hiring process even begins. You don’t need actual job experience to understand the fundamentals of the sales process. With the advent of the internet, thousands of hours of educational information has been published, much of it for free. Know who the best salespeople of all time were. Know the greatest deals ever made and how they were made. Show your employer that you are a salesperson even though it doesn’t say so on a piece of paper.

Moreover, avoid candidates who can’t seem to listen and those who ask senseless questions. Blacklist anyone who doesn’t ask any question at all. Selling is a conversation and active listening and asking the right questions are key to successful customer engagement.

4) Be Professional

Proofread everything you send to your employer. Make sure you look in the mirror and make yourself look as best as possible. It may seem shallow, but you want to make a great first impression when you finally meet a potential employer face to face. Clean up your social media. A serious employer can easily search your name in Facebook to see if you are a wild and crazy party animal. Any embarrassing posts or inflamed political debates can turn an employer off. Arrive at your interview on time and respond to communications quickly. A punctual diligent person shows motivation and ambition which is exactly what employers are looking for.

Conclusion

All of this may seem like basic common sense but you would be surprised how many people, even experienced salespeople, make these mistakes. Set yourself apart from the pact the best you can by being the most reliable, motivated, and diligent person they have ever experienced.

How To Get a High-Paying Sales Job With Little Experience

Here is another great Quora question I will post the answer to here on our blog to help anyone reading this with a similar dilemma:

Q: How can I get a high-paying job in sales with little to no experience?

A: The best thing you can do in your position is to create the best possible resume you can muster. No matter how great your LinkedIn profile is you are still required to provide a resume, especially when you want to start with a high salary.

Starting a new career in any sector can be daunting. There is a prevailing hiring process which only glances at resumes for about 10 seconds before the reader decides to trash it or move forward. In the employers’ defense, during the hiring process, they are sorting through a minimum of 50 resumes. The goal is to make your resume pop so once the employer lays eyes on it, they are immediately intrigued.

I know this is probably demoralizing to your hope of making a career change, but don’t worry there’s a way to beat the system. Something you will learn about sales is that there are very precise models that once learned usually leads to success. This same concept applies to resume writing.

Here are some of the most important things to include into your resume to make sure you pass the 10 second test:

Make sure your resume stands out. 

Your resume needs to stand out. The first thing that will land your resume in the trash is making silly mistakes. Avoiding grammatical errors seems obvious but you would be surprised how many people forget to proofread their own document. Repeating cliché lines like “I’m a people person” and “My only weakness is that I work too hard” will not impress anyone. Customize your resume for the employer based on what you know the employer is looking for and do everything you can to support your claims with actual provable experience.  

It may seem basic, but these are the three key goals to be aware of when writing your resume:

1) to signal an Intention.

2) to convey Information.

3) to make an Impact.

So create one that is unique, memorable, personalized for each employer, and clear about the value and benefits you offer. You can’t sell yourself by being generic or timid.

Organize your profile into clearly defined sections

The main sections of a standard resume are:

  1.    Contact Information
  2.    Profile Summary
  3.    Relevant Certifications, Licenses, or Awards
  4.    Work Experience (typically arranged in reverse chronological order)
  5.    Education

Before you can add some flare, first you need to nail the basics. The foundation is organizing your document clearly and avoiding the common mistakes listed above. This is where you need to get a little bit creative. Depending on your employer, you can include your personal brand.

Your personal brand, which you probably have developed in the career you are currently in, is something that can shoot you to the top of the list. Any evidence of your work ethic, style, philosophy, or catchy description will make you stand out. Your brand should lead your resume, and everything under it should support your claim.

Your career objective is also a strong signaler to resume readers. If you can design your resume to show that this next position will be the achievement of a career goal for you, then you will display vision and commitment.

Make sure your resume is consistent

Structurally and content-wise, your resume should demonstrate a high degree of consistency. That means section headings and line spacings should be rendered the same way throughout the document and that entire resume conforms to a recognizable and visually appealing format.

The work history, achievements, figures, dates, and other information in your resume must be 100% accurate. There are a lot of people who are willing to lie and exaggerate the experience and achievements. They easily give into temptation to blur some lines to make themselves seem like the perfect person for the job. Unfortunately, sometimes this works. Leaving the employer in the awkward position of going through the hiring process only to find out that the person they hired has no idea what’s going on. Experienced employers are keen to this type of manipulation, even the slightest fib or inadvertent errors will destroy your chances of getting selected.

