Ever thought about using your security knowledge in sales. If so, keep reading to learn what it takes to become a cyber security sales engineer!
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Click below to know more about becoming a cyber security sales engineer…
What Is a Cyber Security Sales Engineer?
A cyber security sales engineer is a professional who combines technical expertise with sales acumen to effectively present, demonstrate, and promote cyber security products to clients.
This role allows you to leverage your technical knowledge, communication skills, and relationship-building abilities.
The purpose of your role is to bridge the gap between the technical aspects of cyber security and sales. Though you’re not leading the initial sales discussion, you’re still responsible for leading the technical discussions.
Your job is to support the sales representative (as part of the sales team) to facilitate a business deal. In doing so, you’re able to help clients understand the value and functionality of the solutions being offered.
What’s Another Name for Cyber Security Engineer?
Depending on the organization and specific job responsibilities, a cyber security sales engineer might be called by different names. Here’s a look at several alternative names for a cyber security sales engineer:
- Solutions Engineer
- Pre-Sales Engineer
- Technical Sales Consultant
- Sales Systems Engineer
- Sales Support Engineer
- Security Solutions Architect
Though these titles emphasize different aspects of the role, they generally involve the same set of skills listed previously.
What Does a Cyber Security Sales Engineer Do?
Your responsibilities would be diverse, and you’ll often work closely with your organization’s sales and technical teams. Let’s look at what a typical cyber security sales engineer does:
In pre-sales support, you’ll work with the sales team to identify business opportunities by understanding the client’s technical requirements.
You’ll then use your expertise to determine if that client is a fit for the products offered by your company.
Solution design and customization
Many times, a client doesn’t always know what they want. To design a solution that meets their unique security requirements, you’ll be expected to work closely with them.
As part of that interaction, you’ll get to know the client’s current security infrastructure and their security posture.
At this point, you’ll develop a customized solution that fits their environment and provide guidance on its implementation.
Product demonstrations and presentations
One of your key responsibilities is to conduct product demonstrations and presentations for your client. Of course, that’ll require you to have a solid understanding of your company’s products.
Once you’ve been trained, you’ll discuss the benefits of your product with the client’s technical and non-technical team members.
You’ll be responsible for creating new presentations and customizing demonstrations to their needs.
Proof of Concept (POC)
As a Proof-of-Concept (POC) project, you need to help your client evaluate your product’s effectiveness. This involves setting up and configuring the product in their environment.
Part of your job will be to monitor the product’s performance and address issues that arise during the testing phase.
Technical sales documentation
As a security sales engineer, you’re also responsible for creating and maintaining a variety of technical sales documentation.
This includes docs such as product datasheets, whitepapers, case studies, etc. The documentation provides clients with valuable insights into the product’s features, capabilities, and overall benefits.
Training and education
Once your client has made the purchase, you don’t just say goodbye; you need to provide training and educational resources.
You’ve got to ensure they fully understand what their receiving and how they can best use it. This may involve on-site training sessions, developing e-learning materials, or hosting webinars.
However, training and education doesn’t always have to happen after the client has made a purchase. There may be times where you educate potential clients on your products for marketing purposes.
This might involve doing live demonstrations at security conferences and trade shows.
It’s important to ensure your client’s ongoing success by helping your organization to maintain that relationship with the client. Even after the sale, you’ll stay along for the customer journey by providing continued support.
You may be responsible for troubleshooting your client’s issues and assisting with product updates. This might even involve gathering feedback to help drive product enhancements.
Are Sales Engineers in High Demand?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that cyber security sales engineers are in high demand. After having done some research on this question, here’s what I was able to find:
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the growth for sales engineers between the years 2021 and 2031 is 6%. That equates to about 3,400 additional jobs.
Now, compare that to the position of information security analyst with a growth rate of 35% (or an additional 56,000 jobs) for the same time frame.
A LinkedIn job search of “cyber security sales” or “presales” vs “cyber security analyst” or “engineer” didn’t yield very much either. And searching by people’s job titles was even worse.
Even after checking Indeed, I again wasn’t very impressed. However, that doesn’t mean cyber sales engineering jobs are non-existent; you’ll just need to work harder to find a position.
How Can I Be Successful in Cyber Security Sales?
If you want to be good at cyber security sales, learn to develop your product knowledge and interpersonal abilities.
If you’re lacking in either, you’ll have a much more difficult time closing a deal. Let’s go through each:
Develop a solid foundation in cyber security
You need to familiarize yourself with the security frameworks, standards, and regulations of the industry your organization or clients do business in.
For instance, if your company specializes in medical device products, you should be very knowledgeable about HIPAA regulations or the HITRUST framework.
If you can learn these requirements outside your normal working hours, it’ll provide a tremendous value to your team.
Know the security products you’re selling
Ensure you have an in-depth knowledge of the security solutions you’re selling. It’s crucial you know your product inside-out to effectively demonstrating the value of your offerings.
Learn about your products features, benefits, capabilities, and limitations. You should understand how other clients use your product (use cases) as well as how they compare to competitors.
