Similar Titles

Business Development Engineer, Inside Sales Engineer, Product Sales Engineer, Sales Applications Engineer, Sales Engineer, Technical Marketing Engineer, Technical Sales Engineer

Job Description

We’ve all heard of salespeople and we’re all aware that there are various forms of engineering. But what do you call engineers who sell things? As you might expect, they’re called Sales Engineers and it’s their job to market large, complex equipment, systems, and services to prospective buyers. For example, they may sell things such as “business management software, telecommunications devices, HVAC systems, energy products and manufacturing equipment,” per Indeed. 
As technical subject matter experts, they are also skilled in the art of Business-to-Business (B2B) sales, able to turn engineering jargon into understandable presentations that explain how their sophisticated products or services can solve the buyer’s business-related problems. They must have a thorough understanding of what they’re selling and be able to answer detailed questions as well as compellingly demonstrate benefits to less technical-oriented audiences. When they aren’t out selling, Sales Engineers stay busy doing marketing research and are often involved with the research and development of new products.  

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Learning about exciting new technological developments 
  • Helping to expand business’s capabilities by selling them relevant products or services
  • Facilitating deals that keep their employers in business, thus ensuring job stability for workers
2021 Employment
2031 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule
Sales Engineers generally work full-time and sometimes extra, when travel is necessary. Travel may frequently be out-of-town or even out-of-state, depending on how broad their assigned territory is. They must keep their schedules flexible so they can meet potential buyers when everyone is available. 

Typical Duties

  • Learn all the details about various products/services to be sold
  • Reply to proposals seeking industry-related technical solutions 
  • Write and prepare product demonstrations
  • Travel to visit prospective customers and meet to discuss needs related to products/services the Sales Engineer represents 
  • Deliver technical presentations to potential buyers and other interested parties
  • Explain various features, specifications, and benefits (such as cost savings or improved productivity) of products or services being marketed
  • Answer technical questions and offer compelling sales pitches to distinguish products/services from competitors 
  • Make recommendations and offer supporting stats and figures
  • Customize products/services when applicable 
  • Negotiate prices and contracts with buyers, then close the deals 
  • Ensure products/services are delivered (and installed, if needed) correctly and promptly
  • Arrange for troubleshooting when unexpected issues arise
  • Work with sales and technical support teams to ensure smooth transactions with follow-up services delivered per any agreements
  • Additional Responsibilities
  • Respond to emails, website contact forms, and phone calls 
  • Examine credit ratings of prospects 
  • Utilize customer relationship management tools  
  • Stay in touch with customers to promote and market new items or renew orders. Ensure customers have copies of catalogs or samples
  • Help clients solve any problems that may arise with installations
  • Capture data and generate reports and other documentation 
  • Train other Sales Engineers  
  • Attend trade shows, conferences, and training seminars
  • Maintain thorough sales documentation and records of travel and expenses
  • Keep up-to-date on new developments, products, and services 
  • Conduct market research and aid with the development of new products
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Accuracy
  • Active listening
  • Business acumen
  • Confidence 
  • Customer service 
  • Decisiveness
  • Detail-oriented
  • Email and phone etiquette 
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Flexibility 
  • Integrity
  • Patience
  • Persistence 
  • Persuasiveness 
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Social selling
  • Storytelling
  • Teamwork

Technical Skills

  • Calendaring
  • Familiarity with presentation software and materials
  • Familiarity with various types of business software, including business intelligence programs, cloud-based management, database management, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, financial analysis, spreadsheets, transaction security, and videoconferencing 
  • Technical expertise in the products and services being sold
Different Types of Organizations
  • Computer system design companies
  • Manufacturing
  • Telecommunications
  • Wholesalers
  • Other organizations and companies 
Expectations and Sacrifices

Companies that make large, highly-technical products or services rely on Sales Engineers to market what they produce. Without salespeople out there hustling every day, the manufacturers’ profits would tank, people would lose jobs, and ultimately the company might collapse. There’s a lot of responsibility riding on Sales Engineers, who must maintain expertise and proficiency with various products and services while traveling frequently and keeping up customer relationships. The extensive travel can be hard on families, plus there’s pressure to close deals in order to earn their commissions (which are a large part of their income). ~20% of a Sales Engineer’s pay comes from commissions. 

Current Trends

Technology has been advancing at an exponential rate for decades. It evolves so quickly in virtually every industry that Sales Engineers must stay on top of the changes and innovations to remain relevant in the field. Artificial intelligence (AI) in particular is speeding ahead so rapidly that scientists have begun seriously asking when it will be smart enough to outsmart people. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that “Employment growth is likely to be strong for sales engineers selling computer software and hardware. Strong industry growth is expected in computer systems design and related services.” 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...

Engineering and sales require such vastly different skill sets that most people lean towards one set far more than the other. It may be uncommon for young people to have the traits of both roles at the same time. Engineers usually have an aptitude for math and enjoy figuring out how things work and tinkering with physical objects. Future salespersons often have the “gift of gab” and love to talk, share ideas, and collaborate with others to get things done. They may have liked watching charismatic characters in TV shows or movies, or were perhaps influenced by extroverted relatives. 

