How to Get into Tech Sales

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about how to get your career started in tech sales, including the different tech sales positions, skill requirements, and potential career paths.

[Featured image] A tech salesperson shaking hands with a client in an office after just closing a deal.

If you’re a good communicator, excel in relationship building, and possess strong technical knowledge, a career in tech sales could be right for you. Sales can be a great career option with several benefits to consider. From the high earning potential and demand for salespeople to the opportunities for advancement, sales is an avenue for building a successful career.

Whether you’re looking to transition into tech sales from a different sales position or considering entering sales for the first time, this article will share how to meet all the requirements and develop the necessary skills.

Read more: Getting a Remote Sales Job: Your Guide

What is tech sales?

Tech sales involves selling technological components. The goal is to help clients solve problems and improve their operations by providing a better understanding of how to utilize the technology. Generally, as a tech sales representative, your product offering will fall into one of three categories: hardware, software, or IT services. 

Hardware sales involve selling physical components, such as computers. In contrast, software sales, or software as a service (SaaS), refers to selling software programs that the client can install directly on their device. IT services differ from hardware and software sales in that you provide troubleshooting services for organizations that don’t have an in-house IT department.

Read more: What Is Sales Analytics and How Does It Benefit My Business?

4 tech sales careers 

Within tech sales, you can find various positions. What differentiates these positions is where and when they play a role in the sales process, whether identifying potential clients or closing deals with clients. You can also find tech sales positions where your technical responsibilities are especially relevant, as you will be the main resource for clients with questions about the tech. Here’s a look at some common tech sales positions and their responsibilities.

1. Sales development representative

Average base salary (US): $60,696 [1]

The sales development representative, or SDR, is generally an entry-level position. In this role, your main focus is finding prospective clients as the first point of contact and setting up future meetings for the sales team to build the relationship further and work toward a deal.

Read more: What Is a Sales Development Representative? And How to Become One

2. Account executive

Average base salary (US): $91,564 [2]

As an account executive, you will take the established leads and attempt to grow those relationships, ultimately turning leads into clients. In addition to closing new deals, you will work with existing accounts to find ways to continue providing value.

3. Sales engineer

Average base salary (US): $96,665 [3]

Sales engineering puts you in a unique position between the sales and development teams. In this role, you will perform research to assist in the development of products while also engaging with clients to provide support and properly explain technical components.

Read more: What Is a Sales Engineer? (And How to Become One)

4. Technical sales representative

Average base salary (US): $87,020 [4]

As a technical sales representative, you will sell technical equipment, whether hardware or software products. This means you need technical knowledge of these types of products and the ability to explain them to users, as well as the ability to understand customers' needs and find solutions.

Salary and job outlook

Working in tech sales means you can enhance your pay by earning sales commissions. Generally speaking, you will typically earn a percentage of the overall annual value of the deals you close to boost your income. 

In addition to the strong earning potential, sales jobs are generally in demand. For example, job opportunities for sales engineers are projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, which is above average compared to other fields [5].

How to get into tech sales

Working in tech sales comes with certain expectations, from a skill and experience standpoint to your education. Here’s a look at four important steps to take to qualify for this position.

Read more: Cybersecurity Sales Jobs: 8 Skills to Help Sell Yourself as a Candidate

Step 1: Complete a technical education.

While a degree isn’t always a formal requirement in tech sales, having a bachelor’s degree in an area such as computer science, information technology, or engineering is certainly an advantage since it is designed to help you gain the technical knowledge you will use on the job. Other bachelor’s degrees, such as business, are valuable for developing marketing and selling skills. 

Step 2: Gain sales experience.

If you have prior sales experience in a non-technical role, this can be a valuable asset when looking to transition into tech sales. Many of the skills you developed in other sales roles will carry over to tech sales. Experience also allows you to show employers you’ve succeeded in a sales role before.

Read more: 6 Entry-Level Sales Jobs + How to Get One

Step 3: Earn certifications.

Certifications are an effective way to supplement your resume and develop skills within specific areas, whether that’s a sales certification or tech certification. For example, you can earn a certification from the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) through the Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) program to learn about guiding customers through the entire sales process and effective communication skills. 

Step 4: Network.

To improve your chances of finding a tech sales job, you could focus on growing your network. You can reach out to recruiters or employees who work for companies you’re interested in so that you can learn more about the company while also developing valuable relationships. LinkedIn is one way to utilize your networking efforts and connect with new people.

Read more: 9 Networking Tips to Expand and Strengthen Your Network

Required skills for tech sales

Working in technical sales means you need to develop your selling ability and gain technical knowledge as well. Here are some of the key skills to develop:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) tools

  • Time management

  • Communication

  • Relationship development and interpersonal skills

  • Problem-solving

  • Technical product knowledge

  • Sales and marketing skills

  • Active listening

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Ability to handle rejection

Tech sales career path

The sales cycle involves a team working together to identify and close deals with clients. While you are likely to begin as a sales development representative, seeking out new leads for your team, with experience, you might find yourself with more opportunities for advancement. The natural progression from an SDR position can lead to job titles such as account executive, sales manager, sales director, or vice president of sales. 

Learn more with Coursera.

On Coursera, discover courses to help you prepare for a career in tech sales. Fundamentals of Technology Sales from the University of Maryland, College Park, can help you boost your knowledge of tech sales, from the sales process to specific skills to help you close sales.

Another option is Sales and CRM Overview from Salesforce. During this course, you can learn how to use customer relationship management tools to your advantage. Upon completing either program, gain a shareable Professional Certificate to include in your resume, CV, or LinkedIn profile.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How Much Does a Sales Development Representative Make?,,32.htm.” Accessed April 5, 2024.

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