How to Get into Tech Sales – 7 Important Steps

Illustration of a couple looking out over a city, visualizing its technology network

Some of the highest-paying jobs in sales are in the tech industry.

However, many people are intimidated and unsure about how to get into tech sales.

The allure of high earnings, dynamic industry changes, and cutting-edge technology can be irresistible…

But the path to breaking into this lucrative field often seems difficult and shrouded in mystery.

In reality, understanding how to get into tech sales requires a blend of passion for technology, strategic career planning, intelligent research, smart networking, and of course, relentless pursuit of the job you want!

In this article, I’ll make sense of this exciting industry and explain key considerations and challenges with tech sales.

I’ll help you assess your capabilities and drill down into industry subsectors, including types of companies, and roles for you to consider.

We’ll cover tips for landing your first tech sales job and we’ll wrap with answers to FAQs.

The 3 Pillars of the Tech Sector

Let’s start with the 3 main pillars or categories of the technology industry, that all tech companies fall into (and sometimes into multiple categories):

  1. Software
  2. Hardware
  3. IT Services

These categories are very different, so it’s important to identify the area you are most interested in to find ideal tech sales jobs.

Illustration of 3 Greek pillars, with some cartoon characters leaning up against them.


Software has morphed over the years. Here is a helpful breakdown of what software-as-a-service (SAAS) is, and how software has changed over time.

In the modern digital world, software is omnipresent, and the industry has many sub-sectors:

  • Applications that people use to keep records and manage processes (CRM, SCM, communication tools, etc.)
  • Middleware that bridges different applications and allows for information exchange and integration.
  • Database, storage, and security tools that manage, organize, and protect data. 
  • Networking and infrastructure for operating internal and cloud environments.
  • More emerging categories like business process management, AI, mobile, etc. 


Hardware is also a place of ongoing innovation.

Hardware sub-sectors include PCs, mobile and other personal devices, servers, networking equipment, storage devices, peripherals and accessories, point-of-sale systems, computer processors, and more.

Illustration of computer/network servers.

When considering any piece of tech you own, imagine all the different physical parts that collaborate to make it work and even more parts that connect you to the internet. All that is facilitated by hardware.

IT Services

Finally, let’s explore corporate IT services. These are services that support the technology needs of an organization.

Illustration of a person using a wrench on a computer screen, implying they are providing cpu services.

Sub-sectors include; solution design, system implementation & integration, system upgrades, managed services, support & maintenance, security services, data management & analytics, IT project management, end-user support, and consulting.

These services overlay on software and hardware solutions both within an enterprise and extending out so the organization can do business.

What Are Tech Solutions?

Tech solutions are combinations of products (software and/or hardware) and services that are designed to solve various business problems and improve efficiencies.

Solutions can be simple – a single vendor with a software tool and brief implementation services.

Solutions can be complex – a piece of complex hardware that runs multiple software systems, plus all the necessary services to install, configure and operate the system, involving multiple vendors.

In the hardware world, solutions may include OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts or components, ODMs (original equipment designers) that create finished products, and VARs (value-added resellers) that package different hardware and software together as total solutions for customers.

Illustration of a computer chip, with a women holding a laptop.

In the software world, cloud-based solutions such as SaaS (software-as-a-service) and mobile tools are now the norm. Software vendors love the SaaS model because customers sign up for an ongoing subscription vs. a 1-time purchase.

Tech solutions can be delivered by hardware and software companies, VARs, and IT service companies that specialize in various types of technical support work. 

As you can see, solutions are dynamic and often tailored to the customer, their industry-related challenges, and other business pain points.

When considering how to get into tech sales, there are so many different opportunities. Tech sales professionals can find roles that both challenge and excite them.

Unique Tech Sales Challenges

Tech sales can be like riding a roller coaster, with the technology landscape constantly changing and winding in new directions, climbing one minute and falling the next.

This evolution presents unique challenges to sales teams.

Ultimately, selling tech solutions is a thrilling ride but things can really change on a dime.

Illustration of a woman presenting technology products, implying that she knows how to get into tech sales and be successful.

Confused Customers

Potential customers have business problems but often don’t understand exactly how a tech solution will help.

Most people don’t have deep technical acumen, and this creates an additional challenge tech sales reps need to address, along with traditional sales challenges like building value and trust.

Tech sales professionals must educate and lead customers to solutions while coordinating technical resources on all sides.