Go beyond a paper resume

Traditionally we would only have to send a paper document to an employer and that would be enough to clearly demonstrate our eligibility for a potential job. For better or worse, times have changed. If you make it past the first round of resume glances, then a potential employer may check your social media presence.

To prepare for this, the best thing you can do is update all of your professional information. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is clean and matches the tone and style of your resume. Create a digital portfolio that is easy to find when doing a simple search for your name. Any professional videos you have of yourself should be part of your digital portfolio of LinkedIn page if possible.

Employers want to see that you have adapted well to the digital age, don’t disappoint them.

 

Conclusion

The tips provided may seem like common sense but you would be surprised how many resumes go out replete with errors. Creating a resume is like creating a product you are selling to a client. If you want to develop yourself in a sales career, you must first learn how to sell yourself! Good luck Terry!

sales engineer career path

Sales Engineer Career Path: Everything You Need To Know To Be Successful

Wherever the need for technical, business and people skills converge, you’ll likely find a rare breed of talent: the sales engineer.

The rigorous career path sales engineers take may not readily appeal to everyone but is easily among the most lucrative. It certainly takes a lot to be a sales engineer. But for the best of these specialists, the effort is well rewarded.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median wage for sales engineers clocked in at US$98,720 as of May 2017, with professionals in the wholesale electronics, computer systems design, and telecommunication sectors reeling in six-figure salaries. The top 10% of sales engineers across industries earned north of US$160,000.

But even more valuable than their hefty compensation, sales engineers tread a challenging career path that straddles the sweet spot between the human and the technical side of sales. They also get the opportunity to become experts at the diverse skills required to be competent in their craft. They develop bit-level, nut-and-bolt understanding of business solutions and learn the techniques of impactful marketing and customer engagement, enabling them to establish trust and meaningful connections with people and organizations.

Lastly, sales engineers are not constrained by a rigid, single-track career path. They can choose to stay within their domain and provide leadership as senior sales engineers, move up in the organization as part of management, or transition laterally as a valuable resource for other teams such as marketing, product development, customer success, and research.    

What is a sales engineer?

Sales engineers are specialist professionals trained in the precise language of technology, the core aims of businesses, and the fluid behavior of customers. They bring clarity to clients’ technical needs, help fine-tune solutions to squarely address those needs, and assist sales teams in articulating product value on multiple levels.   

Depending on their functional focus, sales engineers either complement reps, account executives and other peers from the sales department during customer engagements; or serve in the field as quota-carrying, commission-earning sellers themselves. In either case, sales engineers are involved in selling sophisticated equipment, software, hardware, industrial, and other technological products and services.  

Sales engineer duties

Many of the tasks sales engineers perform are similar to those assigned to other sales professionals: generate interest in their product, conduct market research, manage customer queries, and close deals. In addition to these tasks, however, sales engineers also—

  • Give technical demos and presentations;
  • Gather customers’ technical requirements;
  • Help tailor complex solutions to fit specific customers’ unique situations; and,
  • Train customers in the installation, use, and optimizations of technology solutions.

Some sales engineers also work with Product Development to evolve existing services or create new ones based on customer feedback and their own experiences in the field.

What skills does a sales engineer need?

To be excellent at what they do, these specialists need to have a deep, extensive knowledge of their products and services, as well as the business acumen, interpersonal skills, and customer empathy required to positively connect solutions and buyers.  

The vast majority of sales engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree in a STEM-related field (science, IT, engineering, mathematics). On the other hand, competent sales engineers who have different academic backgrounds compensate their lack of formal technical education with extensive training and field experience. Not all sales engineers started as technology-related professionals. A few were former sales reps or account executives who just happen to like technology and who were determined to learn, train, and get extensive experience in technical sales.

In any case, sales engineers should be at a continuous learning and re-training mode, given the rate of change and disruption in the digital economy. Sales engineers can’t afford to be caught off guard when the technologies they are selling or the sales techniques they are using suddenly became obsolete or irrelevant in the emerging priorities of business.

How much do sales engineers earn?

Compared to their peers in the sales department who earn a median annual income of US$27,020, sales engineers receive more than three times as much at $98,720. This paycheck is also much higher than the average US salary of US$37,690 for all occupations.   

