Tech Sales Career Path – Ultimate Guide

Written by Troy Buckholdt

 

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Technology Sales Career Path

Are you wondering what the tech sales career path looks like? Well, Tech Sales / Software Sales has one of the best career paths available for an entry-level rep.

There are tons of growth opportunities and your growth isn’t limited by how long you spent in the industry or what kind of degree you have, if you even have one at all. The main qualification companies look for when promoting people in tech sales is your results.

If you are just plain good and know what you’re doing, then doors will open faster than you can walk through them. This is the ultimate guide for your tech sales career path!

In this guide, you will learn exactly what the career path in tech sales looks like by starting as a sales development rep.

Tech Sales Career Path
Above is a great infographic I put together that shows all of the career options someone has by starting as an entry-level sales development rep.

How Tech Sales Teams are Structured

Before diving right in, it’s important to understand how a standard tech sales team is structured so you know what your most likely career path will look like.

A standard tech sales team is split into three main functions. Sales Development Rep – Account Executive – Customer Success. This is also known as splitting up the sales cycle.

What this means is that the sales development rep is the first person to interact with a prospect. They are in charge of qualifying the prospect to see if they’re a good fit to purchase then passing the prospect onto the account executive to have a meeting.

The account executive then has this meeting with the prospect and does their presentation. They also do the follow-up steps and ultimately close the deal. Once the deal has been closed then they will be assigned a customer success rep or have access to a pool of customer success reps.

The customer success rep is in charge of making sure this customer that just bought your product or service is going to be able to successfully implement and use it. Their overall job is to make the customer as successful as possible with their product with hopes of them staying as a customer, upgrading to their other products, and referring other people they know.

Hopefully, that explains the main distinctions between the three roles in a tech sales team.

Sales Development Rep

Now the sales development rep is the main entry point into a career in tech sales. You would find that nearly all of the account executives working in tech sales started out as a sales development rep (SDR or BDR) at some point. This is usually an entry-level position that requires very limited sales or work experience. What we do here at CourseCareers is train people online in tech sales and get them connected with a sales development internship to start their career without requiring any previous work experience or a degree.

The sales development rep is such a critical role since all of the companies sales depend on the sales development reps. Without good sales development reps, there would be no prospects for the account executives to close and no customers for the customer success reps to help.

Other than the sales development rep being such an important job for a tech sales team, it’s also the largest part of the sales team. Usually, there will be multiple sales development reps for every account executive and customer success rep at a company. This means companies need to hire a bunch of sales development reps at their company which explains why at the time of this writing there are currently over 400,000 available positions in sales development.

By starting out as a sales development rep you learn the foundational sales skills, communications skills, product knowledge, etc. These skills and knowledge are what make you such a good candidate to move into all of these other positions within the company.

Account Executive

The majority of sales development reps will move directly into an account executive position from a sales development rep within 12-24 months of working as an SDR. This is the most popular move since all of the sales skills you learn are directly applicable for becoming an account executive.

As an account executive you will become the person running the meeting and closing the deals. This promotion from an SDR can usually allow you to double your salary from about $60,000 a year to $120,000 a year. So, the huge salary increase is another reason why most sales development reps opt to transition into an account executive from a sales development rep.

There are many people who never leave being account executives as they can make huge amounts of money if they’re selling to large companies. These types of account executives are also known as enterprise account executives. It’s not uncommon to find people who have been working as enterprise account executives for 20+ years and are making $300,00+ or even $500,000+ a year.

Sales Management

Another great career option for people who don’t want to stay as an account executive is to move into sales management. Many times as a sales development rep you can move into a team lead and then into a sales development manager.

You can also work as an account executive and get promoted into an account executive manager or transition into a sales development manager.

As a manager, you will be responsible for the hiring, training, and overall success of your sales team. Their results = your results. Your job is to grow your team into a high-functioning sales machine.

Once in management, you can work your way up from manager all the way to the VP of sales and even become the CEO.

Customer Success

If your working as a sales development rep and realize that you don’t like the pressure of sales, then a very logical move would be the transition into a customer success rep. Companies love to transition their sales development reps into customer success reps since they’ve already learned all the foundation skills they need to be successful as a customer success rep.

This job usually won’t pay too much better than a sales development rep, but it is much less stressful since you’re not held to a quota. This career path is great for someone who prioritizes work-life balance over pay.

Sales Enablement

Are you a very analytical or process-oriented person? You might also have the option to transition into a sales enablement manager.

The job of the sales enablement manager is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales team through process improvements, technology improvements, and training.

Your job is to identify opportunities to generate more sales by finding gaps in the sales process. This requires you to measure every all of the activities your sales team is doing and figure out what messaging works best, where you can reduce wasted time, etc.

This is a really great career option for someone that loves improving things. While working as a sales development rep, if you find that you enjoy improving your sales effectiveness more than actually selling, then this could be a really great career option for you.

Human Resources Recruiter

Another career option that sales development reps have is to move into recruiting. This is when you’re selling a job to people instead of a product or service.

Many of the same skills you learned as a sales development rep transfer over to being a recruiter. You still have to do all of the outbound work such as emailing and messaging potential candidates. You also have to get on the phone and qualify those candidates just like you would be qualifying prospects.

If you’re working for a fast-growing company, then they will have the need to hire some recruiters to help grow their team. This will often open up the opportunity for current sales development reps to make the transition into a recruiter.

The pay will likely be very similar to what you made as an SDR, but it might be less stressful and put you on a different career path through human resources management.

Market Research

Have you ever wondered how technology products get developed? How do the engineers know what to build and what customers want?

This is where the market research team comes into play. They are in charge of talking with current customers and getting feedback from the sales team to help improve and expand the current technology offerings the company has.

The reason you’re able to transition from a sales development rep into a market research manager is because you’ve already learned what prospects want when you’re pitching them as an SDR while also knowing what capabilities your product currently has.

You’ve even developed the necessary communication skills to ask great questions to current customers and your sales team to learn how your product could be improved. This sets you up to transition into a market research manager putting you on a marketing or product career path. The pay will usually be similar to what you made as an SDR.

Understand The Tech Sales Career Path?

Do you understand what a tech sales career path looks like now? If not, then you can go through our free introduction course where we teach you in-depth about all of these different career options and exactly how you can start your career as a sales development rep.

Click here to go through our free introduction course.

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