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What is a Sales Engineer


What is Sales Engineering? 

Sales engineers operate across a wide range of industries, visiting clients and customers wherever they’re based, to meet their product or service needs. Businesses are always eager to hire quick-thinking, technically minded salespeople who can explain the latest advances to busy customers; if that sounds like you, a career in sales engineering might be perfect. 

As a sales engineer you’ll be working with customers to translate complex technical ideas into language that they can understand. You could be collaborating with engineering teams, contractors, designers or architects, depending on your industry segment. What they all have in common is that they rely on a well-informed sales engineer to offer solutions and give technical advice. 

This is very much a ‘hands-on’ job that will require you to roll up your sleeves. You’ll be demonstrating a variety of pioneering products, selling state-of-the-art software, support services or the benefits of aftercare packages - and quite possibly a combination of all of these. 

Here’s an outline of what the role of a sales engineer entails and what they can expect to find themselves tasked with: 

  • Creating presentations that explain the technical and scientific purpose and features of a product 
  • Consulting with prospective (and existing) customers about their requirements 
  • Working with the sales team to understand customer problems and how relevant products might solve them 
  • Liaising with customers and the product development team to adjust the equipment specs and address pain points 

There are areas of overlap with the job of a sales representative, but the need for significant technical knowledge is what makes sales engineering a specialized position.  

This is a role which bridges areas of sales, marketing and product development: sales engineers are often the drivers for the introduction of new products to the marketplace. 


What Does a Sales Engineer Do? 

Sales engineers specialize in proposal writing, training in product use and offering technical support to customers. It is just as much about building relationships and simplifying complex technical language and ideas for non-subject matter experts, as it is helping customers find innovative and cost-efficient solutions to their problems. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the role - and how to develop a career in this rewarding field. 

Skills and Qualifications 

Technical sales can be a rewarding career for those with sales and technical skills and the relevant degree. A master's degree is also a valuable addition to your resumé. You may also need certification, and that takes study too. Certification standards vary by region, but in the US a few important ones include: 

  • Certified Sales Engineer (CSE) via the North American Association of Sales Engineering (NAASE) 
  • SMEI Certified Professional Salesperson (SCPS) from Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI) 
  • Certified Professional Salesperson (CPSP) certification, available from the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) 

In addition, Professional Engineer (PE) is a commonly recognized standard, as is PMP – Project Management Professional. 

Here’s a breakdown of the skills you need to show: 

  • As the on-field lead, you’ll need project management skills aplenty. Keeping everything on track, and lines of communication open will be central. 
  • Research and analysis form a huge part of the responsibilities as Sales Engineers, along with the translation of tech jargon into comprehensible English for non-subject experts. You’re selling to people who want to fix a problem, not understand every detail of the production. 
  • You should be adept at documenting products and service details, tailoring your material to emphasize the benefits to each prospect. 
  • Communication and public speaking skills. Confidence in addressing groups is useful, and being knowledgeable and open about the benefits inspires trust and confidence in any audience, no matter how large. 
  • You’ll need a cool head and a keen eye as pain points materialize mid-project, so problem-solving skills will help you navigate these when they arise. 

A Career Path and Growth Opportunities 

It’s worth highlighting there’s no single sales engineer career path, but whatever twists and turns people take to a role in sales engineering, most paths progress along these lines… 

Pick your Industry

There’s a variety of industries where sales engineering jobs can be found, so do your research and work out which field or specialty you’re interested in. There’s construction and manufacturing, but also telecoms and the computer science industries. It’s worth looking at specific businesses and prioritizing them. 

Get a Degree

Many sales engineers have degrees in civil, mechanical or electrical engineering, computer sciences or a related technical field. While it’s possible to become a sales engineer without one of these degrees, having one will ease your passage. 

Get Certified

Obtaining certifications related to sales engineering can help you reach your career objectives. Some potential certifications are listed above. 

Gain Experience

While you’re working toward certification, connect with contacts you’ve made. Explain that you’re looking to gain experience working with the kind of products you want to sell, and people are usually willing to help (it’s here that those people skills can really pay off!). 

Career Progress 

If you’ve not come into your role with a masters, some employers will encourage you to undertake one. Further study in technical or business-related subjects might also feature. 

Once you’re established, the options will begin to open up. 

You can remain in the same field, which may bring a higher salary and improved benefits, or move into a managerial role. If you feel like you’ve exhausted your enthusiasm for a specialism, there’s often potential to move into related fields, such as pure product development, R&D or technical marketing. 

The role of the sales engineer at Hilti 

As a sales engineer at Hilti, you’ll get to know the construction products and services we offer from every angle, partnering with customers to uncover their technical challenges and becoming their best partner for productivity, safety, and sustainability. You’ll be supported with frequent feedback and encouraged to achieve your goals while helping customers achieve theirs. 

Our sales engineers provide technical support and drive the sales of specified products to our salesforce and customers (buying and non-buying) consistent with our strategy while also educating design communities concerning proper use and advantages of Hilti fastening and protection products. 

Whether you’re an experienced sales engineer or only have a couple years under your belt, Hilti is always looking for individuals who have a strong technical aptitude, a passion for problem-solving and a desire to build relationships with customers.

If that sounds like it could be you, search for sales engineering roles now.  


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