What is tech sales, and how do you break into it?
Today, tech sales mostly refers to software sales—specifically, selling SaaS products. But there’s more to tech sales than that.
By Donny Kelwig, Contributing Writer
Last updated January 12, 2023
Finding a good position in tech sales isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. The tech industry is constantly churning out new products to sell, and it needs good salespeople to communicate the value of its products to a public overwhelmed with options.
Luckily, many companies are willing to train the right people. In this guide, we’ll break down the essentials of tech sales and what you’ll need to begin applying for work in this competitive field. Even without years of direct experience, you can still communicate the value of your other skills to land a job in tech sales. You just need to know where to start.
How to get a job in tech sales—the basics
Let’s begin with a clear-cut tech sales definition. Tech sales is the process of selling technology as software, hardware, or an IT service.
That’s a pretty broad definition. As a tech sales rep, you might be selling only one kind of tech product, such as a cloud CRM platform. Or, you might sell a product that combines different components, like a wearable tech device with embedded software.
Here’s a breakdown of the three kinds of products you might sell as a tech sales rep:
- Software products. Software solutions can be sold as on-premise programs that are directly installed onto the customer’s computer or as SaaS (software as a service), which runs on the vendor’s servers and operates through an Internet browser. These kinds of products include CRM software, accounting and document-signing programs, email automation apps, and many others.
- Hardware products. Tech hardware is the physical product used to run the software. This includes laptops, desktop computers, servers, tech accessories, phones, and other physical devices.
- Tech and IT services. Lastly, a tech sales rep might sell consulting and troubleshooting services to companies that don’t have a dedicated IT staff. Whether these tech wizards have a single specialty or a wide range of IT skills, it’s the salesperson’s job to land clients who need that knowledge and are willing to pay for it.
For traditional salespeople, the main objective is to see if their product or service could solve their client’s problems. But tech sales is a slightly different beast.
As a sales technologist, you’d be working with organizations that offer their services through multiple forms of technology. For example, a company that sells computer software might offer organizational tools or cloud CRM software to keep their client info in order.
The bulk of tech sales is working with customers to find exactly what challenges they’re facing and what technology exists that will help them out. Some companies may just need a new line of laptops. But with higher-value accounts, they could need many different technologies such as sales trackers or automation tools to scale up their productivity.
What does a technology salesperson do?
Technology sales teams have a wide range of responsibilities on a day-to-day basis. And it’s all with one goal in mind—to connect their customers with solutions. Tech sales reps must have extensive knowledge on the product they’re selling. They’re also responsible for some of the following tasks:
- Designing technology packages for clients
- Discussing the benefits of different products
- Using sales technology to connect with possible clients
- Keeping up with sales reports and marketing data
These daily tasks also apply to IT sales, but there are a few key differences between the roles.
IT sales vs. technology sales
IT sales and technology sales look similar on the surface. Both involve working with clients to find any challenges they might be facing and designing a set of hardware and software that can solve these issues. However, IT salespeople place their focus on assisting the client after they close the sale.
While tech sales reps are all about selling, IT sales representatives stick around to help clients who have questions or concerns. They also check to see if a company works well with the software or if they need a few more tools to really pick up the pace.
Essentially, tech salespeople focus on selling products to a variety of companies, while IT salespeople continue to solve a company’s problems once a sale is complete.
Why work in tech sales?
Everyone is looking for a paycheck for their own reasons. But outside of the customary short-term payoffs, there are a few long-term benefits of working in tech sales.
Stay up-to-date on technology trends
The next technological breakthrough is always right around the corner. As a tech sales representative, you’d be one of the first people to learn about modern software and hardware trends. You’ll also get an in-depth look at the important features of new technology, which can give you technical experience with the product.
This can be a great way to find new sales opportunities. You can even act as a consultant for these types of products. You’d be able to offer your expertise and advise companies on how each product works, which could lead to a wide range of career growth options.
Since you’re working with a tech company, you’ll also have access to some of the industries’ best sales force automation (SFA) software, which would keep you at the forefront of automation advancements.
