As an IT technical sales specialist or consultant, you'll be selling hardware and software products as part of a sales team.
In a large company, you may be more of a technical expert, while in a smaller one you're likely to combine technical advice with an all round sales role.
So, what will I actually be doing?
On a daily level, your job is likely to include:
- Attending initial sales meetings and meeting the client
- Determining a client's business requirements and whether the products being considered are suitable
- Decide whether the software or hardware needs adapting to meet the client's needs
- Answering any technical questions the client might have
- Presenting your findings to a technical team to act on, and then to the client
Once the product or service has been sold, in theory your role ends. In a large IT company or software house, post-sales specialist then take over. However, in smaller ones you will also be responsible for areas like implementation, training and aftercare support.
As an IT sales specialist, you may concentrate on a particular area of technology, or have a broader technical role.
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The nitty gritty
Usually, you'll work between 37 and 40 hours a week, 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. However, you may be required to work longer hours at busy times. Flexible or part-time work may also be possible.
In most cases, you'll work in an office, although you could also work from home. Some IT salespeople look after a geographical sales area, visiting clients and building up their business.
Generally, your role will require a degree of travel, so a driving licence is important.
Vacancies are advertised on company and recruitment websites, trade publications, plus the local and national press.
Once you're experienced, you could move into a more senior role. Alternatively, you could specialise in a technical, hands-on role, or you could move into people, team or sales management. The career structure varies from one organisation to another.
You could also become an IT consultant, or move into lecturing, training or post-sales. It's possible to go self-employed as a contractor.
Money, money, money
Figures are a guide only.
- As an IT sales specialist you may start on around £20,000 a year
- With experience you could earn £35,000
- More senior positions carry salaries of over £50,000
You may also receive bonuses or commission based on your sales. A company car or car allowance, a mobile phone and laptop may also be included as part of your salary package.
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The good points...
The IT industry is expanding worldwide, with over one million staff already working in the sector. There are job opportunities with IT companies and software houses throughout the UK.
...and the bad
Not everyone will understand what you’re talking about, so you’ll need the patience and the ability to interpret technical language for non-technical people.
Is there study involved?
In most cases, you'll need to be educated to degree level, possibly with relevant work experience and vocational skills. Specific degree subjects such as IT, computing, programming and software engineering are the most in demand, although computer science, maths and physics are also favoured, and even business, arts and humanities may be considered.
To take a computing degree, you should have a minimum of two A levels/three H grades, often including maths or physics, and five GCSEs/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. Check with individual institutions for specific grade and subject requirements.
There are also other qualifications you could take, including:
- BTEC/SQA National Diploma/Certificate in Computer Studies, IT or Networking
- Applicants typically need four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent qualifications
- BTEC/SQA higher national diplomas
- City & Guilds Higher Professional Diploma in Information Management using ICT, Level 4
- Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) BSc
Colleges also normally ask for one A level/two H grades and four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or a BTEC/SQA national certificate/diploma in a relevant subject.
For more mature applicants, you must be able to demonstrate the necessary skills. Relevant sales experience is vital, combined with understanding of IT. You could prepare for degree entry by taking an Access course.
More than almost any other industry, in IT it's vital for sales people to keep up to date with new developments in technology. However, you will be given training on the job, both in-house and externally.
You can also obtain professional qualifications from several professional bodies such as the British Computer Society (BCS). Many private sector companies also offer training courses and computing qualifications.
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
To be good at IT sales you will need:
- Excellent selling skills
- Excellent technical knowledge
- A keen interest in IT issues
- Presentation skills
- The ability to write reports and proposals
- The capacity to work well on your own or in a team
- Negotiating skills
- The ability to manage your time and plan your day effectively