Develop strong communication and presentation skills
Be able to effectively communicate complex security concepts to everyone. Practice your presentation and demonstration skills, and tailor your communication style to suit the audience.
This means knowing when to use technical or non-technical jargon depending on who you’re speaking to.
Cultivate active listening and empathy
This step is the most important step of all! If you don’t get this part right, it’ll all go downhill. There have been many instances where inexperienced sales members think they know better than their clients.
Practice active listening, ask open-ended questions, and show genuine empathy for their challenges. If you can do this part, you’ve nailed the most critical aspect of building your clients’ trust and credibility.
You’ve got to understanding your clients’ needs and concerns before you start spitting out solutions!
Develop the right security solution
This is why active listening is a vital part of the job. It’s not uncommon for the client to misidentify the problem.
You’ll find yourself poking and prodding at the client’s responses to get at the root cause of the issue. Once you find the core problem and their pain points, start to cultivate a response that addresses their concerns.
And if you can illustrate how your solution addresses their specific concerns, you’re more likely to establish their trust.
ProTip: Don’t develop a solution your clients’ don’t need, they’ll resent you for it later on!
Collaborate with your internal teams
Cyber security sales engineers don’t work alone; no sales engineer is complete without a collaborative, internal team!
Be prepared to work closely with your colleagues in product development and technical support. They’ll be the one to keep you informed of product updates and new features.
You might even coordinate with other departments within your organization: legal, finance, or customer success teams.
Learning to work with all team members ensures a smooth operation and successful delivery of your clients’ projects.
Build and maintain relationships
The core aspect of any sales effort is to establish and nurture relationships with potential and existing clients. Be proactive in reaching out to potential clients, follow up on leads, and maintain regular communication with existing clients.
ProTip: Having a relationship doesn’t mean that you’re always talking business!
Hone your negotiation and closing skills
Cyber security sales often involve complex negotiations and long sales cycles. Learn to develop your negotiation skills and closing techniques; and most importantly, be able to handle objections, a lot.
You’ve got to be patient but persistent and remember that building trust and credibility with clients takes time.
ProTip: Never bring up business unless your client brings it up first!
Set goals and track progress
Establish clear goals and objectives for your sales performance, and regularly monitor your progress. Use customer relationship management (CRM) tools to track leads, sales, and client interactions.
Analyze your performance data to identify areas for improvement and adjust your strategies accordingly.
Invest in professional development
Just because your role isn’t overly technical in nature doesn’t mean you’re allowed to remain stagnant. At some point, you might be required to pursue certifications or attend training programs and conferences.
Use these as opportunities for investment in your own professional growth to enhance your skills.
Is Sales Engineer a Stressful Job?
Sales engineering can be a stressful job, depending on your personality, work environment, and your company’s culture.
There are several common stressors and challenges associated with becoming a cyber security sales engineer:
High performance expectations
As a sales engineer, you’ll often face high expectations from management to meet or exceed sales targets and quotas.
While those expectations are mostly felt by the sales rep, don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be spared. The pressure to generate revenue can lead to long hours and intense competition.
Travel and irregular hours
You might be required to travel frequently for client meetings, product demonstrations, and industry events. The continuous travel requirements can lead to odd working hours, bodily stress, and a disrupted work-life balance.
Even if you’re not traveling, you still might have to work according to the client’s schedule.
Balancing technical and sales responsibilities
Balance your technical expertise and sales acumen by delivering the right amount of information without going overboard.
Try to stay knowledgeable on new products features while refining your sales strategies, negotiation techniques, and interpersonal abilities.
Complex sales cycles and long lead times
Sales engineers often deal with complex products that require extensive customization and implementation. Be prepared to invest significant time and effort in each sales opportunity, often with no guarantee of success.
Client management and relationship-building
The downside of building relationships with your clients is the need to manage your clients as well. This means having to manage their expectations, address concerns, and handle any objections that arise.
Because this can be emotionally draining, you need to possess strong interpersonal skills. This is even more true with difficult clients or challenging situations.
Problem-solving and troubleshooting
As the technical expert, you’ll be called upon by the client to troubleshoot issues, before and after the sale. If you work for a large company, it’s possible that troubleshooting the client’s technical issues falls upon another department.
If not, resolving these issues can be time-consuming and stressful, especially when they directly impact client satisfaction.
Keeping up with industry trends and competition
Cyber security sales engineers must continuously stay informed of industry trends and technologies. Know what your competitors are bringing to the market and always be on the lookout for disruptive technology.
You’ve got to work with your internal teams to address those changes and bring them to market quickly.
While all of these factors can contribute to your stress, it’s essential to recognize that your experiences will vary.
What Is the Salary of a Sales Engineer in Cyber Security?
I made a comparison between two separate job titles. Since not all companies having a listing for “cyber security sales engineer”, I looked under “technical sales engineer” to find a more broadly accepted term.