There’s always new technology to sell
There will always be a need for salespeople in the tech industry because companies are constantly looking for new breakthroughs to solve their buyers’ problems. Whether it’s a tool that can shave a few minutes off the daily operations or a program that can restructure and streamline an entire process, there are typically great tech innovations just around the corner. And someone will need to be there to sell them.
Startups and existing companies are constantly looking to fine-tune an existing product or revolutionize their industry with new ideas. If you manage to land a long-term role with a company, you’ll understand the benefits and uses of different types of advanced technology and stay ahead of the curve.
These traits make tech sales a stable industry to work in. Whether you’re working for a wide range of businesses or looking for a position with a single company, you won’t have trouble finding tech products and services to sell.
Meet plenty of industry-relevant people
Every company has its own set of challenges, and they’re continuously looking for a way to boost earnings. Working in the technology space gives you an opportunity to interact with professionals from a wide spectrum of fascinating and high-profile industries.
Whether you’re speaking with someone face-to-face or CCing them in an email, the simple act of interacting with different people will help plant your name in the minds of important players in your industry. Those contacts could be invaluable if you decide to change your career path.
That said, if you prefer to stay in tech sales, there are plenty of opportunities for mobility. You’ll have connections with a variety of other talented salespeople who can share strategies or lucrative job opportunities.
Of course, in order to reap the benefits of working in tech sales, you need to get the job first.
How to break into tech sales
Between consulting skills, sales strategies, communication skills, and numerous other responsibilities that come with nailing the selling process, it can feel like tech sales positions have a lot of barriers to entry—especially if you’re transitioning from another field.
But if you’re looking to break into tech sales, there are some steps you can take to land a position without years of experience, technical knowledge, and a fancy tech degree.
Leverage your sales experience
Tech sales is mostly centered on selling new products to companies, so hiring managers don’t place as much importance on understanding the technical details behind each product. You can iron out any necessary details about products later. For now, the most important trait to highlight is your sales experience.
Fun fact: You don’t need to work in sales to have legit sales experience. Maybe you developed savvy communication skills from a fast-food job or dug into your negotiation skills as a real estate agent. Any time you’ve used persuasion to motivate someone to take action counts as sales experience.
Spring for certifications
If you don’t have any concrete sales experience, there are still plenty of options that can help you break into technology sales. Showing hiring managers that you have the drive to work in a sales position is a great first step.
There’s a wide range of free sales certifications you can find online to get a competitive edge in the job market. Having these certifications on an application shows hiring managers that you’re willing to put effort into your job, and it gives you more staying power during hiring decisions.
If you’re interested in working at a specific company, check out their tech sales reps on LinkedIn to see their work and education history. You might get ideas for courses or programs that will give you skills they expect from their tech salespeople. Even though training won’t give you hands-on sales experience, they’re great resources for familiarizing yourself with sales strategies and tactics.
Network, network, network
Networking is responsible for 70 percent of all hires in the modern era. So if you’re looking to land a position in tech sales, interacting with companies is your best bet.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and professional. Then, try to find individuals with the tech sales position you’re looking for and ask about their day-to-day. This is a good way to learn about tech sales processes and strategies from the source, and you’ll also be able to build relationships with people from different tech companies.
If you have a particular company in mind, try connecting with their recruiters and walk them through your profile. Even if they don’t have an opportunity ready for you, you’ll be able to learn more about what they’re looking for when you apply in the future.
These strategies can help you find opportunities in the technology space, but the IT sales sphere isn’t as simple to break into.
How to get into IT sales
IT sales simply requires more technical skill, making it harder to break into than tech sales alone. Since IT salespeople provide additional consulting after the sale goes through, they need to fully understand how each product works and be able to explain its use to other people.
Having a background in electronics or software development is preferable for highly technical roles. However, similar to technology sales, there are ways to get your foot in the door without this type of expertise.
Internships and demos can be great ways to learn the details about each product and prove your motivation toward getting a job in IT sales. Keep in mind that this line of work requires an innate appreciation for technology. So if you’re the kind of person who gets flustered by tech issues easily, IT sales might not be the best trajectory for you.
If you’re looking to get into tech or IT sales, one of the most powerful ways to get started is to become familiar with a simple CRM like Zendesk Sell—an essential tool used by sales teams. Request a demo of Zendesk Sell today.
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