Selling to Technical Buyers

In technology sales, you will eventually transition from non-technical to technical buyer’s in most organizations, and these people are responsible for vetting potential solutions.

Illustration of an IT manager sitting in front of some servers, on a laptop.

Most tech companies have sales teams that include SEs (Sales Engineers) or Technical Sales Specialists to take the lead with these contacts.

This adds another layer of complexity that isn’t present if you sell widgets. As a tech sales rep, you are responsible for coordinating all these resources and advancing the sales process.

Navigating Rapid Industry Changes

Keeping up with the latest emerging technologies is always a challenge.

This is certainly one of the most innovative industries on the planet, because people have an insatiable desire for better products and experiences, and businesses are always looking for competitive advantages.

The more you can track and begin to spot industry changes, the better able you’ll be to situate yourself as a tech sales representative.

Frequent Job Switching

Due to rapid industry changes, often a company that’s hot today is not tomorrow.

Often a market-leading company will all of a sudden have a bunch of new, innovative competitors.

Because of this, tech sales reps, managers, and leaders tend to move around a lot more frequently than in other industries.

Illustration of a man walking and looking at a resignation letter.

If you want a career in tech sales, be prepared to change companies often and quickly learn new solutions and how best to sell them.

How To Get Into Tech Sales

So now that you know more about the tech industry and some of the challenges, it’s time to shift and explore exactly how to get into tech sales.

As I’m sure you’re learning, there are a wide variety of tech sales positions out there.

Providing a demo of a cool new CRM add-on is not the same as articulating the advantages of complex middleware solutions with an SE by your side.

1. Determine Your Level of Technical Comfort

An easy way to audit yourself is to explore different areas of technology. Review websites and read about products and solutions.

Do you have a thirst to learn more about technical products like security and middleware, or do business applications better resonate with you?

Do you enjoy learning about technology or are you more interested in the business benefits?

Be honest about how far down the technology rabbit hole you want to go, and then invest effort into becoming proficient at your desired level.

Remember that success in a tech sales career demands commitment, research and ongoing learning.

2. Pick a Category and Sub-Sector

I recommend deciding which category to focus on between software, hardware, and IT Services. 

Next, pick a subsector from the lists above and focus on learning more about it, and identifying the companies within it.

For me, it was software, and in particular front-office SaaS solutions (training software & services).

3. Decide Your Preferred Company Type

Next, it’s time to decide the type of company that’s right for your personality and work style.

In essence, there are 2 main categories; start-ups and established companies.

Start-up companies can range in size, but the hallmark is they are trying to grow rapidly and move from small to big players in their particular industries.

Start-ups are either boot-strapped or have institutional investors.

Boot-strapped start-ups are higher risk because they don’t have deep pockets, but are more agile and are often led by visionary founders/CEOs.

If you like autonomy and the ability to make a mark, boot-strapped start-ups are a great option.

Investor-backed start-ups have more oversight, and clear strategies designed to push them into hyper-growth. Processes will be more rigid, but growth often happens faster.

Established companies also range in size, and can be private or publicly traded. They are more entrenched within their industries and have more established operating processes, customers, etc. 

Expect more bureaucracy in established companies, but in a sales context often the company name can open doors more easily (think Oracle, SAP, IBM, etc.).

4. Choose the Ideal Role(s)

You’ve pinpointed your interest in the tech sector and identified some preferred company profiles. Now what?

You need to figure out which tech sales roles suit you best, and that you are qualified for.

Perhaps you are coming from another industry and already know you are a hunter or farmer personality. If not, check this out to help you decide.

Tech companies have varying org structures, job titles, and background requirements, but in most cases they tend to feature some or all of the following 6 key roles:

  1. Sales Development Reps (SDRs)
  2. Inside Sales Reps
  3. Outside/Territory Sales Reps
  4. Account Managers
  5. Sales Engineer (SEs) / Technical Sales Reps
  6. Channel / Partner Sales Reps

You can learn more about SDRs here, and the other big 5 sales roles here.

5. Network, Hunt, and Approach!

Steps 1 through 4 are required, but when people ask me how to get into tech sales, I tell them steps 5 through 7 are the most important.

Identify ideal companies based on your preferences

Make a list of all the companies you want to target; research their products & solutions; who their customers are; anything else you can glean from websites and other online resources.

