Sales engineers specialize in technologically and scientifically advanced products across a variety of engineering industries. These engineers are pillars for technical design companies, and their work spans a number of sectors.
Recent engineering graduates, especially those who have an interest in business or communication, might consider a career in this field. Here's more information on what sales engineers do and how to become a sales engineer.
1. What does a sales engineer do?
Sales engineers primarily exist in industrial and commercial markets to assist their clients in making the best design solutions. Their primary role is to understand a client's design needs and surface the best possible solution, given critical design factors. In a sales engineer role, it is crucial to stay informed of current technologies, as clients depend on technical expertise to select and design certain segments of the greater system. Critical factors in design for commercial and industrial business include:
- Maintenance frequency
- Capital expense
- Operating expense
2. How to find a sales engineer job
If you're looking for a job as a sales engineer, keep in mind that the titles for similar jobs might vary. You may also find sales engineer positions listed under job titles such as:
- Inside sales engineer
- Field sales engineer
- Pre-sales engineer
- Solutions engineer
- Technical sales specialist
- Technical sales architect
- Technical pre-sales architect
Regardless of the position's title, you should write a resume that reflects your experience in the field, education and skills. Our Resume Templates can help you create a well-organized resume that shows a hiring manager why you're the best fit for the job. And our Cover Letter Templates can help you craft a cover letter that complements your resume perfectly. In the end you'll have standout application materials for a sales engineer job.
3. Common sales engineer industries
Two markets boast the highest concentration of sales engineers: industrial/commercial and software industries. Here's a little bit more information about the roles in each sector:
- Industrial and commercial sectors
A general sales engineer job description in the industrial and commercial industries will include general contractor consulting, product application support, technical cooperation with the job's contractor, and technical documentation on behalf of the client. The sales engineer is the primary point of contact regarding all ancillary products and is the product expert within the company they represent.
- Software industries
A sales engineer job in the software industry requires employees to be responsible for presenting the technical aspects of a company's framework, understanding customer requirements, and proposing the best solution for a client's needs. They are the "technical conscience" in all sales engagements.
4. A sales engineer in action
Still curious about what a sales engineer does? Here's an example to help bring the role to life:
Let's say a design engineering firm is designing a complex building HVAC system for an architect. (In this case, the design engineering firm is the client.) The design engineering firm may contact an HVAC manufacturing company sales engineer to assist in the design of specific components of the system. The sales engineer works with the design engineering company (the client) to give precise, refined component selections that provide the best design for the system based on a variety of factors.
Sales engineers interface with clients more than most engineers and tend to have robust soft skills. They are professional, great communicators, and have strong interpersonal skills. Highlighting these soft skills and knowledge in your engineering resume and a well-organized cover letter can help set you apart.
5. Sales engineer career path
Sales engineers typically have a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field such as engineering technologies. However, applicants may also have a degree in a general science or another technical field. Most companies require sales engineers to hold a degree related to the professional area in which they will work. In the HVAC industry example above, that sales engineer would likely have a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.
Companies that frequently employ sales engineers often have robust training programs to familiarize the sales engineers with their portfolio. These training programs can range from a few days to a few months long, depending on the complexity and breadth of the company's product offerings.
Sales engineers are also known to complement their technical training with sales and business education. It is common for sales engineers to hold certificates, minors or even a second bachelor's degrees in business, communication, management or similar fields. They may also attend training in these fields through their company.
To help make your entry level sales engineer application best reflect your skills and experience, use our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder. Our builders have dozens of templates and provide step-by-step guidance for creating the application materials that can help open doors to becoming a sales engineer.