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Become An Outside Sales Engineer

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Working As An Outside Sales Engineer

  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $84,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Outside Sales Engineer Do

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:

  • Prepare and deliver technical presentations explaining products or services to existing and prospective customers
  • Confer with customers and engineers to assess equipment needs and to determine system requirements
  • Collaborate with sales teams to understand customer requirements and provide sales support
  • Secure and renew orders and arrange delivery
  • Plan and modify products to meet customer needs
  • Help clients solve problems with installed equipment
  • Recommend improved materials or machinery to customers, showing how changes will lower costs or increase production
  • Help in researching and developing new products

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.

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How To Become An Outside Sales Engineer

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.

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Outside Sales Engineer Jobs

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Outside Sales Engineer Career Paths

Outside Sales Engineer
Sales Engineer Regional Sales Manager Business Development Manager
Senior Business Development Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Sales Engineer Sales Manager Account Manager
Global Account Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Sales Engineer Regional Sales Manager
National Accounts Sales Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Application Engineer Product Manager District Sales Manager
Division Sales Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Application Engineer Product Manager Regional Sales Manager
Central Region Sales Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Application Engineer Account Manager District Sales Manager
Eastern Regional Sales Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Sales Manager Director Of Sales
Director Of Global Sales
13 Yearsyrs
Account Executive Store Manager District Sales Manager
Regional Sales And Marketing Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Account Executive General Manager Director Of Sales
Director, Strategic Accounts
13 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Manager Business Development Manager
Global Business Development Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Product Manager National Sales Manager
International Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Engineering Manager Sales Engineering Manager
Director Of Sales Engineering
12 Yearsyrs
Sales Specialist Customer Service Manager Inside Sales Manager
Outside Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Sales Specialist Marketing Manager Marketing Program Manager
Sales Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales Specialist Sales Supervisor Inside Sales Manager
Regional Sales Manager, Mid Atlantic Region
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Senior Systems Engineer Senior Sales Engineer
Technical Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Engineering Manager Sales Engineering Manager
OEM Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Outside Sales Engineer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Outside Sales 3.8 years
Sales Engineer 3.7 years
Top Careers Before Outside Sales Engineer
Engineer 4.2%
Top Careers After Outside Sales Engineer
Owner 5.5%

Do you work as an Outside Sales Engineer?

How Would You Rate The Salary Of an Outside Sales Engineer?

Have you worked as an Outside Sales Engineer? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as an Outside Sales Engineer.

Top Skills for An Outside Sales Engineer

  1. Product Lines
  2. Territory Sales
  3. New Accounts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Communicated with Plants, Product Lines, and Management to provide timely service and innovative ideas for the customers I support.
  • Increased territory sales by 15% in first year while generating new business ventures with new clientele.
  • Identified and closed more than $3K in sales per site at 10+ new accounts per quarter.
  • Earned sales achievement award for the largest volume increase to OEM accounts 1999-2000.
  • Provide customer service that exceeds customer expectations to develop customer loyalty.

Outside Sales Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

82.3%

Unknown

9.5%

Female

8.2%
Ethnicity

White

66.6%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

10.6%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

54.5%

Japanese

18.2%

Dakota

9.1%

Italian

9.1%

French

9.1%
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Outside Sales Engineer Education

Schools

North Carolina State University

6.3%

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

6.3%

Arizona State University

6.3%

University of Phoenix

6.3%

University of Cincinnati

6.3%

Purdue University

6.3%

Ferris State University

4.7%

Marshall University

4.7%

De Anza College

4.7%

University of Central Florida

4.7%

University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez

4.7%

Brigham Young University

4.7%

University of Houston

4.7%

Clarkson University

4.7%

Case Western Reserve University

4.7%

University of Utah

4.7%

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

4.7%

Fox Valley Technical College

4.7%

Rice University

3.1%

Washington State University

3.1%
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Majors

Business

24.4%

Mechanical Engineering

16.7%

Electrical Engineering

12.8%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

5.6%

Marketing

4.7%

Management

3.8%

Industrial Technology

3.4%

Engineering And Industrial Management

3.4%

Civil Engineering

3.0%

Chemical Engineering

3.0%

General Sales

3.0%

Computer Science

2.1%

Education

2.1%

Communication

2.1%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.1%

Economics

1.7%

Industrial Engineering

1.7%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

1.7%

Engineering Technology

1.3%

Drafting And Design

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

57.8%

Other

16.2%

Masters

11.5%

Associate

10.6%

Certificate

2.1%

Diploma

1.2%

Doctorate

0.6%
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