Tech is one of the fastest-growing industries today. In fact, the number of technology startups has increased by 47% in the last decade — creating a need for competent salespeople.
If you have an interest in tech — and an even greater interest in helping people — a career in tech sales could be a smart move. However, there are a few things you should know before diving in.
Here, we’ll cover the basics of tech sales, the pros and cons of working in this industry, and how you can kickstart a career in tech sales in 2023.
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Admittedly, this definition is broad by design. This is because the type of tech you’ll sell varies depending on the kind of company you work for.
For instance, one company might sell computer hardware, like laptops and monitors, while another sells CRM software. Or, they might sell a combination of tech, such as computers with anti-virus software.
Tech companies tend to specialize in one (or more) of the following categories:
- Software. Software solutions can be sold as programs or as a service (SaaS) that requires a subscription. Examples include CRMs, billing software, and project management software.
- Hardware. Tech hardware is the physical devices or equipment that run software, such as laptops, phones, and tech accessories.
- IT services. This involves selling security, consulting, or troubleshooting services to companies.
Next, let’s dive deeper into the role of a tech sales representative.
This role requires equal parts tech knowledge and social skills. In other words, knowing the bells and whistles of a product or service is half the battle. You also need to uncover your customers’ needs and communicate how you can alleviate their pain points.
Because tech sales is a multi-step process, your responsibilities could also include:
- Generating and scoring leads
- Conducting discovery calls
- Recommending and demonstrating products
- Writing reports and proposals for vendors or clients
- Researching current market trends
- Building rapport with new and existing customers.
Should you work in tech sales?
So, is a job in tech sales right for you? Let’s explore the pros and cons of this industry below.
Pro: High demand
Sales is the lifeblood of every business, putting the demand for sales-related jobs in high gear. On top of that, the total number of technology startups has increased by 47% since 2007, creating a growing need for capable tech sales professionals.
Pro: Competitive salaries
Because sales jobs in the tech industry require specialized knowledge, the pay tends to be more competitive than other positions.
On average, tech sales professionals make $71,300 per year in the United States. This number jumps to $129,700 a year for a tech sales manager. Expect these numbers to grow with experience and commission.
Pro: Plenty of opportunities
With so many roles on a sales team — such as account executives, business development reps, and team managers — there’s plenty of opportunity to advance your career.
Further, as you gain more experience, you can move vertically to other sectors in the industry that interest you, including FoodTech, CleanTech, and more.
Cons: High pressure
Sales is a tough grind. Tech companies, in particular, rely heavily on subscription renewals more than other industries.
More often than not, your performance will be entirely results-based. In other words, you’re only as good as the numbers you pull.
For some, the pressure to hit quota is a fantastic motivator. But for others, it can quickly lead to stress and even burnout. All this to say, it takes a great deal of dedication and persistence to succeed in this role — but if you can push through, you’ll find many rewarding aspects of the job.
Cons: Steep learning curve
To state the obvious, tech sales professionals need to know the ins and outs of the technology they sell. However, the industry is always evolving, along with the products in it. Expect to face a steep learning curve that never goes away.
Although the tech industry seems intimidating, it has a relatively low barrier to entry. Meaning, there’s no strict criteria you have to meet to secure a job. But, on the flip side, this makes it more competitive.
Having experience selling tech products is a plus, but if you’re starting from ground zero, don’t fret. Many companies offer entry-level positions where you can learn (or hone) the technical skills necessary to succeed.
Here are a few strategies to help you get through the door:
1. Highlight your sales experience.
Tech sales is less about the tech and more about the sales part.
Start by scanning your resume for any past sales experience, even if it wasn’t the primary function of your job. Look for examples of when you built positive customer relationships or generated new business. These are two critical activities in the sales process.
Then, rework your resume to highlight these experiences, and prepare to call out a few examples in the interview.
2. Become more marketable with sales (or tech) certifications.
Sales certifications help to beef up your resume and position yourself as a more qualified candidate. Plus, there are certifications for professionals of all experience levels, including entry-level and more advanced programs.
Even if you have some sales experience, certifications can strengthen key skills such as negotiation or prospecting.
3. Know the industry inside and out.
If you want to work in tech, you have to appear like an industry vet. This means immersing yourself in the tech industry and the specific sector you want to pursue.
Follow industry influencers on LinkedIn, join online sales communities, and stay up-to-date with any trends or shifts in the industry. Take note of any big mergers or acquisitions, and read up on the latest tech innovations.
Not only will this give you a solid grasp of the industry, but you’ll also pick up on industry-specific jargon and terminology you can use in your next interview.
4. Look for the right companies.
While you might be tempted to blindly apply to tech companies and see who bites, there are more effective approaches.
Much like lead qualifying in sales, you need to qualify companies before reaching out. Start by listing the specifics of the job you want — such as the type of tech you want to sell, the pay range, and more. Use this criterion to pinpoint companies that are the best fit.
By doing so, you free up more time to research each company, tailor your resume, and prepare for interviews.
5. Network, network, network.
Forging a new career path is daunting, but having the right contacts can make all the difference.
The best time to rev up your networking efforts is before you even begin applying for jobs. That way, you already have contacts to leverage when the time comes.
If you’re on LinkedIn, start searching for professionals in positions you’re interested in. Then, send a request to connect along with a thoughtful message. If they accept, you can even ask for a 15-minute Zoom chat to learn more about their work.
Remember, networking is more than just a one-and-done activity. Keep building your network, engaging with your connections, and finding groups to join. Yes, networking takes time, but your efforts can open new doors that were otherwise outside of reach.
Over to You
Aside from working in one of the fastest-growing industries today, a career in tech sales offers competitive pay, plenty of opportunities to advance, and the chance to work with cutting-edge solutions. We hope this article provides the foundation you need to forge a career path in this exciting industry.