Education and Training Needed
  • Sales Engineers generally have a bachelor’s in an engineering field
    • Common majors include computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, computer hardware engineering, and chemical engineering
  • Beyond STEM education, students must gain practical sales experience through sales-related jobs
  • Students can learn business and sales tactics in college through electives or a degree minor, but it’s hard to beat real-world experience
  • O*Net lists optional certifications that Sales Engineers can apply for, such as the Association for Manufacturing Technology’s Certified Manufacturing Technology Sales Engineer    
Things to look for in a program
  • Engineering college programs should be accredited by ABET, which is a requirement for later Professional Engineer licensure
  • Consider the cost of tuition, discounts, and local scholarship opportunities (in addition to federal aid)
  • Think about your schedule and flexibility when deciding whether to enroll in an on-campus, online, or hybrid program
  • Look for programs that offer business and marketing courses or minors
  • Review scholarship opportunities and STEM pathways
  • Consider the program’s faculty awards and accomplishments such as teaching awards, IEEE and National Science Foundation awards, Fulbright Fellowships, etc.
  • Check out their facilities (especially if you’re planning to attend in-person). Well-funded programs will have the most modern, cutting-edge research areas 
  • Look for affiliated centers and institutes. Most big programs collaborate with external partners which can significantly augment your learning experience
  • Review job placement stats and details about the program’s alumni network 
Things to do in High School and College
  • Sign up for plenty of math, science, engineering, and technology courses in high school
  • Study hard to prepare for the academic rigors of a college engineering program
  • Try to land a tech internship while in college
  • Take plenty of communications, English, writing, speech, debate, business, and marketing courses to prep for the sales side of things
  • Apply for part-time sales-related jobs to get real-world experience 
  • Polish your phone etiquette and powers of persuasion 
  • Volunteer to serve on school committees or help with extracurricular activities, with a focus on roles that offer leadership and management experiences
  • Take Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like the ones offered by edX or Udemy to polish up your sales and marketing skills 
  • Keep track of all your work and academic accomplishments for your resume and/or college applications 
  • Join professional organizations to network, learn, and have fun!
    • Comb through our below list of Recommended Websites to find professional groups to join. Also become an active participant in your school’s engineering clubs
  • Look at job posts early to see what skills and credentials are most in-demand 
  • Ask a seasoned engineer if they can mentor you in exchange for helping them in some capacity
  • Call a few manufacturers to ask if you could shadow a salesperson for a day
Typical Roadmap
Sales Engineer Gladeo Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • Sales Engineers with the right mix of education and experience can usually find work without too much hassle 
  • If you don’t have much sales experience, you might want to focus on landing a sales job first
    • Some Sales Engineers start out as Sales Development Representatives or Engineers. So one of those will be your first job. 
  • Know the sales lingo and best practices for finding leads, closing deals, and maintaining customer relationships
  • Make a profile on LinkedIn and other networking platforms
  • Scan portals like and Glassdoor for openings in your area
  • List quantifiable results (such as total dollar amounts of products sold) on your resume, when possible 
  • List all practical experience you have including internships
  • Stay connected to your professional network and ask for leads on upcoming job openings
  • Keep up-to-date on the latest developments related to the e[ngineering field you’re in
  • Ask previous professors and supervisors to write recommendation letters or request their consent (in advance) to list them as references
  • Do your research on potential employers. Learn what kind of products and services they manufacture or sell and who their target buyers are
  • During interviews, demonstrate a keen awareness of trends in the industry
  • Review Sales Engineer resume templates and sample interview questions  
  • Learn how to dress for interview success
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Never stop learning about your field of engineering, the products/services you’re selling, and advances in the industry
  • Focus any additional education and training on improving your ability to make sales for your employer
  • If there is a manufacturer-specific certification for the items you sell, get it!
  • Build your reputation as a subject matter expert who can impress clients 
  • Get on calls and keep your phone skills sharp 
  • If you have quotas, do your best to meet and exceed them
  • Keep learning all you can about advanced sales tactics, contract negotiation, prospecting leads, and making killer presentations
  • Watch or listen to demos as much as you can to stay fresh 
  • Work on proof of concepts that can help close deals
  • Treat everyone with respect, be on time and well-prepared for presentations, offer solutions, and stay focused on maintaining long-term customer relationships
  • Keep growing your professional network and making deep connections with major buyers
  • Stay active in professional engineering organizations, attend conferences and workshops, and offer to give lectures
Recommended Resources


  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology 
  • American Society for Engineering Education
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Association for High Technology Distribution 
  • IEEE 
  • Illuminating Engineering Society
  • International Society of Automation 
  • Manufacturers' Representatives Educational Research Foundation 
  • Manufacturers’ Agents National Association 
  • MIT OpenCourseWare
  • National Society of Professional Engineers 
  • National Society of Sales Engineers
  • North American Association of Sales Engineers
  • PreSales Collective
  • SAE International 
  • SE Leadership Institute
  • Society of Women Engineers 
  • Vertical Flight Society
  • We The Sales Engineers


Plan B

Being an engineer is hard work. So is being a salesperson. But a Sales Engineer? Now that’s a challenging career choice! The benefits can be extraordinary and the compensation lucrative at times, but if you want to explore more career options, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following paths to consider: 

  •  Aerospace Engineers    
  • Computer Hardware Engineers    
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineers    
  • Industrial Engineers    
  • Insurance Sales Agents    
  • Materials Engineers    
  • Mechanical Engineers    
  • Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents    
  • Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents    
  • Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives    

Click here to download the infographic


Online Courses and Tools