Tech Sales Career Paths
Sellers often ask me how to break into tech sales. So often, in fact, that I already wrote about it. That article includes a lot of great info about what tech sales is, the skills you need to be good at it, and how to get started.
However, I haven’t covered the different paths your tech sales career can take once you have a foot in the door.
Consider the following Tech Sales Career Paths 101. Every sales rep’s career journey is unique, of course, but this can give you a good idea of what to expect early in your tech sales career and opportunities you may have in the future.
Early Years in Tech Sales
If I were just getting started in sales today, this is the path I’d want someone to recommend to me:
Break into tech sales as an entry-level SDR.
On-target Earnings: $70k
What to do within the role: Work really hard, and set yourself apart
Timeframe: 9 months
Parlay your first role into an SDR role at an established company.
On-target Earnings: $85k
What to do within the role: Work really hard, and set yourself apart. (Again.)
Timeframe: 1 year
Turn that role into an SMB Account Executive role (ideally the same org)
On-target Earnings: $120k
What to do within the role: Work really hard, and set yourself apart. (Sound familiar?)
Timeframe: 2 years
Use that role to get another AE role with larger deal sizes
On-target Earnings: $175k
What to do within the role: Work really hard, and set yourself apart. (Rinse and repeat.)
Timeframe: 3 years
Options for What to Do Next
Once you’ve been an account executive for several years and worked larger deal sizes, your career path has some options.
Take an Account Manager role with higher base, but lower upside
Some would consider this a bit of a “safer” option
Or you can:
Take a management role with higher base and OTE, but lower upside
This possibly puts you on track for the C-suite. If that’s your goal, expect it to take 5–7 years.
Or you can:
Stay on the AE track
Parlay your previous AE roles into a senior or enterprise AE role with on-target earnings of $300k. Keep working really hard and set yourself apart — and just make bank.
Top performers in these roles are clearing $1 million per year. You can, too.
Follow the Lead of the Best Tech Sales Reps
Every one of these decision points and transitions requires one constant from you:
Work hard. Set yourself apart.
How do you do that?
- Do what’s required.
- Do things that you don’t really feel like doing today.
- Do those things again tomorrow.
- Do more of them next week and next month.
- Make a few extra calls.
- Send that follow-up this evening instead of waiting until tomorrow.
- Check in with deals you signed a few months back.
- Don’t complain that “1.5 years is too long to stick it out”
A path to $1 million is in front of you and any other sales rep who chooses to take it. But so is the path to 7 different companies over the next 10 years, never getting to your OTE.
Some of it is out of your control. But a lot of it isn’t.