With each new iPhone, self-driving car, and AI assistant that’s released, it’s clear that technology is advancing. And it’s advancing fast.
In fact, Moore’s Law observes that the number of transistors (a.k.a. computing power) that can fit in a given space doubles every two years.
But what does that mean for you, a B2B salesman? It means it’s time to get into tech sales.
Technology sales can be a highly lucrative and surprisingly fulfilling role for the right candidate. And if you’re from a B2B background, you’ve already got the skill set needed to thrive.
But what is tech sales exactly? What kind of earning potential does it offer? And is making the transition from your current position worth the trouble?
This guide will take you through the answers to these questions and more. Inside, we’ll be looking at what a tech sales job entails, necessary skills, estimated salaries, career paths, and how to break into the industry.
What Is Tech Sales?
Much like sales positions in other industries, tech sales is all about selling. But rather than cars and clothes, high-tech services and devices are the products.
Most buyers will be businesses rather than individuals. As a result, B2B salespeople will be better acquainted with the unique sales process than B2C sales reps.
Technology sales is also a broad term. And companies that employ professional tech sales reps can be as varied as having a few employees or hundreds.
What’s attracting so many to the profession today is the lucrative pay and growing market.
Industries You’ll Be Working In
“Tech” refers to a wide range of products in the technology industry. Generally, though, tech sales professionals will be selling one or more of the following:
- Services – Services are typically hosted on an external server and are accessed through the internet (think data management and cloud storage).
- Software – Non-physical products like operating systems and applications fall into this category.
- Hardware – This includes physical tech products like computers or communication systems.
Snapshot of the Tech Sales Industry
Sure, the pay is excellent, and there are countless advancement opportunities. But is transitioning to technology sales a good career choice? What about job security?
Have a look at the statistics below to better understand why moving to tech sales is a great long-term move, too.
- The global information technology industry is expected to reach $5 trillion in revenue by the end of 2021.
- The U.S. Department of Labor estimates a 15% rise in tech employment from 2019 to 2022.
- There is plenty of demand, with nearly 950,000 open tech sales jobs as of September 2021.
So what exactly does a tech sales representative do, anyway? Below is just a glimpse of what a typical day looks like for a tech salesperson.
- Learn About Their Products – Even the smallest of errors can tank a B2B deal. That’s why tech sales reps will need to study and understand their products like the back of their hand.
- Follow Up With Sales Leads – Maintaining long-term relationships is vital for success in the tech sales sector. Reps will spend a good chunk of their day making calls to businesses, sending out follow-up emails to leads, social selling on LinkedIn and answering lots of client questions.
- Conduct Demonstrations – Often the final step before the pitch, a technical demo allows sales professionals to show off the product. Here again, a salesperson will need to know all the ins and outs of their product to demonstrate its value effectively.
- Networking – Word-of-mouth deals are typical among tech buyers. And the more people you know, the better equipped you’ll be to leverage those relationships to generate new customers.
Do You Need a Tech Background To Get Started In Technology Sales?
You sure don’t. A common misconception in the tech industry is that you need to have direct knowledge in tech to thrive. In fact, nearly half (43%) of all open jobs in the industry don’t require any technical background.
That being said, you will need a few other particular skills to succeed as a tech sales representative.
The skills you need to thrive will vary between companies. But even still, most successful technology sales professionals will have the following qualities.
- Excellent Communication – If you have a background in sales, this may come naturally to you. Tech sales representatives need to clearly communicate their products’ capabilities, features and value to close the deal. They also need to clearly answer their buyers’ questions (there will likely be lots of them).
- Ability To Learn Quickly – Success in this role takes an in-depth knowledge of the product. And with tech advancing every day, sales reps in this industry need to keep up. Those who can learn quickly will have the edge over the competition.
- A Born Problem Solver – Salesmanship alone may work for low-ticket products. But in the tech sector, a successful deal hinges on a salesperson’s ability to demonstrate value. A tech sales rep, will focus on solving a buyer’s problem rather than tricking them into saying yes, especially when there are many stakeholders involved.
- Highly Motivated – The pressure can be high in tech sales. And if you aren’t motivated and ambitious, you can get left behind the pack fast. A successful tech sales rep needs to be comfortable with extended hours in a high-stress environment.
Tech Sales Salary
In such a booming industry, it isn’t surprising that successful tech sales professionals are compensated well at most tech companies. Whether you’re selling software or technology tools a career in tech can be lucrative.
Average Tech Sales Representative Pay: $53,586 per year (Glassdoor).
Average Tech Sales Pay, All Positions: $77,395 per year (Glassdoor).
Tech Sales Pay Across Major Companies
Beyond the average base bay, tech sales representatives also tend to earn great commissions. Commission rates will, of course, vary between companies. But reps tend to bring in anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 per year in extra pay.
Tech Sales Career Path
Below are positions that may open up for many tech sales representatives who are interested in having career in tech.
- Tech Sales Manager – A tech sales manager leads a team of tech sales representatives. They handle the hiring, training, and development of team members. They’re also responsible for ensuring their team meets set quotas and satisfy the needs of their potential customers. They have the best base salary.
- 2-4 years of experience
- $84,527 average annual salary
- Business Development Manager – A business development manager, is responsible for seeking out new leads for the company. Their position is focused on establishing and maintaining relationships with potential clients.
- 2-4 years of experience
- $89,381 average annual salary
- Regional Sales Manager – A regional tech sales manager oversees a company’s sales operations across a geographical region. They may also be responsible for training and working closely with sales managers in their regions.
- 5-7 years of experience
- $97,370 average annual salary
- Vice President of Sales – These top-level executives are experienced leaders with a vast knowledge of the company and the sales process. They identify long-term sales targets and goals. And they’re tasked with coordinating all efforts to achieve those goals.
- 8+ years of experience
- $185,091 average annual salary
How to Break Into Tech Sales
The tech sales field is highly competitive—there’s no getting around it. It isn’t just straight selling talent that separates the candidates for each tech sales job. There are a few things you can do to stand out from other applicants.
- Cultivate an Understanding of B2B Sales – If you’re already familiar B2B sales, you have a leg-up on the competition from the start. If not, you’ll likely need some business training as you start your new sales role. B2B sales are often more significant and much more complex than B2C. And that means having a different set of skills even if you are starting at an entry level.
- Get a Feel for the Culture – The types of sales reps that thrive the most in tech help their customers solve a problem. If you’re the “I can sell a glass of water to a drowning man” type, then buckle up for a severe culture shift. Learn to concentrate on helping clients, not tricking them into buying.
- Network With Other Tech Sellers – Intensive networking is a surefire way of breaking into a career in tech. Connect with other tech sellers on platforms like LinkedIn and hiring managers at the tech companies you’re interested in working at. And start following their content to get more acquainted with the language and topic matter used in the industry.
- Bone up on the Fundamentals – If you come from a B2B background, you’re already intimately familiar with the principles of selling. But given the massive price tags of most tech deals, you’ll want to make sure you revisit those fundamentals well before interviews. And of course, do plenty of homework on your interviewer’s target customer, product catalog, and brand personality.
Are You Equipped for the Shift to Tech Sales?
The tech industry is only getting bigger. There are more sales positions at tech companies than ever before. And if you’re considering transitioning into tech sales, now’s the time. It pays well. It offers plenty of upward mobility. And for salespeople more interested in solving problems than selling, it can be very fulfilling.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you figure out if tech sales is for you. And if it is, use the tips outlined above to make your transition a successful one.