Glassdoor is a helpful resource where you can find compensation data and feedback from former tech sales reps.

Leverage your network both online and in real life. Connect to hiring managers and sales leaders on LinkedIn.

Attend industry events, both online and live if you can.

Scan job boards like Indeed regularly and set up alerts from companies you are interested in.

Most importantly, be proactive in contacting people that can get you closer to the tech sales opportunities you desire, and show people you are serious bout breaking in.

Illustration of a web of people with dotted line interconnections, implying they are a network.

A well-calibrated cold approach goes a very long way in sales, so don’t be shy.

Once you are dialed into specific tech sales jobs, review job descriptions carefully – does this sound like something you would enjoy doing?

How do you match up with the qualification requirements? Fill any gaps you can through experience, and when in doubt, go for it anyways.

Remember that in order to secure your dream job within this lucrative industry, it takes time, patience, and commitment to keep pushing for your desired outcome… just like you’ll need to do when selling tech products. 

If you get turned down, go back and try and convince them they are making a mistake.

6. Push and Pull in the Interview

Once you are interviewing, it’s time to turn on your sales skills and instincts.

Check yourself at the door and ensure you aren’t telegraphing any weakness regarding your goal of breaking into the tech industry.

Push forward and outline how the skills and experience you have today will translate into the tech sales role you are pursuing.

Answer questions confidently and display the belief sales leaders want to see.

Always come in with a batch of your own questions so you can determine fit, and demonstrate your genuine interest in understanding if there is a match.

Many leaders are keen to find real sales ability and believe product and market details can be taught.

7. Trust your Gut and Negotiate HARD

Read each situation as accurately as possible and trust your gut. 

If you are unsure about a company or potential boss, continue to vet until you are. Walk away if you aren’t sure the fit is right.

Ask to speak to other members of the sales team and even existing customers. This is your tech sales career so take it seriously.

We know you want to bust into this industry, but don’t accept a comp plan or other conditions you aren’t happy with. Always push for the terms you want, and never show desperation.

Illustration of a woman shaking a mans hand, implying the conclusion of a successful job interview.

As a former hiring manager, I was extremely sensitive to how well potential sales hires negotiated with me, and I walked away from many candidates due to their failures in the comp negotiation.

Key Takeaway: 

When considering how to get into tech sales, it’s important to narrow down your focus by identifying which category interests you the most: software, hardware, or IT services.

Consider sub-sectors, and other factors like company size, products, and fit with your background and preferences.

One your pathway is clear, leverage your sales capabilities to network, find and close a great tech sales job.

Remember that technology evolves quickly, so be prepared to learn fast, work hard, and change course to maximize your income potential over the long term. 


Can I really get into tech sales with NO tech experience?

Not all tech sales jobs will be right for a person without technology experience, but many will.

The most elusive skill set in most industries is exceptional sales ability, so if you have that, your chances are always good.

Follow the advice in this article and see what sub-sectors and companies you can find that may be open to a rainmaker with your background.

Your tech sales career will start somewhere if you refuse to give up.

Is it hard getting into tech sales?

Breaking into tech sales can be tough due to its dynamic nature.

Increase your chances of landing your first tech sales job by learning about the technology industry, and the areas you are interested in.

Familiarize yourself with the companies you are targeting and the people you will be meeting.

Build as many contacts and relationships as you can, and highlight the ways your previous experience and attitude will lead to success in a tech sales position.

What if I have no sales experience?

Having no sales experience will make breaking into the tech industry even harder, but not impossible!

Do you have the right personality and characteristics?

Will you sell yourself effectively and push until you succeed?

If so, I promise you can find an SDR or inside sales role. Someone will give you a shot if you exhibit strong potential.


Embarking on a career in tech sales means understanding the three pillars of the sector.

Tech solutions often blend these elements together, making each sale a unique challenge to navigate.

Staying informed about the constant changes in technology is essential for success. It’s not just about selling; high-performance tech sales is about educating your customers too.

Determining your comfort level with technical details will guide you toward roles that suit your abilities and interests.

Selecting preferred sectors and companies helps narrow down potential targets for job hunting. Tailoring resumes to align with desired roles can give you an edge.

Networking plays a crucial role in landing opportunities within this dynamic industry.

Remember, tech sales may not be for everyone due to its fast-paced nature, but it may be a perfect fit for you.

If constant learning and the chance for big earnings excite you, then go for it!

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