I.T. sales professionals handle the sale of software, hardware and I.T. services to (mainly) commercial clients. The I.T. sales cycle includes three primary stages:
– Technical support.
Consequently, the I.T. sales professional has more than one string to their bow.
Pre-sales is all about pitching technical proposals to clients. This stage is all about clarifying product details or service specifications and explaining the benefits they will offer. You may even be required to carry out practical demonstrations of the applications or equipment that you’re selling.
The second stage (sales) involves negotiations around pricing and other contractual terms, e.g. installation, warranties, etc. Once a sale is finalised, the I.T. sales professional will provide user guidance and training, technical support, system maintenance, repairs and product replacements in accordance with agreed warranties.
Further activities include the preparation and renewal of service agreements, administering system and hardware updates, and advising clients on new and existing enterprise solutions.
An I.T. sales professional’s core job objective is to maintain a balance between achieving sales and revenue targets, while also ensuring that customer expectations on cost, functionality and quality are met.
Other activities for I.T. sales professionals include: keeping up-to-date with trends and developments in the I.T. industry; generating new business leads through networking and promotional activities; and updating their technical knowledge and skills on a regular basis.
Salary & benefits
I.T. sales professionals in the early stages of their careers can earn basic salaries between £15,000 and £30,000, while employees with more experience can expect basic salaries of £30,000 to £70,000.
Performance-based bonuses and incentives for meeting and exceeding sales targets are common, i.e. monthly or quarterly commission payments, company cars, laptops and mobile phones.
The work is mainly office-based, but occasionally involves travelling to clients’ offices. Generally, you’ll be required to work a standard nine-to-five day, but you may also be required to put in some extra hours for business-related socialising and attending professional networking events.
Flexibility with regards to relocation may be essential for career progression. Experienced I.T. sales professionals often cover large geographical areas, including overseas territories and, therefore, you may be required to move around a lot.
Some people also focus their efforts on selling specific products and product groups in large and multinational companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Oracle.
By no means do you need a degree to work in this area. However, an undergraduate degree or diploma in a technical subject, such as software engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, hardware engineering or electronic engineering may be preferred for some highly-technical roles.
High levels of commercial awareness and prior experience of sales, marketing and customer service are also required by most employers.
Training & progression
Standard entry-level training tends to involve a mixture of company orientation sessions and on-the-job technical skills training. You may also be required to shadow experienced colleagues when they’re making sales calls.
I.T. sales professionals may also be required to complete relevant technical certifications, depending on the company’s product suite and job requirements.
In some instances, employers may also require employees to complete professional qualifications offered by the Chartered Institute for I.T. and the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM).
Career progression typically involves moving into a position where you’ll be managing sales teams, adopting responsibility for a larger region, or specialising in the sale of niche products and services.
Other alternatives include moving into technical roles. For instance, you could become a system analyst or technical support officer. Alternatively, you could shift your focus from technical sales to other areas, such as FMCG or retail.