How to Break Into Tech Sales + Tips to Succeed
With the tech industry already exceeding a value of $5 trillion this year, it’s obvious that tech sales is a lucrative career path for salespeople who can develop the right skills and mindset.
And, although many (mistakenly) believe that the only way to sell tech is to sell SaaS products, there are actually many different subfields within the tech sales industry.
Salespeople of many different backgrounds and experience levels have the potential to launch a career in tech sales.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to break into tech sales, including the day-to-day responsibilities of the role, the skills you’ll need to demonstrate to be successful, and some tips and tricks for getting hired for a tech sales role.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What Is Tech Sales?
- Benefits of a Career in Tech Sales
- IT Sales vs. Technology Sales
- What Does a Tech Salesperson Do?
- What Skills Do You Need in Tech Sales?
- Tips for Getting a Job in Tech Sales
What Is Tech Sales?
Tech sales is the process of creating and selling technical solutions that solve specific buyer challenges or problems.
Tech sales is most often associated with software as a service (SaaS), but can also include sales of other software products, hardware products that run software, or tech/IT services. As shown above, the following is just a short list of some of the many different products or services that tech sales reps may sell:
- Accounting software
- CRM software
- Email automation software
- Lead enrichment software
- Sales engagement software
- Document-signing software
- Desktop computers
- Laptop computers
- Tech or IT consulting services
There are job opportunities for sales reps in both B2C and B2B tech sales.
B2B tech sales is heavily focused on finding customers comprehensive solutions to complex problems. It’s about selling a package and providing accompanying support that will have a measurable impact on the buyer’s business.
The tech sales process revolves around solving problems — not selling products.
Because of this, a sales rep working in tech sales needs to be very effective at building relationships. The tech sales rep’s job is to show the buyer the long-term value of their solution while also creating the urgency needed in real-time to close the deal efficiently.Close deals fasterSource new business, automate outreach, and track buyer engagement
Benefits of a Career in Tech Sales
There are many reasons why someone might want to start a career in tech sales — or, switch into the field after other kinds of sales experience. Let’s take a closer look at why some of these reasons are so compelling.
One of the main reasons people pursue a career in tech sales is the compensation.
The average salary of a tech salesperson is $84k, higher than nearly 40% of the country. And there’s plenty of upside from there — with commission, bonuses, and other perks, compensation can easily exceed six figures, even for those with comparably “less” experience.
Because technology is a field that’s constantly expanding and evolving, there’s plenty of room to grow in a tech sales career. And tech salespeople are afforded lots of opportunities to network with professionals from a wide variety of impactful and profitable industries.
A career in sales tech can be very professionally exciting and offer incredible opportunities to grow and branch out.
Most tech sales jobs will allow you to work remotely, and many also allow flexible hours. On the flip side, some tech sales jobs also include travel (for those that might consider paid travel a “perk” of a job).
One of the really cool things about a job in tech sales is that it opens up opportunities for sales reps to become extremely technically literate.
Tech sales reps often have access to some of the most cutting-edge technology before it even hits the market and can be responsible for helping massive, multi-million dollar companies find very expensive solutions to very expensive problems.
Anyone who puts in the work in a tech sales role is virtually guaranteed to develop a varied arsenal of personal and professional skills through the course of mastering their career.
Technology sales is a very stable industry. That’s because technology in general is the second-largest in the U.S., second only to healthcare.
In fact, the U.S. tech industry accounts for 35% of the world’s market.
And with over 1.3 million new tech startups being created every year, there’s no end in sight to the number of tech sales opportunities available to sales reps of all backgrounds and experience levels.
IT Sales vs. Technology Sales
Although the two terms sound very similar, there’s actually a significant difference between IT sales vs. technology sales.
Both sales roles task the sales rep with finding hardware and/or software solutions to fit the needs of a buyer’s specific problem.
But while tech sales focuses on designing and deploying a solution, IT sales focuses on supporting the buyer through their technology integration — even and, in fact, especially after the sale is complete.
Another way to think of it is like this: tech sales ensures that the product or service is a great fit for the customer before they commit; IT sales makes sure that the technology is serving the buyer after it’s integrated.
What Does a Tech Salesperson Do?
