Comparing Common Tech Sales Job Titles

fun-couponsOur CEO Somen Mondal has put together a series of blogs addressing some of the most misunderstood job titles in today’s high-growth tech companies. This piece gives a high-level overview of three common titles for comparison.

A Common Career Path in High-growth Tech Sales:

  1. Business Development Representative
  2. Inside Sales Representative
  3. Outside Sales Representative
  4. Bonus: Sales Engineer

Plain English Definitions:

Business Development
This is a “hunter role” typically for new grads or salespeople with 1-3 years of experience. You will likely not close business in this role. Compensation is a mix of base + commission.

Inside Sales
People typically get into this role as a promotion from a business development rep or as a second sales job. Generally anywhere from 2-5 years of experience, but that’s a big generalization. In this role, you will close business. Compensation is a mix of base + commission.

Outside Sales
People typically get into this role as a promotion from an inside sales rep or as a second to third sales job. Anywhere from 4-7 years of experience. The main takeaway is that this role is not for someone inexperienced. This role is all about schmoozing, making personal relationships and closing big dollar deals. Compensation is a mix of base + commission or sometimes only commission. Usually the rep will have expenses such as cars, travel and client entertainment covered.

Sales Engineer

Think of sales engineers as a hybrid sales role. Just as the title suggests, Sales Engineers are a mix between a salesperson and an engineer. Sales engineers almost always have some sort of technical background and help a salesperson with web demos and discussing technical aspects of a product. Think of a sales engineer as a technical assistant for a salesperson. Compensation is typically base + bonus.

Salaries (Self-reported by employees on Glassdoor):

Note: There is a lot of salary variation within each role. These numbers tend to only reflect self-reported base salaries. Remember, the higher you “climb” in a company the more “perks” and commission you likely to receive. Perks can include anything from meal allowances to paid international travel.

Business Development Representative Salary
Inside Sales Representative Salary

Outside Sales Representative Salary

Sales Engineer Salary


Job Titles From An Employer’s Perspective:

Business Development Representative’s Purpose
You need to have a large sales team and inbound lead flow to sustain a team of BDRs.

Inside Sales Representative’s Purpose
High value ASP (average selling price) tech companies need outside sales reps to close a deal. These companies have very defined sales teams and a product that is mature. Outside salespeople are brought in to bring a tech company to the next level of success.

Outside Sales Representative’s Purpose
If you are a tech company selling big dollar deals (likely $100,000+), outside sales reps are still integral to your business. Think of the outside sales rep as the superheroes bringing in the multi-million dollar deals with the support of the other sales roles.

Sales Engineer’s Purpose

Sales engineers are an expensive resource to have and can sometimes create hurdles in the sales cycle. Hurdles include scheduling their time with the sales rep and just not being 100% familiar with the prospect. Sales engineers are required when the sale is highly technical and complicated. If you are selling security software for example, there might be a lot of extremely technical questions that a salesperson can’t answer alone. If the complexity and dollar value of the deal are high enough, you’ll need a sales engineer.

Putting It All Together

It’s important to remember that in certain high-growth industries—such as high-tech sales—no two sales jobs are the same. Even two jobs with the same title will vary from company to company. A good way to determine whether or not you think a role is right for you is to better understand your own sales skill set.

You Can Find the Full Pieces Here:

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Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan