What is it Like to Work in Tech Sales? A Peek into the World of Sales in the Tech Industry
Working in tech sales can be an exciting and lucrative career path for those who enjoy working with people and technology. As a tech sales professional, you will be responsible for connecting customers with technology solutions that can help solve their problems. This can range from selling software, hardware, or IT services to clients across various industries.
One of the most appealing aspects of working in tech sales is the potential for high earnings. Sales professionals often receive a base salary plus commission, which can add up to a significant income. Additionally, working in tech sales can provide opportunities for career growth and advancement, as you develop relationships with clients and become an expert in your field. For the past 10–20 years, tech sales has also been one of the best ways for people without an advanced degree to make a lot of money – even over $1 million per year for some.
However, working in tech sales can also come with its challenges. Sales can be a highly competitive field, and it can take time and effort to build a strong network of clients and earn their trust. Additionally, keeping up with the latest trends and developments in technology can be a constant challenge, as the industry is constantly evolving. Despite these challenges, many people find that working in tech sales is a rewarding and satisfying career choice.
Overview of Tech Sales
Tech sales involves selling technology products, such as software, hardware, or IT services, to businesses and individuals. It’s a fast-paced and dynamic field that requires a combination of technical knowledge, sales skills, and customer service abilities.
Roles and Responsibilities
In tech sales, there are various roles and responsibilities depending on the company and the product being sold. Some common positions include sales representatives, account executives (AE), account managers, business development representatives (BDR), sales development representatives (SDR), and sales engineers.
Sales representatives are responsible for reaching out to potential customers, presenting the product, and closing deals. BDRs, SDRs and AEs all fall under the umbrella of sales representatives. Account managers, on the other hand, focus on building and maintaining relationships with existing customers. BDRs and SDRs identify new business opportunities and work on expanding the company’s customer base. Sales engineers provide technical support and expertise to customers during the sales process.
Regardless of the specific role, tech sales professionals need to have strong communication skills, as they will be interacting with customers on a regular basis. They should also have a good understanding of the product they are selling and be able to explain its features and benefits to potential customers. Additionally, they need to be able to work well under pressure and be able to meet sales targets.
The tech sales industry is constantly evolving, with new products and services being introduced on a regular basis. Some of the top companies in the tech sales industry include Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Salesforce. In addition to these large companies, there are also many smaller startups and niche players in the industry. Companies like MaintainX, Samsara, Motive, and Supermetrics are great examples that you may not be familiar with.
And despite having a rocky year in 2023, the tech industry is expected to continue growing in 2024.
Overall, working in tech sales can be a rewarding and challenging career path. It requires a unique combination of technical knowledge, sales skills, and customer service abilities. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in tech sales, there are many opportunities available in the industry, from large corporations to small startups.
Daily Life in Tech Sales
Working in tech sales can be exciting and challenging. Your daily routine can vary depending on your role, company, and industry. However, there are some typical day-to-day activities, sales cycle and customer interaction, and team dynamics that are common across most tech sales jobs.
Typical Day-to-Day Activities
As a tech sales professional, your day-to-day activities can include a variety of tasks. You may spend time researching and prospecting new clients, making cold calls, sending emails, and attending meetings. You may also be responsible for creating and delivering presentations, negotiating contracts, and closing deals.
In addition to these activities, you may also need to attend industry events, conferences, and trade shows to network and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. You may also need to collaborate with other departments such as marketing, customer success, and product development to ensure that your clients are receiving the best possible service.
Working Location — In the Office or Working from Home?
One of the key considerations for daily routine is work location.
Prior to COVID, most tech sales roles were in an office, but since COVID more of these roles have moved to either a hybrid setup (some days in the office, other days at home), or all remote.
Not surprisingly, a majority of sales reps prefer the option of working from home,- but many companies would really prefer to have their sales team in the office. This is especially true for more junior roles. Many senior AE roles have traditionally been remote to enable sales reps to be located close to their accounts.
Sales Cycle and Customer Interaction
The sales cycle length in tech sales can vary from very fast (days or weeks) to very slow (years) — and mostly depends on four factors:
- Price: Generally the higher the price, the more considered the purchase, and the longer it will take to get a deal done from start to finish. For larger ticket items there is usually a lot more process and consideration. Sometimes the purchase can be made with existing budget. But other times it will need to be budgeted for as a specific line item, which means that the purchase may not be approved until after it has been included in an annual budgeting cycle. By contrast, for smaller sales (under $10K/year), these can often be paid for with existing budget lines that are under the discretion of the buyer and do not require multiple levels of approval.
- Industry: Some industries just move faster than others. Often, tech sellers are selling sales tools to other tech companies,and these deals can move quickly because the company culture is based in building and growing fast. It also helps if the company is funded by venture capital and the top priority is growth. Contrast this with selling into hospital systems, banks, or governments. The sales cycles in those industries can be years long — and often have lengthy legal and compliance processes. But the advantage is that once you close a deal with these large buyers it will be difficult for a competitor to displace you. They will often remain loyal customers for a long time.
- Sales model: The way that deals are structured is also a key determinant of sales cycle length. Some tech companies offer a free trial. Deals with a company that has already tried out the product will usually move much faster than those that have not. On the other end of the spectrum is enterprise software that’s highly customized. This type of platform can’t really be trialed since it’s largely custom, so this type of deal will take a much longer time to close.
