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How to Become a Sales Engineer

January 3, 2023

Do you like helping others find solutions to their problems? Do you enjoy deep dives into how things work? Have you occasionally fallen down a research rabbit hole? 

If your answers to the above questions are yes, you might be a good fit for the role of sales engineer.

What is a sales engineer? 

A sales engineer (SE) is a role known by many names, including Solutions Consultant (SC), Presales Representative, Technical Sales Representative, and Solutions Architect.

The SE is a big part of a sales organization. Their responsibility is presales, a group of technical sales roles that evolved to serve the B2B and IT markets, thanks to those industries’ complex sales cycles and complicated offerings. 

So what does an SE do? 

While “presales” suggests that SEs handle only the things that come before the sale — like research and qualification, their role is more complex than that. They offer key support to the sales team and the buyers throughout the sales process. 

The SE is responsible for: 

  • Researching leads
  • Qualifying prospects
  • Understanding the needs of the buyer
  • Writing proposals
  • Creating demos
  • Answering product questions
  • Bridging the divide between product team and customer
  • Renewing subscriptions

They may also be responsible for other duties, such as helping to develop products and answer questions from account executives. 

How can you become a sales engineer?

If you want to become a sales engineer, there’s good news. The role is growing fast these days, The  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) finds that the number of SE roles is projected to grow by 6% in the next decade, which is unsurprising, considering the growing complexity of technological tools on the market. 

You do need to have some technical know-how to be an SE, however. Sales engineers should have a four-year degree in computer science, engineering, or a related field. This isn’t set in stone; sales reps with a lot of experience in a technical field can also be considered for technical sales roles. As long as you understand the sales process and the technology, you have the building blocks for a career as an SE. 

What does a sales engineer make? 

According to the BLS, the median salary for a sales engineer is $103,710 per year, although salaries range between $62,300, and $182,850, depending on experience, location, and the company for which an SE works.

In general, most companies offer a combination of base salary and commissions or bonuses to their SEs, as they do for other members of a sales team. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for an SE is $78,961 and the average bonus or commission rate is $37,944. 

However, some sales engineers who work for independent sales companies earn commissions only.

What challenges are faced by sales engineers? 

SEs do a lot, so they can find themselves overwhelmed by all the tasks they’re charged with, including bids, demos, and proposals as well as other client-facing documents like SOWs, DDQs, and RFIs. 

By investing in solutions that help organize sales knowledge, you can take some of the burden off your SEs. Automated tools in particular can save and organize institutional knowledge so that your presales team can access the freshest content when they need it. 

Ombud, for example. stores sales content in a central library, where your sales knowledge is  organized and searchable. When it’s time to create a sales document, an SE can pull together a draft quickly, or the platform can take the first pass at a draft for them. Once the draft is assembled, the SE can iterate on it, creating the strongest possible document for that client. 

Interested in learning more? Request a demo of Ombud’s Presales Operating System today. 

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