IT Technical Sales Specialist

The Job and What's Involved

An IT technical sales specialist is involved in selling hardware and software products produced by IT companies and software houses. They usually work alongside a sales team and may be referred to as a pre-sales specialist or consultant.

They act as the technical experts when their company is trying to sell a product or service. This allows the sales team to concentrate on identifying and securing new business opportunities. In some smaller IT companies or software houses these roles can be combined.

Following an initial sales meeting, the technical sales specialist is introduced to the client. Their role is to determine what the client's business requirements are and if the product or service on offer is suitable. This can include finding out if it is necessary to adapt their software or hardware to meet the client's needs. They also answer any technical questions the client might have.

The technical sales specialist then presents their findings to a technical team who act on any recommendations. Once any necessary refinements are made, the technical sales specialist presents the finalised product or service to the client. Presentations are a vital aspect of the sales process as they show non-technical people what the product can do.

Once the product or service has been sold, the role of the IT technical sales specialist ends. A post-sales specialist manages the implementation, any training requirements and aftercare support, and a sales account manager is responsible for further developing the relationship with the client. However, in some smaller IT companies or software houses, the technical sales specialist will be responsible for all of these aspects.

Some technical sales specialists concentrate on a particular area of technology, while others have a broader technical role. The products or services they deal with vary depending on the particular IT company or software house. For example, they may specialise in financial software for making a banking system more efficient, or new hardware to upgrade an outdated network.

Technical sales specialists usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. They may be required to work longer hours at busy times. Flexible or part-time work may be possible.

They are normally based in an office, although some may work from home. Some technical sales specialists look after a geographical sales area, visiting clients and helping to build up business.

The role requires a lot of travel and a driving licence is highly desirable. Business dress is normally expected for meeting clients.

An IT technical sales specialist may start on around £20,000 a year. Depending on the employer, technical sales specialists may receive bonuses or commission based on their sales. A company car or car allowance, mobile phone and laptop may also be included as part of a salary package.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The IT industry is a rapidly expanding global marketplace, and there are currently over one million staff working in the sector. There are job opportunities with IT companies and software houses throughout the UK, with a higher concentration in the South East.

Vacancies are advertised on company and recruitment websites, and in trade publications such as Computer Weekly and Computing. The local and national press also advertise positions.

Education and Training

Applicants for IT technical sales specialist roles are usually educated to degree level, possibly with relevant work experience and vocational skills.

Employers consider applicants from degree courses such as computer science, maths and physics, as well graduates with business, arts and humanities degrees with a flair for problem solving in a logical manner. More specific degree subjects include IT, computing, programming and software engineering.

Entry to a computing degree is usually with a minimum of two A levels/three H grades, often including maths or physics, and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent. Courses last three or four years full time, or four or five years for sandwich courses. Candidates should check with individual institutions for specific grade and/or subject requirements.

There are a range of other qualifications which provide a good grounding in IT. These include:

BTEC/SQA National Diploma/Certificate in Computer Studies, IT or Networking. Applicants typically need four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent qualifications.

BTEC/SQA higher national diplomas. Colleges normally ask for one A level/two H grades and four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or a BTEC/SQA national certificate/diploma in a relevant subject.

City & Guilds Higher Professional Diploma in Information Management using ICT, Level 4.

Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) BSc. This new degree course combines a BSc honours degree with learning, teaching and assessment methodologies designed in partnership with major IT companies.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is on the job, and includes in-house and external training courses.

As the IT industry continues to develop, it is vital for technical sales specialists to keep up to date with new technologies. Professional qualifications can be obtained from various professional bodies, including the British Computer Society (BCS). A number of private sector companies also offer training courses and computing qualifications.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A technical sales specialist should:

  • Have excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Have strong selling skills.
  • Have strong IT technical knowledge.
  • Be able to use their initiative.
  • Be able to give presentations.
  • Be able to interpret technical language for non-technical personnel.
  • Be able to write reports and proposals.
  • Work well on their own or in a team.
  • Have negotiation skills.
  • Be able to manage their time and plan their day effectively.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, IT technical sales specialists may move into a more senior role. They may choose to specialise in a technical, hands-on role or move into people, team or sales management. The career structure varies from one organisation to another.

Experienced technical sales specialists may also use their business experience and technical knowledge to work as an IT consultant. They may also move into lecturing, training or post-sales. It is possible to become self-employed and work as a contractor.

Get Further Information

British Computer Society (BCS),
1st Floor, Block D, North Star House,
North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA
Tel: 01793 417417
Website: www.bcs.org

e-skills UK, 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR
Tel: 020 7963 8920
Website: www.e-skills.com

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