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Whether you’re thinking about switching things up or just starting out in your career, tech sales can certainly be a great career path. Not only are there plenty of growing companies out there looking for talented sales professionals, anyone with a tech background—particularly sales engineers and presales professionals at the top of their game—stands to make a lot of money offering innovative products to consumers and businesses hungry for all things tech.  

A seasoned tech sales professional can pull in well over $100,000 a year in salary and commissions, making tech sales a very lucrative career. 

There are plenty of opportunities for people eager to combine an interest in tech with their genuine desire to help people and companies find the right solutions to their technology problems. 

But before you start blanketing every tech company out there with your resume, it’s a good idea to develop a thorough understanding of how to become a competitive candidate for tech sales positions. This article offers the foundation you will need to pursue a successful tech sales career. It covers what tech sales is, why jobs in tech sales are desirable to so many people, and some specific steps on how to get into tech sales. 

What is tech sales? 

Generally speaking, technology salespeople are in the business of connecting people or organizations with the technology they need to solve a problem or improve a situation. Tech sales jobs can lean toward hardware, software or IT services. 

  • Hardware sales. The job of hardware tech salespeople is to match customers with the correct physical products—such as desktop computers, laptops, phones and accessories—they need to keep their personal or business software running. If you’re great with demonstrating how computers and other machines work and like showing off the latest designs and functions of the hottest gadgets, hardware sales might be up your alley. 
  • Software sales. There are a number of types of software solutions that tech sales reps sell to customers, including SaaS products that are provided on a subscription basis and run through the vendor’s servers, and owned programs that are licensed or sold to a customer and installed permanently on their hardware. Sales reps who understand how systems work and enjoy showing customers how to leverage technology will likely enjoy a career in software sales. 
  • IT service sales. Tech sales reps also sell consulting services that can enhance or substitute for a company’s in-house information tech staff or provide troubleshooting to individual users. IT service sales reps usually sell these types of services as a package, where the customer signs a long-term contract for access to the IT services they need. IT is all about helping people get what they want, need and expect from their hardware and software. If setting people up with the support they need sounds fulfilling, IT service sales could be your calling. 

While no two tech sales jobs are exactly the same, the overarching goal of a tech sales professional is to connect a potential user with a product that meets their needs and close the sale. To accomplish this, tech sales reps need to know the products and services they are selling inside and out. Depending on the nature of the products being sold, tech sales professionals must become proficient at the following: 

  • Understanding what products the customer needs and the ability to offer what is appropriate to each customer, extolling the benefits of the product and how it specifically addresses the customer’s pain points.
  • Putting together technology packages suitable for the particular client’s current and future needs.
  • Closing sales and executing contracts and invoices with great attention to detail and precision in language setting forth all of the relevant terms of sale.
  • Making effective use of sales-supporting tools such as CRM software.
  • Staying organized, efficient and focused on managing several prospects concurrently in different stages of the organization’s sales funnel.
  • Leveraging technology solutions to connect with and follow up with prospects and customers.

Why should you work in tech sales?  

If you’ve been considering getting into tech sales, this is an excellent time to explore opportunities. While other sales occupations are declining, opportunities to embark on a technology sales career are expected to expand over the next decade or so. And with the median income of a sales engineer exceeding $103,000 a year—almost double the income of advertising sales reps and nearly 4x that of retail salespeople—it’s easy to see that pursuing a tech sales opportunity is a better choice than other sales jobs for meeting both short- and long-term career goals. 

Besides the ability to make a good income, there are other reasons you might find tech sales attractive:

  • You’ll be among like-minded people. Often, individuals seeking tech sales jobs have an affinity for technology. Whether you have a background in software engineering, love gaming and game design, or spend your spare time reading up on the latest technological innovations, you can bet that a job in tech sales will place you in an environment where you’ll be sharing these tech-oriented hobbies and interests. Not only does working in tech sales mean you will be one of the first to know of the latest tech developments, but you’ll also get to geek out with your new techie work friends who love all things tech as much as you do. 
  • There will always be new sales opportunities to pursue. Tech is all about innovation, and each time some new software or hardware product goes to market, there will be a need for savvy salespeople to connect it with customers. Once you establish yourself as a tech sales professional, you won’t have to worry about how to get into software sales or transition to selling IT services. It is relatively easy to shift to selling new products and services. Tech sales offer potential job security that is not seen in other professions. 
  • A tech sales background is well suited for individuals who would like to pivot into consulting. Since you must become masterful in how the product you are selling operates, you will become one of the foremost experts on each type of equipment or system. Should you want to leave sales as a career, you will have the experience, insights and credibility to be a professional tech consultant.
  • You may be able to work remotely. Many jobs have transitioned to offer remote opportunities in the past few years, and tech sales is no exception. While some types of tech selling jobs might require you to be onsite at a customer’s place of business or a trade show or symposium, there are a lot of tech sales jobs that will allow you to work remotely from anywhere in the world as long as you have a strong internet connection. Being a digital nomad is a strong pull for many people who appreciate the flexibility of remote-work opportunities.  