And that’s just the average. The most competent and experienced sales engineers easily bring home six-figure salaries, with some exceeding US$162,740.

However, Glassdoor reported that avg. base for sales engineers is $101,552 (as of April 2018).

sales engineer salary image

Possible sales engineer career tracks

There is no single route that can define the sales engineer career path. Instead, sales engineers can opt to take any of the following tracks:

  1. Senior sales engineer.
  2. Full sales role.
  3. Lateral transition to a new business unit.
  4. Sales management.
  5. Entrepreneurship.

1) Senior-Level Sales Engineer

Like many other roles, sales engineers often transition from a base rank (e.g., technical sales trainee) to higher ranks characterized by greater responsibilities or degree of specializations (e.g., associate sales engineer, corporate sales engineer, senior corporate sales engineer, team lead, etc.).

Sales engineers who have become subject matter experts provide insight, leadership, and guidance in the sales organization. Veteran sales engineers can handle — and are often given — the responsibilities of team leads and managers. Technologist and investor Robert Schneider wrote that many professionals remain happy and contented sales engineers for decades.   

2) Full Sales Position

Some sales engineers may want to also reap the hefty commissions earned by accomplished sales reps in their sales force. Shifting to a full sales role has its share of perils however. According to John Care of Mastering Technical Sales, the failure rate of sales engineers turned full sales reps hovers around 72.5% within two years. It is possible for sales engineers to still succeed as full-time sellers only if hardcore selling is their true passion.   

3) Lateral Transition to a New Business Unit

It is not uncommon for competent sales engineers to apply their sales and technical skills in other fields such as product development, marketing, post sales (e.g., customer success, technical support), and research. In some cases, it is possible to transition into and join the new unit altogether as a valuable resource with many field secrets to share.  

4) Sales Management

Successful sales professionals are inherently ambitious and their central skills (strategic, communication, marketing, leadership, customer engagement) equip them for bigger and more impactful roles. Sales engineers are no exception. They already possess the required skills to sell an idea — as well as the technical background to articulate just how exactly the idea will solve a customer’s pain point. Because they also have business acumen, veteran sales engineers can aim to eventually serve in the C-suite by delivering exceptional value to their organizations.

5) Entrepreneurship

A well-rounded skill set that covers business, people, and technology is a foundational element for creating successful startups in the digital economy. Veteran sales engineers can use their learnings and experience to create their own solutions and build their own client portfolios. The only challenge is to ensure zero conflict of interest/ breach of contract/intellectual property infringement with your former employer, especially if you are serving the same market or offering similar solutions/products.  

The Job Outlook for Sales Engineers

The official projection for sales engineers remain modest at 7% job growth, representing 5000 new sales engineering jobs to be generated in the U.S. from 2016 to 2026. While this is just about the average job growth for all occupations, the statistic does not highlight the real benefit of taking the career path of a sales engineer. The skills that make sales engineers tick are transferable credentials that will also enable a professional to excel in just about any other field. That’s because the triad skill sets of technology, business, and people happen to be exactly the same ingredients needed to drive success in the job markets of tomorrow.

software sales career paths

Software Sales Career Paths To Consider In 2018

Software Sales Career Paths

Here are the primary software sales career paths to know and understand:

  • SDR to AE
  • SDR to SDR Manager
  • AE to Sales Management

What do the CEO of Oracle, the founder of Sequoia Capital, and Mark Cuban have in common? All started their careers selling technology. Software sales is an excellent way to jump start your career whether or not you plan on working in tech long term.

In this article we’ll go over traditional and nontraditional career paths that begin with software sales. We’ll detail how much money you can expect to make and give you some tips on how to get where you want.

SDR to SDR Manager

Becoming an SDR Manager depends as much on the employee as it does on the company. Oftentimes a company doesn’t need a new SDR manager — if you work for this sort of company you won’t be able to get this position.

At rapidly growing companies there is often need for more SDR managers to supervise ‘groups’ or ‘teams’ of SDR’s within the general SDR organization. If you join a small startup as an early SDR before there is a SDR manager (and you’re reporting to the Head of Sales or CEO), you could evolve into the SDR manager if and when there are enough SDR’s to merit the position.

This is, again, based on how well you perform and how much respect people at the company have for you based on your performance and behavior.

SDR Managers, in the SF Bay Area, typically make between $120,000 and $180,000 annually. This is a position one could hold for life or that could lead to other management and operations roles. That being said it would be hard for an SDR manager to become a Head of Sales if they have no experience closing deals.

