Sales Engineer

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Bachelor's degree
Salary
High: $195,140.00
Average: $125,460.00
Hourly
Average: $60.32

What they do:

Sell business goods or services, the selling of which requires a technical background equivalent to a baccalaureate degree in engineering.

On the job, you would:

  • Maintain sales forecasting reports.
  • Develop, present, or respond to proposals for specific customer requirements, including request for proposal responses and industry-specific solutions.
  • Collaborate with sales teams to understand customer requirements, to promote the sale of company products, and to provide sales support.

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, such as customizing a product for the customer.

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.

Personality

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

95% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
95% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
94% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
92% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
91% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
90% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
88% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
88% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
84% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
80% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
80% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
79% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
79% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
78% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
74% Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
72% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Strengths

100% Enterprising  -  Work involves managing, negotiating, marketing, or selling, typically in a business setting, or leading or advising people in political and legal situations. Enterprising occupations are often associated with business initiatives, sales, marketing/advertising, finance, management/administration, professional advising, public speaking, politics, or law.
67% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

78% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
72% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
72% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
61% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
61% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

Aptitude

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

78% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
78% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
75% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
75% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
75% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
72% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
69% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
69% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
66% Category Flexibility  -  The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
66% Fluency of Ideas  -  The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
66% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

70% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Job Details

Responsibilities
Implement design or process improvements.
Gather customer or product information to determine customer needs.
Discuss design or technical features of products or services with technical personnel.
Share sales-related or market information with colleagues.
Sell products or services.
Arrange delivery of goods or services.
Develop proposals for current or prospective customers.
Sell products or services.
Troubleshoot equipment or systems operation problems.
Explain financial information to customers.
Recommend products or services to customers.
Develop content for sales presentations or other materials.
Explain technical product or service information to customers.
Deliver promotional presentations to current or prospective customers.
Advise customers on the use of products or services.
Identify potential customers.
Demonstrate products to consumers.
Contact current or potential customers to promote products or services.
Prepare sales or other contracts.
Contact current or potential customers to promote products or services.
Monitor market conditions or trends.
Attend events to develop professional knowledge.
Discuss design or technical features of products or services with technical personnel.
Prepare technical or operational reports.
Develop marketing plans or strategies.
Identify potential customers.
Maintain records of sales or other business transactions.
Train sales personnel.
Prepare financial documents, reports, or budgets.
Attend events to develop professional knowledge.
Share sales-related or market information with colleagues.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

100% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
97% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
91% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
89% Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
89% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
89% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
87% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
87% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
87% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
86% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
80% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
75% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
75% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
74% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
68% Level of Competition  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to compete or to be aware of competitive pressures?
68% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
77% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

86% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
85% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
83% Selling or Influencing Others  -  Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
80% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
80% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
77% Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information  -  Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
75% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
74% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
74% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
72% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
71% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
66% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
66% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

What Sales Engineers Do

Sales engineers
Sales engineers specialize in technologically and scientifically advanced products.

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
  • Talk 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 team with other salespersons, such as wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives, 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.

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.

Work Environment

Sales engineers held about 60,900 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of sales engineers were as follows:

Manufacturing 23%
Merchant wholesalers, durable goods 22
Computer systems design and related services 19
Wholesale trade agents and brokers 6
Telecommunications 4

Some sales engineers have large territories and travel extensively. Because sales regions may cover several states, sales engineers may be away from home for several days or even weeks at a time. Other sales engineers cover a smaller region and spend only a few nights away from home.

Sales engineers may encounter stress because their income and job security often depend directly on their success in sales and customer service.

Work Schedules

Most sales engineers work full time. Some may work additional and irregular hours to meet sales goals and client needs.

Getting Started

Education:
57%
Bachelor's Degree
25%
Master's Degree

How to Become a Sales Engineer

Sales engineers
Successful sales engineers will have a combination of technical knowledge of the products they are selling and strong interpersonal skills.

To enter the occupation, sales engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree. 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, such as business. However, candidates who do not have a degree sometimes meet qualifications if they have sales experience and technical experience or training.

College 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.

Job Outlook

Employment of sales engineers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 5,900 openings for sales engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Sales engineers are expected to be in demand to help promote an increasing number of technologically sophisticated products and services.

Employment growth is likely to be strong for sales engineers selling computer software and hardware. Strong industry growth is expected in computer systems design and related services, contributing to employment growth in the occupation.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about careers in sales occupations, visit

Manufacturers' Agents National Association (MANA)

Manufacturers' Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF)

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This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of sales engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
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Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.