IT and telecoms careers for graduates: Technical sales.
The area of technical sales is the least technical of all positions in the IT field. Some computer graduates who have an interest in sales and marketing decide to move into this area; they may have a postgraduate qualification in marketing or alternatively have a business/marketing degree and an add-on IT qualification. Neither of these routes is always compulsory.
The work involves concentrating on a particular software product or service and on a particular client sector. This is a highly competitive market; knowledge of the product and its capabilities, and winning communication skills are essential. Typical activities include sourcing potential customers; fully understanding clients’ needs and requirements; providing advice about the advantages of the software/service, maintaining regular contact with existing customers; advising customers of updates and new technologies; and being familiar with competitors’ activities and products.
Other duties include making a lot of telephone calls, putting together proposals and tender documents, and travelling to and attending meetings. The key backdrop to all these activities is the need to meet sales and commission targets.
In terms of promotion opportunities, sales people generally rise to the position of sales manager. Opportunities for overseas travel/transfer are lower than in other areas; the skills are less specialist and factors such as cultural awareness and language are more important than in other areas.
Sales people need to be positive communicators. They need to be able to develop a good rapport with others, establish authentic and warm relationships (or at least appear to!) and be able to sell themselves and the product. Sales people also need to be calm and well resourced; the pressure to meet deadlines and sales targets can be intense and in some ways you’re only as good as your last month of sales.