Some people carry the misperception that all salespeople have pushy, overconfident, and extroverted personalities. Think of the stereotypical door-to-door salesman that the media has pushed for decades. These are the guys that don’t take “No” for an answer and continue to push their product or service until the customer eventually gives in.
Although there is some truth behind this stereotype, not all salespeople behave in this way. And most importantly, a sales engineer doesn’t have to be pushy or overconfident to have a successful career in technical sales. In fact, many customers are actually turned off by a technical sales engineer that comes across as too forceful and obtrusive.
The personality of a sales engineer does matter, but not necessarily in the way most people would assume. According to Sales Hacker, the top traits of most successful sales people actually include an upbeat personality, passion, creativity, and empathy. Ironically, what’s missing from this list? Being outgoing or extroverted. You don’t need match an outdated stereotype in order to be a successful technical sales engineer.
So What Is the Ideal Personality of a Technical Sales Engineer?
You Don’t Have to be the Most Outgoing Person in the Room.
First, you don’t have to be the most outgoing person in the room. You don’t have to be the guy who loves everybody and who everybody loves back. You don’t even have to love sales and or love selling. These are not pre-requisites for being a technical sales engineer. You may be sur-prised to read that, but it’s true. There are many successful technical sales engineers who aren’t extroverts.
You Have to be Willing to Get Into Uncomfortable Situations.
But if you want to be a technical sales engineer, you do have to be willing to get into uncomfortable situations. This is what’s important – and it’s not about how outgoing you can be.
Most technical sales engineers have an engineering degree or have an engineering mindset. But a majority of engineers are quiet, reserved, and used to working independently. Constantly having to talk to people, especially to people you’ve never met before, will probably make you uncomfortable if you’re like most engineers.
If you’re more like an engineer and you want to become a technical sales engineer, you need to overcome this mindset and be more willing to put yourself in these types of situations. Engineers have the potential to become great technical sales engineers, but they must be open to this type of discomfort. And it’ll happen. Eventually, after putting yourself in this type of situation over and over again, you’ll get used to it and it will become just another part of the job.
So you don’t have to be an extrovert to be in sales, but a stubborn introvert who just wants to keep to himself will not become a successful technical sales engineer. Again, you don’t have to be loud and outspoken, but you do need to have self-confidence and the ability to stay confident even when you’re feeling nervous. A technical sales engineer needs to be open and willing to talk to all types of people. After all, this job entails talking to people every day – whether it’s on the phone, through video calls, or face-to-face. That being said, there are red flags that you aren’t destines for engineering sales person status.
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If You Hate Talking to People, This is Not the Job For You.
This is a given in any sales-related job. Sales is about communicating clearly with peo-ple, learning about them, and finding out what they need. You can’t be uncomfortable while doing this. Your prospective clients will be able to sense your discomfort and will not want to work with you. They’ll look for someone else who is actually enjoying what they do.
Another important thing to remember is that sales is not all about the money. It’s true that technical sales engineers typically make a lot of money, but you can’t get into this field with just money in mind. This applies to any job you are considering, but especially technical sales. That’s because the sales cycle in this industry is longer than average and you’ll need to talk to many people along the way – from prospects to gatekeepers to key decision makers. You’ll also have to work closely with a sales team.
You need to both like and enjoy what you’re doing. You need to be excited to make those calls, set those meetings, and reach out to new prospects. If you dread each day because you hate talking to people, you’re better off finding something else.
Your Personality Does Matter in Technical Sales
But It’s Not a Huge Thing to Overcome (So Long as You’re Willing to Work Through Insecurities and the Fear of Rejection). This goes back to being willing to get into uncomfortable situations. Technical sales engineers will hear “No” over and over again. Rejection will be a part of life. You need to be able to overcome these uncomfortable moments.
The Sales Hacker list also includes being goal-oriented, well-prepared, and hungry to succeed. Again, nowhere on this list does it suggest that extroversion is a prerequisite for sales success. If you want to be a great technical sales engineer, focus on your goals and realize what your priorities are. Do you want to stay in your comfort zone or do you want to close that big sale? Would you rather stay an engineer and work alone or instead experience the joys of being part of a team and offering people the solutions they need? Answering these questions can help guide your career path and determine if technical sales is right for you.
Being in technical sales can be a fun and fulfilling job. Although it’s not for everyone, there’s great potential for people who are willing to get out of their comfort zone. When you focus on what’s most important in becoming a technical sales engineer – communicating well, building relationships, and being willing to work though the discomfort – success in this industry is absolutely attainable.
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