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What Are the Different Types of Sales Engineer Jobs?

M.J. Casey
M.J. Casey

A sales engineer combines two different perspectives to accomplish a job critical to his employer and his client. Sales engineer jobs have three basic functions: to convey technical knowledge, understand the client’s needs, and make or sustain the sale. A technical education and training, communication skills, and the ability to work with coworkers and others qualify candidates for these jobs.

Sales engineer jobs vary by employer. Manufacturing reps are agents that do not work for the maker of the products or services they sell, but instead represent a line of products that work together to provide a system solution for their client. These people are usually paid a percentage of their sales volume. Skill sets include an entrepreneurial mindset, as they must scramble for quality, cost-effective products to represent, and customers to buy those products. Sometimes the relationship approaches that of a broker.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

At the other end of the spectrum are sales engineer jobs where the engineer’s main responsibility is to ensure the safe and effective operation of the sold goods or services. Often these engineers work in their customer’s facilities so that they are always available to support the customer. They are usually salaried employees. Successful people recognize they are advocates for their customer.

Other sales engineer jobs may be described as in between the previous two. In these jobs, the engineer will be very well informed regarding the technology behind her products, but also will be familiar with competing products and their relative merits. Her pay is often on commission, with a base salary. People holding these jobs are somewhat independent. They are often field based so that they are readily available to their customers.

High-level sales engineer jobs are found in the upper management of engineering and technical firms. These well-paid executives often receive bonuses based on the work they bring into the company. While they possess solid engineering knowledge, their days are consumed with understanding the competition, the marketplace, and the strong points of their competitors and their own company.

The term engineer may be applied when the position is better described as a technician or assistant. Sales engineer is a frequent title for those who solicit work on a per-order basis, such as a representative for a roofing company. Most sales engineer jobs require at least an undergraduate degree, experience in the field, and often a few years with the company or a competitive firm.

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