Sales Engineering is still an undiscovered and misunderstood profession. Even though there are 75,000 Sales Engineers in the US alone (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016), there is still a huge gap in the awareness of what SEs (Sales Engineers) actually do. Unless you work with an SE or know someone who is an SE, you likely have no clue why one decides to join the ranks of Sales Engineering. Well, I am here to share all the perks and rewards I have experienced being a sales engineer for the last 12 years of my career.
For those who are not working in sales but have a technical mindset and a passion for solving problems, I hope this article inspires you to explore becoming an SE.
In no particular order, my top 10 reasons why one should consider Sales Engineering as a career choice:
Visibility: Sales Engineers can have the highest visibility of any individual contributor role across the company, as they play a critical role in winning the largest, often most complex and most strategic customers. SEs are well known and respected amongst sales, services, product, and marketing teams.
Customer Excellence: Sales Engineering is at the forefront of helping a prospect understand and decide to become a customer. The relationship and confidence in the company's solution start with Sales Engineering.
Passion: Sales Engineers are the most passionate people you'd find in a company. Why? Because they believe in their product and the value it brings to their prospects. They love talking, presenting and solving complex problems.
Never a dull moment: As part of the Sales culture, Sales Engineering is also go-go-go. Your days and weeks are never the same. Every prospect is unique and so are their requirements, objections, and decision criteria. If you expect a (boring) steady and consistent daily routine, this job is not for you.
Financially Rewarding: Sales Engineers often are not highly leveraged (most commonly only 15%-25% of their total compensation is variable) but they are often in the top earner's category. Depending on the industry, skills, and experience, SE salaries can range between $45k to $250k/year as well as an upside for overachievement.
Travel Perks: Most SE roles require travel. The amount of travel depends on the company, industry, and region you live in. Travel requirements may vary from 10% - 60%. Not many other roles offer such a balance of in-the-office and client-facing activities. Usually, the travel is shorter and frequent (compared to M-Th in business consulting)
Autonomy: Sales Engineers often have a good amount of autonomy in managing their workload and schedules. SEs often live in the territories they support and also have the flexibility to work-from-home as needed.
Networking: SE role can quickly and dramatically boost your network and professional net-worth. You will often be presenting and interactive with the C-level executives in your industry. Building such relationships can instantly make you a valuable asset in that industry.
Continued Education: There is no end to learning in Sales Engineering. You are accountable to stay on top of your product, your competition, and your industry. Every meeting and presentation is a learning opportunity. You are consistently challenged - which is one of the most common reasons why SEs continue to stay in the profession.
Career Growth: There are many roads that lead from Sales Engineering. An SE can easily transition to Product Management, Account Management, Project Management, Product Marketing, Business Development, and Sales. Even with all these possibilities, you'd find that many SEs stay in their career because of all the above.
I encourage SEs reading this article to please share their own reasons for becoming an SE in the comments.
If you are now curious to learn more about Sales Engineering, I have started a list of great articles here: https://sebazaar.com/resources/