SDR to AE

Getting promoted from SDR to AE is very straightforward, and most companies should be able to promote you to this role within a reasonable timeframe. If your priority is to become an AE as fast as possible you should, as mentioned earlier, work for a small or medium sized company that’s growing and that sells to smaller companies. If you don’t mind being patient join a more established company like Oracle, SalesForce or Adobe.

AE’s in the SF Bay Area make anywhere from $80,000 to $500,000 annually. The top 20% of performers at Oracle make between $250,000 and $500,000. Medium sized software companies that service Fortune 1000 companies (NGINX, MuleSoft, LiveRamp) also employ AE’s who earn similar salaries.

Typically people start off as an AE selling to small and medium sized companies. By performing well, you’ll have the chance to sell to large enterprise accounts.

AE to Sales Management

Moving from AE into Sales Management within the SaaS world typically happens one of two ways:

  • Being internally promoted
  • Joining a small startup as the head of sales

In the first scenario, you’re working for a company that is expanding rapidly (doing well) or has some management turnover due to poor performance (struggling). In the initial scenario you’re one of the top performers and you’ve been with the company for a while. The sales team is now being split up by geography or vertical and managers are being appointed for each category. You’re now responsible for a team of AE’s and SDR’s and are officially in ‘sales management’.

In the latter scenario, you’re company isn’t doing so well so your head of sales is fired or leaves. Given that you’re the top performer, perhaps the CEO will make you responsible for the entire team’s success.

Like moving from SDR to SDR Manager or AE, moving into sales management primarily depends on performance (are you good enough to merit a promotion?) and if the company has a need for the new role. That being said it’s much harder to move from sales to sales management that it is moving from pre-sales to sales.

The Starting Point Is Almost Always The SDR Role

Almost all software salespeople start of as Sales Development Representatives (SDR’s).

If you’re unfamiliar with the term or position, SDR’s don’t actually sell software.

Instead, they help expand the pipeline of Account Executives (AE’s) by cold calling and emailing potential clients. The SDR role prepares a new employee to become an actual salesperson in the following ways:

  • SDR’s learn to deal with the pressure of having aggressive sales goals in form of a quota (not for revenue, but for meetings set).
  • SDR’s often have to explain details of the software and its use cases to potential clients in order when a potential client is on the fence about taking a meeting with an AE.
  • SDR’s have the opportunity to join their AE’s calls (or they should at a good company) and watch the AE complete demos and execute the sales process.

Think of being an SDR as being an apprentice. Depending on the type of company you work at you can expect to be an SDR for 6-24 months before becoming an AE.

How Long Do You Have To Be An SDR Before Leveling Up?

We’ve found two primary factors that determine how long you’ll be an SDR before you become an AE:

  • How large are the companies that your company sells to?
    • Enterprise sales are much more complex to execute. If you’re selling to Fortune 1500 companies you’ll likely take more time to be promoted as your managers will want to train you for as long as possible beforehand.
  • How large is the company you work for?
    • Larger companies typically take longer time to promote, as there is less growth than a startup that is doubling in size. Therefore there are less openings for people to move up to.

Consider MuleSoft and Salesforce. Both companies (who are currently hiring like crazy) are quite large and both companies sell to large companies (Salesforce also sells to small companies). If you browse around on LinkedIn for SDR’s and AE’s at these companies, its clear that it often takes nearly two years of being an SDR before becoming an AE. On the other hand if you work for a small startup that sells to small businesses its much more likely that you’ll move up to a sales role within 6-9 months.

How To Get Promoted In Sales

Being an SDR is a grind. The work is monotonous, stressful, and it’s safe to say that you want to get promoted out of this role as quickly as possible.

Here’s how you get promoted:

  • Perform well
    • Meet and exceed your quota every month
    • Do your best to be in the top 20% of your team
  • Behave well
    • Get along with your teammates and managers
    • Come to work ontime and don’t be the first one to leave
    • Be positive about working hard and set a good example

Other Sales Career Paths

Oftentimes sales people move into marketing or customer success roles if they prefer a less ‘intense’ role. We wrote a full breakdown on all the various sales roles you could evolve into as well.

The skills they learned doing sales for a few years (effective communication, problem solving for clients, time management) are very useful for account management. Additionally exposure to people buying software gives salespeople unique insight into ‘what makes people buy’, enabling them to be effective marketers.

