Technical sales

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Many of the careers outlined here are made possible because someone purchases the products they help to create. Technical sales professionals, more than anyone else, are aware of this commercial reality, and as long as software companies continue to win new business there will be a demand for good salespeople.

What the role involves

Technical salespeople tend to concentrate on particular products, services and client sectors, and spend much of their time getting their companies’ products in front of prospective customers. They need not only to source customers but also to maintain contact with them, and to become sensitive to their future needs and requirements.

Junior technical sales is the starting point for new graduates, with many moving up the career ladder over time. Working hours are usually regular, but the job typically involves a lot of travel, which can result in early starts and late finishes (overseas travel is less likely, as cultural awareness and language skills are very important factors in successful sales).

What skills do you need?

As such, the work is very much about relationships and technical salespeople need to have very sophisticated communication skills (these skills will manifest themselves through tender documents, phone calls, emails and face-to-face meetings). Technical sales professionals also need to have a good understanding of the technology which they’re selling, as they need to be able to inform customers about its capabilities. Many are computer graduates with an interest in sales or marketing, or marketing graduates with an add-on IT qualification.

How the role can develop?

The role can become more specialised and complex, focusing on areas as diverse as customer support, sales management or training. Over time a technical sales professional may rise to the position of sales manager. In general, technical sales is a very pressurised field with candidates considered ‘only as good as their last sale’ and constantly trying to meet sales targets and deadlines. Great salespeople, however, tend to thrive under such circumstances.

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