How to get into tech sales 

While it is not hard to find a tech sales company looking for people who can demonstrate experience selling tech products and services, you may have some hurdles to jump over to get your foot in the door of the industry. 

If you have a solid tech background as a software or computer engineer, developer or designer—or if you’ve been involved in tech product manufacturing or providing tech support to people or organizations—you’ll probably find a more straightforward pathway into the tech sales field than someone without previous tech industry experience.

Alternatively, If you’re a seasoned sales professional who hasn’t worked with tech sales before, you’ll have to show that you can understand, demonstrate, troubleshoot and ultimately sell the product. Some companies are reluctant to hire people without technology sales already on their resume, but that’s just an opportunity to get creative in showing a potential employer why you’re a good candidate for a particular position. 

You might want to try one or more of these strategies to find the ideal place to begin your tech sales career and make yourself stand out to a potential tech sales rep employer:

  • Know everything about the industry you want to pursue. Spend time researching and understanding how the tech industry—and the particular sector you are interested in—works, where it is trending, and what companies are being acquired and by whom. Who is in the news for a pending merger or acquisition? Who is poised to roll out the next big technological innovation? Once you know the industry, start making a list of companies with the potential to be great places to work. 

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With Crunchbase Pro you can easily research companies in your desired industry and see if they’re actively hiring directly on company profiles.

  • Research the background of every company you want to target. Conduct company research as if you are a prospect. Find out as much as possible about each company where you might want to work. Market research information providers such as Crunchbase can be extremely useful in this regard. With its sophisticated methodologies for finding and disseminating vital company data and information, Crunchbase offers insights to help you drill down into each company of interest’s operations. You’ll learn how they are funded, who the founding members and current leaders are, and how to reach the right individuals to approach about a position.  
  • Learn the sales processes of the companies you want to target. The best way to understand a company’s selling system is to put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. Research each company’s products and learn how they reach out to customers. Read their inbound marketing emails and publications, and look for third-party reviews and articles extolling each product’s benefits and drawbacks. In essence, see how the company’s sales funnel draws prospects in and moves them through a sales process that encourages sales and provides ongoing support and assistance. Arm yourself with the customer’s perspective, so when you walk into a job interview you can speak about the product and sales process with an insider’s knowledge and point of view.  
  • Be prepared to show your relevant background and experience. If you have developed strong tech chops with similar products, worked with an organization offering products or services in the same sector, or pursued an interest that relates well to the products and industry at hand, put that information front and center in all your communications. Ensure your relevant background is reflected in your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Let references know that you would like them to highlight certain aspects of your background that will help you win the position you seek. 
  • Master the art of communication. Sales are all about communicating. You might be the savviest tech person on the block, but if you don’t know how to approach a prospect with confidence, compassion and candor, you will not succeed at sales. There are plenty of classes you can take and coaches you can hire to help you beef up your communication skills. Since sales often involve speaking to rooms filled with people, think about joining an organization like Toastmasters to hone your public speaking skills. 
  • Network with people in the field. One of the best ways to learn what hard and soft skills you’ll need to succeed in tech sales, and to be competitive when looking for a tech selling position, is to talk to people who are already successful in the field. You can even reach out to potential employers for an informational interview, an opportunity to seek advice on what you need to do to gain entry into the field. 

Let the power of Crunchbase help you find a career in tech sales 

When it comes to establishing yourself in industry tech sales, the most effective weapon you can have in your competitive arsenal is information. And nobody can provide the depth and breadth of tech company insights and information like Crunchbase.

You can research industries like software, hardware, manufacturing, and data and analytics, and filter queries by location, investment stage and number of employees. Once you find a tech startup or other company of interest on Crunchbase, you can easily see if they’re hiring with actively hiring data directly on company profiles along with a link to the company’s website and career page.

To learn more about how Crunchbase can be your secret weapon in your tech job search as well as sales prospecting endeavors, visit our website and sign up for a free trial. And, be sure to check out Crunchbase News to stay up to date with the latest news in the innovation ecosystem through deeply reported, data-driven journalism on private markets, startups, founders and investors.

  • Originally published July 30, 2022