Some salespeople succeed at moving beyond the sales floor and into the boardroom. The godfather of Silicon Valley venture capital, founder of Seqoia capital, who’s investments have a market cap of $3 trillion, Don Valentine, started his career as a technology salesman. He wasn’t selling software (this was in the 70’s, to early for that), but selling semi-conductors in that time period is comparable to selling software today.

There’s more examples. As mentioned before Mark Cuban and Mark Hurd (CEO of Oracle) started their careers selling technologies. Dan Fishback, Board member of several silicon valley companies and former CEO of DemandTec (IPO’d in 2008) started his career as a salesman at Unisys.

So there’s no limit to what you can do when starting your career in software sales. We hope this guide has given you a general overview of the various career paths you can take, and what you need to do to get where you want to go.

women in tech sales

Only 25% Of Salespeople In Tech Are Women. It’s Time To Change That In 2018.

Are you a woman who’s interested in forging a career in tech sales?

As you already know, there’s been a lot of emphasis and active conversation around increasing diversity in field of technology.

“Right now, there’s a floodlight shining on women in the workplace, with topics ranging from gender dynamics in meetings to balancing professional and personal lives and career advancement,” – Alexandra Nation in a post for Marketo.

But, pretty often, that floodlight is focused on roles like development and engineering.

However, tech sales is another area that still experiences a pretty wide gender gap. In fact, industry statistics show that only 25% of salespeople in the tech industry are women.

That number becomes even more brutal when you look at sales management—where only 12% of sales leaders are women.

There’s no denying that both sales and technology are still fairly male-dominated fields. So, when you put the two together, it’s unsurprising that women are underrepresented.

But, as the conversation about increasing diversity continues to gain steam, there’s never been a better time for women to explore careers in tech sales.

And, once they wiggle their feet into the door? Well, as the three facts below illustrate, they’re sure to do a top-notch job in those roles.

1) Women Can Change the Perception of Sales

Those oft-repeated stereotypes of what constitutes an effective salesperson typically involve quite a bit of aggression, pushiness, and perhaps even manipulation—qualities that are more frequently associated with men in the workplace.

But, as customers have become increasingly wary of those age-old, slimy sales tactics, women have a real opportunity to shift the way that customers and colleagues alike think about sales.

“The notion that a good salesperson has to be pushy, aggressive, and have a don’t-take-no-for-an-answer mentality not only implicitly excludes many women, but it’s also dated and bad for business, especially in tech sales,” – Jordan Leonard in a post for Lever.

Leonard explains that things like relationship-building, attention to detail, and trust are the qualities that make for an effective salesperson today. And, those qualities are far more inclusive of women.

“If this were the common perception of the modern salesperson, I’m betting more women would think themselves a good fit for sales and re-consider the career path they may have previously ‘leaned out’ of,” Leonard adds.

2) Women Have Strong Emotional Intelligence

There’s no way to say unquestioningly that certain personality traits are only associated with each gender. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule.

Without a doubt, both men and women offer value. Men, for example, have proven to be better at processing negative emotions (like the fallout from failure, which is unfortunately a core piece of a career in sales).

However, studies have shown that women typically do possess more emotional intelligence than men—a capability that can serve them well when it comes to connecting with customers and closing the deal.

This is especially true when it comes to one facet of emotional intelligence: empathy.

“Women tend to be better at emotional empathy than men, in general. This kind of empathy fosters rapport and chemistry,” explains Dan Goleman Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today.

That’s obviously an important skill to be successful in sales—meaning women can bring something different to the table in tech sales careers.

3) Women Tend to Be More Collaborative

Sales is traditionally viewed as a highly competitive career field. And, in many ways, that’s true—everyone is eager to meet their quotas and get new customers to sign on the dotted line.

But, success in tech sales also requires salespeople to be highly collaborative. From IT departments to product development to customer success teams, salespeople can be far more effective when they’re willing to collaborate across the organization.

This is an area where many women excel. As reported by Derek Thompson in an article for The Atlantic, economists Peter J. Kuhn and Marie-Claire Villeval state in their paper titled “Are Women More Attracted to Cooperation Than Men?” that, in short, women are more willing to work with others.

Why? Well, men tend to overestimate their own abilities. They perceive their colleagues as incompetent and are less willing to work with them as a result.

