A sales engineer is someone who sells 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. They often work under stressful conditions because their income and job security depend on successfully completing sales. Some may work long and irregular hours to meet sales goals and client needs.
What does a Sales Engineer do?
Sales engineers typically do the following:
Prepare and deliver technical presentations that explain products or services to customers and prospective customers
Confer 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' products. 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, however, team with salespersons 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.
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Sales engineers encounter stress because their income and job security often depend directly on their success in sales and customer service. Some sales engineers have large territories and travel extensively. Because sales regions may cover very large areas, 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.
International travel to secure contracts with foreign clients is becoming more common. Some may work long and irregular hours to meet sales goals and client needs. However, many can decide their own schedules.