Sales engineer: Explore careers and the value of an online BS in Industrial Distribution

Careers in industrial distribution can take you in a variety of directions, depending on your skills and interests. If you’re both interested in technology and a “people person,” you may want to pursue a career that combines these two qualities. The sales engineer career path might be the right choice for you. As a sales engineer, you can utilize your problem-solving skills in a stimulating, collaborative environment.

The job duties of a sales engineer

Sales engineers are highly specialized professionals who combine a background in tech and interpersonal skills to attract and retain customers. They have the capability to speak about the company’s software or products at a highly advanced level while having a business-oriented mindset that allows them to understand customer behavior and habits. Sales engineers use their analytical mindset and strong communication skills to sell sophisticated technology products, software, services, and equipment to consumers.

Here is a sales engineer job description that outlines the major duties of these professionals:

  • Deliver presentations to prospective clients
  • Close deals with new connections
  • Hold demonstrations for new consumers
  • Gather customers’ goals and needs for the platform
  • Tailor the technology solutions to meet your clients’ expectations and requirements
  • Collaborate with the product development team to communicate customer feedback
  • Attend conferences to advertise the product and gain market insight

Sales engineers might work alongside a large team of professionals, including sales representatives, account executives, and other sales personnel. Alternatively, they might be the only quota-holding sales professional working with various clients. Although sales engineers may be required to travel to prospective clients, they might conduct the majority of their presentations through webinar platforms and phone conferences.

Differentiating this career from other jobs in sales

Salespeople don’t always garner the best reputations. People might have a bad opinion of professionals in sales, drawing on common tropes of shady used car salesmen and imposing telemarketers. However, every sale is different. Ranging from door-to-door salespeople to highly specialized sales engineers, careers in sales are abundant and varied.

Two sales engineers collaborating on a project

As a sales engineer, your primary role is that of a consultant to your clients. You aren’t just trying to sell the product to enterprises and mid-sized organizations; you’re ensuring that your business’ services work for each of your clients. You may offer on-site training to help consumers understand how to leverage your product to benefit their financial bottom line. This is a more hands-on approach than a traditional sales pitch, in which a salesperson provides the benefits and features of the product but encourages the client to decide how to capitalize on it.

Sales engineer salary outlook

Sales professionals can earn a range of salaries based on a variety of factors. Some salespeople receive a salary with the potential for an annual bonus. Others earn commission based on their performance metrics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median industrial distribution salary for sales professionals is $27,020. In contrast, sales engineers typically earn three times this amount.

The BLS reports a median salary of $98,720 for sales engineers in all levels of this career. Even the low end of this career’s salary range is higher than the average earnings in the U.S. The lowest 10 percent of sales engineers make approximately $56,940. The top 10 percent of professionals in this career have the potential to earn more than $162,740.

The demand for sales engineers

With technology on the rise, it should come as no surprise that the career of a sales engineer is in high demand. Employment in this field is projected to increase 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS.

Although this 7 percent rise reflects a positive career outlook, employment in certain sectors is growing rapidly. Sales engineer jobs in computer systems design and other related services is expected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026. This substantial number shows that this career is as high in demand as it is lucrative.

The concentration in industrial distribution engineering

Being an effective sales engineer requires technology expertise and stellar interpersonal skills. However, the right education can lay a foundation for this fulfilling career. Having a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as industrial distribution, is required for most sales engineer positions, according to PayScale.

Earning a bachelor’s in industrial distribution

If you are interested in pursuing a lucrative career as a sales engineer or a similar track, you should consider obtaining an online Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business. This undergraduate program can help you hone your technical skills while building your overall business expertise.

The fully online program gives you the opportunity to earn your bachelor’s degree in industrial distribution with a sense of flexibility that an on-campus program lacks. You can effectively balance coursework with your other major responsibilities. Preparing to pursue the role of sales engineer starts with the right education. To find out more about the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution degree, contact an enrollment advisor today.


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Online Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution

Average Sales Engineer Salary by PayScale

Sales Engineers by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Sales Engineers — Occupational Outlook Quarterly by BLS