In contrast, women demonstrate less confidence in their own competence, which results in them placing more trust in the people around them—and, thus, being more collaborative than their male counterparts.

Time To Leave Your Mark

Convinced that tech sales is the field you’ve been looking for in order to make your mark and take your career to the next level? We can’t blame you.

So, where should you get started?

Create a profile on Rainmakers to highlight your skills and prove your value, so that interested employers can reach out about having you on their team.

revenue summit happy hour 2018

Rainmakers Brings Salespeople Together At The Revenue Summit Happy Hour!

Rainmakers were the proud hosts of a very special happy hour at The Revenue Summit Conference last week in San Francisco, California.

You can see just how proud we are here…

rainmakers team building photo

What Is The Revenue Summit?

The Revenue Summit is the only conference with a true focus on aligning sales, marketing and customer success through the lens of technology, empowering B2B leaders to accelerate full funnel growth.

This event teaches executives the most innovative and actionable best practices to scale revenue.

The Revenue Summit is a phenomenal destination for c-level enterprise leaders, as well as junior salespeople, sales managers, or demand generation marketers.

If you’re just starting out in sales, or feeling behind the learning curve, The Revenue Summit is a great place to brush up on your sales skills and learn some new things.

Rainmakers taking over the interview booth

Rainmakers taking over the interview booth!

What Companies Were There?

You can check out the full list of speakers, but here were some of our favorite companies & speakers who presented at Revenue Summit.

  • Jaimie Buss – VP of Sales (Americas), Zendesk
  • Ran Xiao – Dir. of Sales & Customer Ops, Zendesk
  • Olivia Nottebohm – Sr. Director, SMB Sales, Google Cloud
  • Laurabeth Harvey – VP of Sales, Intercom
  • Justin Shriber – VP of Marketing, LinkedIn Sales & Marketing Solutions
  • Mike Coscetta – VP of Global Sales, Square
  • Scott Brinker – VP of Platform Ecosystems, HubSpot
  • John Barrows – Leading Sales Trainer for Salesforce, Box, Marketo, LinkedIn

Why Did Rainmakers Decide To Host Happy Hour?

The Revenue Summit was such a phenomenal opportunity for us, and we couldn’t pass it up. Learn why we decided to get involved.

1. To Increase Brand Awareness

We’re still a relatively new brand that’s only been out for a few years, so we wanted to propel our visibility. Sales Hacker is a great company to partner with for that!

rainmakers revenue summit recap 2018

Mike repping the Rainmakers brand!

2. To Meet Our Customers & Prospects, IN-PERSON! 

The most underrated benefit of attending a conference, is being able to get precious face to face time with your customers and target prospects.

rainmakers booth revenue summit 2018

3. To Raffle Off Some Free Dom Perignon!

Who doesn’t love a free bottle of Dom P?

rainmakers happy hour raffle

rainmakers dom perignon rev summit

4. To Relax, Network, And Have Some Fun 

Another awesome benefit of attending conferences is the opportunity to take a load off, sip on your favorite libations, and NOT talk shop for a change.

rainmakers drinks at revenue summit

5. To Give Away Free Rainmakers Swag

Aside from the highly sought after Dom P, we gave away our signature mugs, tee shirts, and more!

rainmakers swag revenue summit 2018 

6. To Enjoy Some “Out of Office” Team Building

Company culture is very important to us, so this was a great opportunity to get out of the office and do a little off-site team building.

company team building revenue summit 2018

Top Sessions & Key Takeaways From Revenue Summit

The Revenue Summit features keynotes from industry-leading sales practitioners to deliver educational and actionable content across two tracks (strategic and tactical).

Here’s a recap from Morgan J Ingram that nicely summarizes the key takeaways for the day!

9 Elements of Highly Effective Sales Conversations — Amit Bendov, CEO, Gong

How To Generate Leads on Auto Pilot — Eric Siu, CEO, Single Grain

Full Funnel Forecasting — Zendesk, Sales Leadership Team

How To Build A Viral Marketing Funnel — Olof Mathe, CEO, Mixmax

How To Prospect Using The Basics — Ralph Barsi

tech sales career software sales job opportunities

Pursuing a Tech Sales Career? If Not, Here’s Why You Should Be

If you’re currently exploring your job options, have you given consideration to a tech sales career?

