From engineering to sales

I get emails from engineers for two main reasons. They either ask how to make the switch from engineering to sales, or they ask me why anyone would want to move from being an engineer to a salesman.

To address the second question, I’ve created a list of six reasons you might want to jump to the dark side of sales. I’d appreciate any additions that you could make to the list in the comments section.

Drum roll please…..

  1. Money – As a whole, the sales profession is the highest paying career out there. Of course your individual circumstance may vary, but it is a surveyed fact that sales positions out-pay engineering.
  2. New challenges – Perhaps, you’ve mastered your technical domain and just want to move onto a new challenge. Instead of toiling over equations, you want to try wrestling with prospects to get them to buy your product or service. There is something exciting about learning a completely new field and stepping out of your comfort range.
  3. Travel – If you like traveling, there are few other professions that offer the breath of opportunities than sales. If you don’t like being hunched over your computer in the middle of cube-ville, you might want to dip your toe in sales.
  4. Product knowledge – No one knows the technical aspects of your products better than you, so why should you let a salesperson who knows next to nothing about your wonders make all the money?
  5. Build a bigger network – In sales, you’ll get to talk to countless more people than you will in engineering. After a few years, you can put this network to use for professional and personal motives.
  6. Visibility to the bigger picture – A lot of times we lose sight of the forest for the trees when we’re hunkered down on a technical problem. Being in sales, allows you to see your company from a client’s point of view. You can add real value to your firm by translating that viewpoint back to engineering – this is something that run-of-the-mill salespeople aren’t typically that good at.

To see what you think, ask you sales person if you can tag along on a few sales calls – but let them know that you won’t talk unless specifically instructed to (many sales people are fearful of taking engineers on sales calls because we’re too honest).

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4 comments ↓

#1 Achinta Mitra on 09.11.08 at 10:48 am

Eric,

This is a very good list. I would like to add “Satisfaction of Finding Solutions to Different Challenges.” You get to use your technical knowledge and expertise to come up with solutions to a variety of problems that you may never become aware of working as an engineer assigned to a specific task. There is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing your solutions produce real results and people pay you good money for them.

Achinta Mitra

#2 Eric on 09.11.08 at 11:02 am

Thanks Achinta,

Maybe we should shoot for a drum roll top ten list of why engineers should move into sales positions.

#3 Mark on 03.22.11 at 5:00 pm

This is a good list. I am currently a medical service engineer and an opertunity has arrisen to move into medical device sales. I have applied and been given a date for my interview. I like the challenge fo being out of my comfort zone and the money that sales will bring. I have been a service engineer for nearly 13yrs. My main worry is that a sales job is not as safe as an engineers job. Plus I have been promised career progression within my engineering role, but this Is current on hold until i have made up my mind on wether i want to go into sales or progress my career in service. Any advice will be most welcome.

#4 Why I considered shifting my career from engineering to sales | From Technical To Commercial on 04.01.14 at 9:11 am

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