Sales engineers are sales professionals that have engineering skills that are technology specific. For example, a solar technology sales engineer will often know how solar systems work and how they are designed. As well, the solar sales engineer will also know about the technical features and benefits of different solar systems.
Sales engineers most often work for technology companies. Electronics, biotechnology, renewable energy, machinery and equipment companies all have sales engineers on staff. In these companies you will find system sales engineers, component sales engineers, and product sales engineers. Sales engineers may be responsible for several product lines or just one or two products in a line.
Sales engineers give technical sales presentations, answer technical questions from potential clients, provide technical and sales information to marketing, attend trade show conferences and analyze and compare product technical features. Sales engineers must often do a considerable amount of traveling. Sales engineers also meet via video teleconferencing. Sales engineers must find sales leads or evaluate the best sales leads from a list.
A sales engineer has strong technical communication and persuasion skills. Sales engineers often use these skills to establish and foster long-term customer relationships. A sales engineer must also be able to communicate technical product development needs to marketing and engineering staff. Additionally, a sales engineer must also be able to solve customer’s technical problems quickly. If a customer reports a technical problem to a sales engineer, the sales engineer must often be able to resolve the problem alone, or know who in the company can help resolve the problem.
Sales engineers often have an engineering or science degree. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, they often will have a few years as a practicing engineer. Sales engineers must also keep current on new technology advances, new products and business trends. With this knowledge, sales engineers can avoid representing product lines that are obsolete and difficult to sell.
Sales engineers often have a base salary and a commissioned salary. They will often receive compensation for travel and entertainment expenses. The salary level will often depend on the product and territory coverage. Exact levels of compensations vary considerably. According to the United States Department of Labor, the majority of sales engineers can expect to earn between $49,640 and $136,770 a year. Ten percent of sales engineers make above $136,770. The Department of Labor also points out that sales engineers in the computer systems design industry have a median annual wage of $95,580 compared to $83,100 for all sales engineers.
2016 Salary Information for Sales Engineers
Sales engineers earned a median annual salary of $100,000 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, sales engineers earned a 25th percentile salary of $74,400, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $132,080, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 74,900 people were employed in the U.S. as sales engineers.