If not, there are several reasons why you should give some thought to joining the ranks at a software or technology company and using your skills to help them continue to grow and make an impact.

Why? Well, here’s everything you need to know about why a tech sales career is worth considering.

What is Tech Sales Anyway?

In a tech sales position, you’ll be responsible for connecting consumers (which could be individuals or other businesses) with technology that can help them solve a specific problem.

Exactly what type of tech you’re selling—from actual hardware to software or other services—will vary depending on the type of company you work for.

But, regardless of the specifics, in this customer-facing role the important thing to know is that you’re tasked with connecting with and educating potential customers—and ultimately closing the deal.

For some added clarity, you should check out what Ralph Barsi wrote about SDR job descriptions, and what they’re REALLY telling you.

Tech Sales Job Description Example:

Here’s a look at a tech sales job description example. The below is a posting for a Sales Development Representative role with Wrike, a project management software solution:

Image Source

4 Reasons to Consider a Tech Sales Career

We know your next question: Why even start a career in tech sales? Well, there are definitely plenty of benefits that make this a particularly appealing career path. Here are four to consider.

1. The demand is high

Considering that sales is quite literally what keeps every company’s doors open, it makes sense that there’s a lot of security and demand in this career field.

But, as technology continues to become even more prevalent in our day-to-day lives, tech companies in particular are aggressively adding people to their teams who can get their solutions and products in front of a wider audience.

A recent study from ToutApp—which surveyed 300 HR managers at U.S.-based technology companies who had at least 200 employees—found that a whopping 80% of respondents stated that they intend to invest more in the recruitment and hiring of sales talent.

While others may worry about things like automation or online capabilities replacing the need for their jobs, that’s not the case for sales—where human interaction still carries a lot of importance.

In fact, research from the Harvard Business Review found that direct interactions with providers influence B2B purchasing decisions more than anything else.

Image Source

Needless to say, demand for tech sales professionals is high (and will likely stay that way). So, it’s an incredibly secure and lucrative path to pursue.

2. The pay is great

Speaking of lucrative, the salary is another big draw for many tech sales professionals. While the tech industry is known to pay hefty sums to the people who fill the more technical roles, you can earn a great living in sales as well.

Bridge Group’s 2015 SaaS Inside Sales Survey Report shared that the compensation for inside sales roles rose to record highs in 2015.

The company discovered an average base salary of $60,000 with average on-target earnings of $118,000—proving that technical roles aren’t the only ones who earn the big bucks.

Image Source

As this Business Insider roundup demonstrates, numerous sales-related positions make it onto the list of the best-paying non-tech jobs in the industry.

While a paycheck isn’t everything when it comes to your job satisfaction, knowing that a career path in tech sales quite literally pays off makes it something that’s definitely worth considering.

3. The career opportunities are seemingly endless

Nobody wants to reach a limit on their own career, and this is another thing that makes tech sales so appealing: There are seemingly limitless opportunities for growth and advancement.

In fact, many tech leaders got their start in sales—because it’s a great way to gain familiarity with the business and customers, while also making a measurable impact on the success of the organization (you need revenue!).

So, as you gain more experience and continue to close deals and prove your worth, you’ll likely experience rapid progression in your career.

Take a look at LinkedIn’s data as an example. LinkedIn pulled together a list of the most promising jobs of 2017—the ones with the highest median salaries, strong job openings, and year-over-year growth.

Which job appeared third on that list? A sales engineer—proving that pursuing a career in tech sales could mean really bright things for your future.

4. The barrier to entry is low

The tech industry can be intimidating, and can leave many wondering how to get into software sales with no experience.

Fortunately, this is another upside of a career in tech sales: There’s a very low barrier to entry.

“There’s often no formal education and training programs for sales pros; it’s something many people discover as a career by accident,” explains Sharon Florentine in an article for CIO.

This means these roles are challenging for recruiters to hire for—but, it also means that people with diverse backgrounds and experiences can really make a name for themselves in sales positions.

There’s no strict mold you need to fit into or overly formal criteria you need to meet in order to find success as as tech sales professional.

Ready to Get Started?

Are you convinced that a tech sales career is the right move for you? We can’t blame you.

Now for the final question: How do you get started? Create a profile on Rainmakers, a career marketplace designed specifically for salespeople.

Use your profile to highlight your skills, share your history, and prove your value to inspire interested employers to contact you.

You’ll be well on your way to a tech sales career in no time!