As of March 2023, you can expect a minimum average base salary of $86,417 per year, nationally, as a technical sales engineer. I calculated that by averaging the following six median base salary figures:
- Salary.com: $92,505
- ZipRecruiter: $81,192
- Glassdoor: $77,771
- Payscale: $80,766
- Comparably: $97,646
- Zippia: $88,623
However, when specifically looking at cyber security sales engineers, the salary range can be higher due to the specialized nature of the field.
Four of the platforms provided me with the average median base salary for security sales engineer as of March 2023:
- Salary.com: $91,465
- Glassdoor: $98,151
- Payscale: $114,323
- ZipRecruiter: $115,998
If that’s accurate, that provides you an average median base salary of $104,984. Keep in mind that these are median base salaries that are only applicable to those with a few years of experience.
This figure obviously increases for those working in high-demand industries, large corporations, or major metropolitan areas with a high cost of living.
For entry level cyber security sales engineer, your salary will be significantly less. However, with your base salary, you’ll still receive commissions, bonuses, and other performance-based incentives, which can significantly increase your total compensation.
Of course, any benefits package you receive, including health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks, will vary by company and contribute to the overall compensation package.
Do Sales Engineers Need to Code?
Cyber security sales engineers generally don’t need to be proficient in coding. That’s because your primary responsibility is in the sales and technical support aspects of your products.
However, having a background in, or understanding of, coding or scripting will enhance your overall effectiveness in the role. Here’s why:
Instills client confidence
Your team may be tasked with developing a customized solution to fit your clients’ requirements. But how will you know if their request is feasible unless you understand how your product is coded?
You could say, “we’ll check and get back to you”, but that doesn’t instill confidence in your potential client. So, by having that knowledge, you’ll be in a much better position to confidently respond to your clients.
Collaborating with technical teams
You’re going to be working closely with your technical colleagues: developers, engineers, and architects. Therefore, understanding coding often helps to facilitate communication and collaboration with them, making your job easier.
Troubleshooting and problem-solving
At times, you may end up troubleshooting issues or providing technical support during the pre-sales or post-sales process.
A basic understanding of programming concepts and languages can help you more effectively diagnose and resolve product issues.
Continuing education and professional development
Familiarity with coding will help you to better understand new technologies and tools. This in turn, helps your organization stay ahead of the curve and maintain its relevance in the field.
It’s worth noting that the extent to which coding skills are necessary or useful will vary depending on your specific product, service, or industry focus.
What Comes After Cyber Security Sales Engineer?
After working as a security sales engineer, you have various career paths for growth, depending on your goals. Here are a few to consider:
Senior Sales Engineer or Principal Sales Engineer
With a proven track record, you can advance to more senior or principal roles within your company. Your responsibility then becomes mentoring junior sales engineers, leading larger sales teams, and managing high-profile clients.
Sales Manager, Regional Sales Manager, or Director of Sales
If you know how to provide leadership, then a sales management role is better suited for you. You’ll oversee sales teams, set sales targets, develop sales strategies, and manage key accounts.
Product Management or Product Owner
A cross-functional role and a great fit if you’re interested in the strategic and technical aspects of security products.
You’d be responsible for guiding the development, positioning, and overall strategy of the organization’s cyber security products.
Business Development or Strategic Alliances
This is great if you have strong relationship-building skills and an interest in exploring new markets or partnerships.
These positions involve identifying and pursuing new opportunities for growth, forming partnerships with other organizations, and expanding the company’s presence in the market.
Technical Account Management or Customer Success Management
You’ll enjoy this role if you prefer working closely with clients and ensuring their satisfaction with cyber security solutions.
These roles focus on building long-term relationships with clients, providing ongoing technical support, and ensuring that clients are getting the maximum value from your products.
Cyber Security Consulting
If you’re able to gain deep industry knowledge and experience, consider transitioning into cyber security consulting roles.
Your role then becomes to provide expert advice, guidance, and solutions to help clients address their security challenges, assess risks, and implement effective security measures.
What Degree Is Best for a Cyber Security Sales Engineer?
The best degree for a cyber security sales engineering position will depend on your career goals, interests, and the specific requirements of the position.
Here are a few college degrees that are beneficial for your career:
- Computer Science
- Computer Engineering
- Cyber Security
- Information Security
- Information Technology
- Information Systems
- Network Engineering
- Network Security
- Business Administration or Management
- Sales or Marketing
Some individuals may choose to pursue a combination of technical and business-related degrees. For instance, a dual degree in computer science and business administration combines elements of both fields.
This allows you to gain a well-rounded education in both technical and business aspects of the role. However, if you choose to do only one, go for the technical degree while learning business through side coursework.
How Do You Become a Cyber Security Sales Engineer?
Cyber security sales is a great career especially if you’re an entry level candidate. That’s because becoming a sales engineer doesn’t require you to have technical or sales experience.
The only other core qualifications are having very strong communication, collaboration, and interpersonal skills. And while having experience is desired, it’s usually not a requirement.
After that, it’s just a matter of finding a job and applying.