- Lead Source: This is one of the most important factors — and it is often overlooked. Inbound leads will typically have a much shorter sales cycle than leads that are sourced by the sales rep. The reason is simple: for inbound leads, the prospect already has identified their problem and is seeking a solution. For leads that are internally sourced by a sales rep, on the other hand, there is typically a lengthy process whereby the sales rep has to identify pain points via the discovery process, and then determine whether their solution can solve the prospect’s problem. Great sales reps can earn a lot of money doing this effectively, but the process can take awhile to complete.
Working in tech sales often involves working as part of a team. You may be working with other sales professionals, as well as marketing, customer success, and product development teams. It is important to build strong relationships with your colleagues and collaborate effectively to ensure that your clients are receiving the best possible service.
You may also be responsible for training and mentoring new sales professionals, as well as providing feedback and support to your colleagues. This requires strong leadership and communication skills, as well as a willingness to share your knowledge and experience with others.
Skills and Traits for Success
If you’re considering a career in tech sales, it’s important to know what skills and traits are necessary for success. Here are some of the essential skills and knowledge areas you’ll need to excel in this field.
Essential Sales Skills
First and foremost, you’ll need strong sales skills to succeed in tech sales. This includes the ability to identify potential customers, build relationships with them, and close deals. You should be able to communicate clearly and persuasively, and be comfortable with negotiation and objection handling.
Technical Knowledge and Expertise
In addition to sales skills, you’ll need a solid understanding of the technology you’re selling. This includes knowledge of industry trends, competitor products, and the technical specifications of your own products. You should be able to explain complex technical concepts in simple, easy-to-understand terms, and be comfortable with using and demonstrating the products you’re selling.
Soft Skills and Personality Traits
Finally, it’s important to have the right personality and soft skills to succeed in tech sales. This includes being a good listener, having empathy for your customers’ needs, and being able to adapt to different communication styles. You should also be confident, resilient, and able to handle rejection and failure without getting discouraged.
To summarize, success in tech sales requires a combination of sales skills, technical knowledge, and soft skills. If you’re considering a career in this field, make sure you have the right mix of these skills and traits to excel.
Career Path and Progression
If you’re looking to start a career in tech sales, there are various entry-level positions available. These positions typically include Sales Development Representative (SDR), Business Development Representative (BDR), and Account Executive (AE).. As an SDR or BDR, you’ll be responsible for generating leads and setting appointments for the sales team. As an AE, you’ll be responsible for closing deals with clients.
To start your career in tech sales, you’ll need to have excellent communication skills, be able to work in a fast-paced environment, and be comfortable with technology. Most companies require a bachelor’s degree, but some may accept relevant work experience in lieu of a degree. For successful reps, tech sales is one of the best ways to earn a seven-figure income without an advanced degree.
As you gain experience in tech sales, you’ll have the opportunity to advance to more senior positions such as Sales Manager, Director of Sales, or Vice President of Sales. These positions require a strong track record of sales success, excellent leadership skills, and the ability to manage a team.
At some point in their careers, most successful sales reps will have to decide whether they want to move into a sales management role or remain a sales rep. This is a tough decision as the roles are very different. In fact, if you progress into a VP of Sales or CRO role, you won’t be doing much selling at all.
But the leadership opportunity can be very rewarding for some people. Many people are surprised to learn that at the best sales orgs, the top performing sales rep often earns more than the VP of sales. The tradeoff here is that the VP will typically have a higher base salary, more equity, and will have less variability in their compensation.
Continual Learning and Certifications
To stay competitive in tech sales, you’ll need to continually learn about new technologies and sales techniques. Many companies offer training programs and certifications to help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends. Some popular certifications in tech sales include HubSpot Sales Software Certification, Salesforce Certified Sales Professional, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator Certification.
In summary, a career in tech sales offers a variety of entry-level positions, advancement opportunities, and continual learning and certification opportunities. With the right skills and determination, you can build a successful career in this exciting and fast-paced field.
Challenges and Rewards
Working in tech sales can be a challenging but rewarding career path. One of the most common challenges is dealing with rejection. You will be making a lot of calls, sending a lot of emails, and meeting with a lot of potential clients. Not everyone will be interested in your product or service, and you will hear “no” a lot. It’s important to have a thick skin and not take rejection personally.
Another challenge is staying up-to-date with the latest technology. Technology is constantly evolving, and you need to be able to keep up with the latest trends and advancements in your industry. This can be challenging, but it’s essential if you want to be successful in tech sales.
While there are certainly challenges in tech sales, there are also many potential rewards. One of the biggest rewards is the potential for high earnings. According to the RepVue salary calculator, the typical On-target Earnings (OTE) for an AE in tech sales is $180,000.
However, there’s a big caveat: more than 50% of reps are not hitting quota. That means that on average, take home pay is likely close to $100,000 per year on average.However, this can vary widely depending on your experience, the company you work for, and the products or services you are selling.
Another potential reward is the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology. If you’re passionate about technology, working in tech sales can be a great way to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and work with innovative products and services.
For many reps, the ability to work from home is a big advantage.
Finally, there’s the satisfaction that comes from helping clients solve their problems. In tech sales, you’re not just selling products or services — you’re helping people find solutions to their business challenges. This can be incredibly rewarding, and it’s one of the reasons many people choose to pursue a career in tech sales.
Overall, working in tech sales can be a challenging but rewarding career path. If you’re willing to put in the work and stay up-to-date with the latest technology, you can be successful in this field and enjoy the many potential rewards it has to offer.