Tech salespeople are responsible for many of the same tasks and responsibilities as other types of salespeople. They:
- Generate new leads via cold calls and cold emails
- Qualify prospects
- Run demos
- Follow up
- Track, analyze, and report on sales data, including managing the CRM system
- Talk with buyers to learn more about their needs and answer any questions they have
- Create personalized solution packages
- Prepare contracts and sales invoices
In addition to all of these expectations, tech sales reps also need to be extremely familiar with the product or service they sell. They need to be fluent with the user interface (UI) during demos, and need excellent written and verbal technological communication skills.
They need to be able to explain sometimes complicated technology features to people who, most likely, don’t know that much about complicated technology.
In other words, tech sales reps need to not only understand the technology themselves, but also how to distill the key points to someone who may benefit from the product but doesn’t necessarily know it due to lack of understanding.
Tech sales reps also need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to market research. Because tech is a field that’s constantly changing, it’s important that tech sales reps are in-the-know about advancements in the market, and remain consistently able to demonstrate their product’s value as it compares to the competition in a changing market.
What Skills Do You Need in Tech Sales?
Many of the most important skills for tech sales are the same that are critical for sales in general — with a couple of notable additions.
Perhaps the most important skill any salesperson can master is their communication. Sales reps — especially tech sales reps — need to have excellent written and verbal communication.
As noted earlier, tech sales reps need to be able to synthesize very complicated information into simple, easy-to-digest formats so that buyers can get the most out of their purchases.
Storytelling can be an especially valuable communication tool that tech salespeople should practice. Human beings are hard-wired to connect to stories.
Using storytelling can help tech sales reps make dry, complex, and otherwise technical product features and benefits more relatable for buyers.
Tech sales reps need to be able to hear and fully understand prospects’ concerns in order to create the best solution for them.
One of the best ways to get the most out of a sales conversation is by using active listening strategies. Some of these things may seem obvious to the point of sounding silly — of course, you should be attentive during sales conversations — but it’s important to really dial into each of these skills and ensure they’re a significant part of each of your sales conversations.
According to a LinkedIn survey of tens of thousands of buyers, active listening is the most highly valued trait in salespeople.
Knowledge of Modern Sales Methodologies
Tech sales reps should be well-versed in at least a couple of the more modern sales methodologies, such as solution selling or gap selling.
Some of the more traditional sales methods, or ones that have been around for a longer period of time, may not take into account the needs of today’s tech buyers.
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This should hopefully go without saying, but tech sellers need to be unintimidated by new technology and very comfortable both explaining features and troubleshooting when things go wrong.
Most hiring managers expect experience and comfortability with CRM systems (Salesforce is probably the most popular).
Time and Task Management
Even traditional sales rep jobs are busy, but tech sales jobs are even more fast-paced and layered.
Tech sales reps need to be able to juggle many moving pieces within the sales funnel while simultaneously identifying new opportunities to grow the sales pipeline.
Tips for Getting a Job in Tech Sales
It can be somewhat challenging to break into tech sales, especially if you’re coming from a different industry. But don’t let that discourage you — most people can actually become very successful in the role, if they manage to land a job in the field.
The following tips will help you successfully navigate the interview and hiring process for a job in tech sales.
Become Familiar With the Bare Minimum
If you’re really brand new to sales, make sure you’re at least moderately comfortable with basic business tech. You should be fluent in a business email platform like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail.
It’s also a good idea to be able to do the basics within a CRM system; Salesforce is a safe bet for this practice.
Get your hands on some recently-acclaimed sales books, and start learning as much as you can about how to reach the 21st-century buyer.
Listen to what successful tech sellers say that they’re tuning into — podcasts or newsletters? Books? Find out what the good ones are studying, and do that, too.
Great tech sellers are also great networkers. If you can, find yourself a mentor in the tech sales field who will guide you through the process of finding a tech sales job appropriate for your level of experience.
A great sales mentor will not only help you navigate the ins and outs of your internal job performance, but they’ll also help you make valuable connections outside of your current organization.
Find Unique Ways to Tell Your Story
One of the “hidden skills” of a great tech seller is that they make complex technology seem easy to understand. They do this by being extremely relatable.
You can improve your reliability skills by practicing storytelling. Identify and rehearse a small handful of stories that help distill a complicated topic into something that people can latch onto.
These stories don’t necessarily have to be tech-related — at least not all of them. But a well-timed and well-told story about something non-technical but hard to grasp can give you an edge in the interview process.
What is your experience with tech sales? What are your next steps for entering the industry?
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