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Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work.Duties
Sales engineers typically do the following:
Sales engineers specialize in technologically and scientifically advanced products. They use their technical skills to explain the benefits of their products or services to potential customers and to show how their products or services are better than their competitors'. Some sales engineers work for the companies that design and build technical products. Others work for independent sales firms.
Many of the duties of sales engineers are similar to those of other salespersons. They must interest the client in buying their products or services, negotiate a price, and complete the sale. To do this, sales engineers give technical presentations during which they explain the technical aspects of the product and how it will solve a specific customer problem.
Some sales engineers, however, team with salespersons who concentrate on marketing and selling the product, which lets the sales engineer concentrate on the technical aspects of the job. By working as part of a sales team, each member is able to focus on his or her strengths and expertise. For more information on other sales occupations, see the profile on wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives.
In addition to giving technical presentations, sales engineers are increasingly doing other tasks related to sales, such as market research. They also may ask for technical requirements from customers and modify and adjust products to meet customers’ specific needs. Some sales engineers work with research and development (R&D) departments to help identify and develop new products.
A bachelor’s degree is typically required to become a sales engineer. Successful sales engineers combine technical knowledge of the products or services they are selling with strong interpersonal skills.Education
Sales engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field. However, a worker without a degree, but with previous sales experience as well as technical experience or training, sometimes holds the title of sales engineer. Workers who have a degree in a science, such as chemistry, or in business with little or no previous sales experience, also may be called sales engineers.
University engineering programs generally require 4 years of study. They vary in content, but all programs include courses in math and the physical sciences. In addition, most programs require developing strong computer skills.
Most engineering programs require students to choose an area of specialization. The most common majors are electrical, mechanical, or civil engineering, but some engineering departments offer additional majors, such as chemical, biomedical, or computer hardware engineering. However, some undergraduate programs offer a general engineering curriculum; students then specialize in a particular area either on the job or in graduate school.Training
New graduates with engineering degrees typically need sales experience and training before they can work independently as sales engineers. Training covers general sales techniques and may involve teaming with a sales mentor who is familiar with the employer's business practices, customers, procedures, and company culture. After the training period, sales engineers may continue to partner with someone who lacks technical skills yet excels in the art of sales.
It is important for sales engineers to continue their engineering and sales education throughout their careers. Much of their value to their employers depends on their knowledge of, and ability to sell, the latest technologies. Sales engineers in high-technology fields, such as information technology and advanced electronics, may find that their technical knowledge rapidly becomes obsolete, requiring frequent retraining.Advancement
Promotions may include a higher commission rate, a larger sales territory, or elevation to the position of supervisor or sales manager.Important Qualities
Interpersonal skills. Strong interpersonal skills are a valuable characteristic for sales engineers, both for building relationships with clients and effectively communicating with other members of the sales team.
Problem-solving skills. Sales engineers must be able to listen to the customer’s desires and concerns, and then recommend solutions, possibly including customizing a product.
Self-confidence. Sales engineers should be confident and persuasive when making sales presentations.
Technological skills. Sales engineers must have extensive knowledge of the technologically sophisticated products they sell in order to explain their advantages and answer questions.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Inside Sales Engineer
Top Careers After Inside Sales Engineer
Hispanic or Latino9.8%
Black or African American0.5%
Inside Sales Engineer
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University of Phoenix21.4%
University of Houston7.2%
Michigan State University5.2%
Texas A&M University5.2%
Sam Houston State University4.6%
Utah Valley University4.4%
University of Utah4.3%
Arizona State University4.3%
West Virginia University4.1%
University of North Texas3.9%
Pennsylvania State University3.9%
Kansas State University3.7%
University of Oregon3.5%
University of Alabama3.3%
Illinois State University3.3%
Northern Illinois University3.3%
Southern New Hampshire University3.3%
San Jose State University3.3%
Inside Sales Engineer
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Logmein, Inc.||Boston, MA||Dec 09, 2016||$91,936|
|Applications Engineer/Inside Sales Engineer||Thermal Engineering International USA, Inc.||Houston, TX||Nov 15, 2011||$85,000|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Vector Controls, LLC||Plano, TX||Jun 09, 2016||$83,000|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Vector Controls and Automation Groups||Plano, TX||Jul 01, 2014||$82,000|
|Technical Inside Sales Engineer||Charles Ross & Son Company||Hauppauge, NY||Dec 12, 2016||$80,000|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Munters Corporation||Buena Vista, VA||Jan 29, 2010||$79,680|
|Inside Sales Engineer (Applications Engineer)||Munters Corporation||Buena Vista, VA||Feb 21, 2012||$78,000|
|CNG Inside Sales Engineer||Cisco Systems, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Aug 10, 2015||$77,064 -
|Inside Sales Engineer/Product Specialist||Yeomans Chicago Corporation||Aurora, IL||Sep 30, 2014||$72,615|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Pacific Coast Sales & Service, Inc.||Sunnyvale, CA||Oct 01, 2009||$70,958|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Control Components, Inc.||Rancho Santa Margarita, CA||Jul 26, 2014||$67,000 -
|Senior Inside Sales Engineer||Crane Co.||Signal Hill, CA||Sep 01, 2014||$67,000|
|Senior Inside Sales Application Engineer||Gems Sensors, Inc.||Plainville, CT||Sep 27, 2010||$65,770 -
|Inside Sales Engineer||National Instruments Corporation||Austin, TX||Aug 31, 2013||$64,000|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Motion Industries, Inc.||Miramar, FL||Jan 04, 2010||$62,193|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Id Business Solutions, Inc.||Burlington, MA||Oct 11, 2010||$60,750 -
|Inside Sales Engineer||American Industrial MacHinery and Parts, Inc.||Miami, FL||Sep 01, 2014||$60,000|
|Inside Sales||Spectrasensors, Inc.||Houston, TX||Nov 25, 2011||$60,000|
|Inside Sales||Spectrasensors, Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 19, 2012||$60,000|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Schneider Electric USA, Inc.||La Vergne, TN||Sep 06, 2014||$59,155 -
|Inside Sales Tech Engineer/Systems Coordinator||Mine Safety Appliances Company||Houston, TX||Dec 02, 2011||$58,752|
|Inside Sales Tech Engineer/Systems Coordinator||Mine Safety Appliances Company||Houston, TX||Dec 12, 2011||$58,752|
|Inside Sales Engineer||Tristate HVAC Equipment LLP||West Conshohocken, PA||Dec 18, 2009||$58,000|
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