Looking around, it’s not hard to notice that women are still underrepresented in tech. But as the many talented women thriving in the industry can attest to, the opportunities are there – and we’d love to see more women grabbing hold of them.
Daniella Stegic, a Sales Engineer at Splunk, and Priyanka Jadhav, who works as a Pre-Sales Product Specialist at Informatica, have told us about their experiences in sales engineering below. Keep reading to hear why it’s such a great role for women in the tech field, and perhaps you’ll decide it could be perfect for you too!
“I knew from a young age that I wanted a career in tech. I’ve been on the sales side of the industry for about four years now, having spent 15 years in various support roles for different verticals. My last one, with an IT vendor, turned out to be something of an eye opener for me. I realised I no longer wanted to be behind a phone troubleshooting the same repetitive issues for people, and as someone who speaks their mind I let my senior management know how I was feeling.
“The VP of global support mentioned that I would be good at pre-sales, which at that time, I didn’t really know much about. Nevertheless, I started applying for pre-sales roles and eventually the right opportunity came up for me (someone with no pre-sales experience but with good product knowledge and skills).
“That first pre-sales specialist role was a step back in my career, but it was one I needed to take – and what a fantastic launchpad it was. I couldn’t have asked for a better training ground, learning all about how the channel ecosystem works and helping me excel in the world of presales. After gaining experience for 12 months, I went back to vendor-land for a couple of years, and then I jumped back to distribution for a short period. Then, I found myself joining my current team at Splunk!
“As sales engineers, we need to stay up to date and understand the tech we (and our competitors) are selling but the soft skills are just as important. You need to be flexible and able to adapt to multiple situations, you must understand the customer – what they need and why they need it as every customer environment is different – and you have to be able to build relationships with both customers and partners. In other words, you need to become a trusted advisor. It’s a highly rewarding job but it isn’t for everyone. You need to really understand what it entails in order to figure out if it’s the right fit for you.
“If I were to give two key pieces of advice they would be to seek mentorship from people whose work and approach you respect. I have been fortunate to have an excellent mentor for the past five years who has taught me the basics of presales, guided me in my career choices, served as a sounding board, and helped me identify opportunities for growth. The other advice is to not let self doubt get in the way.
As women we have a tendency to quickly count ourselves out, but it’s extremely important to be confident in your abilities and to never underestimate yourself or your potential. I was guilty of that for years and I wish I had understood this a long time ago!”
“I’d been working in various backend and research roles (in addition to completing my Master’s degree) for a few years when I decided I missed client facing roles. So when an opportunity came up to join presales I pounced on it, and I can still say I love my job. It is the perfect mix of my technical knowledge and my people skills. I also get to work with some of the smartest people in the industry and help customers solve complex problems.
“Being a sales engineer is fun. It gets better with every new opportunity you take up. Though it requires a certain amount of technical knowledge that some might find boring, you get to have a lot of customer-facing conversations on a daily basis. Each of these conversations are different from one another, and that’s something I look forward to every day. The sales engineer teams are usually the ones that have members who have worked on different technologies and markets and generally are from diverse backgrounds, and that makes the interactions within the team super interesting, too.
“I also think that women are great at listening, have an inherently high emotional intelligence, and are amazing multi-taskers. All of these qualities make us a perfect fit as sales engineers! On top of this, if you have a computer science background or just love technology in general, you will be an absolute natural. The key is to be confident and learn to enjoy the art of selling backed by your technical knowledge.
“So my advice to those who are thinking of a career in sales engineering is don’t be afraid to take up new opportunities and learn as much as you can, because that is what makes this role so great!”
A career in tech sales could be the opportunity of a lifetime for you – it’s a wonderful mix of technology and people skills, and a great place to apply your knowledge while interacting with clients and diverse customers every day. Perhaps it’s the role you’ve been waiting for – drop us a line to find out!