Pre-sales engineers — sometimes called technical engineers — are technically skilled members of the IT sales team who help customers draw up requirements and select the correct products and services.

They also assist with technical questions or concerns during the sales process and frequently participate in the initial portion of the project specification process.

This position requires a good deal of experience and skills in both sales and technical domains. Nate Mayhill, Division Director at Robert Half Technology in Dublin, Ohio, says, “I have found that pre-sales engineering is an experienced individual’s game. Many people have been in their roles for more than ten years.”

Pre-sales engineer salary

The skills and experience necessary to be a successful pre-sales engineer necessitate a premium salary, Mayhill says. “Often, pre-sales engineers will make in excess of $100,000 per year.” He notes the expectations are high as well: “The individual in this position must provide an excellent rate of return for the company to invest that much money on a yearly basis in a salary.”

Pre-sales engineer job description

What does it take to be a pre-sales engineer? Here are some key qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or a combination of education and experience in engineering, information systems, or business administration
  • Five years of industry experience, including two or more years in sales engineering or consulting
  • Proven technology skills, outstanding interpersonal abilities, and strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Attention to detail, plus analytical and problem-solving capabilities
  • Positive, service-oriented personality
  • Willingness to travel

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Pre-sales engineers collaborate with the sales support or account team by acting as technical experts in customer presentations. In addition, they determine the technical requirements to meet client goals and act as liaison between the organization’s sales/business development and engineering groups. They also respond to requests for information or requests for proposals from customers, supplying the technical details of proposed solutions.

Pre-sales engineers then must coordinate the transition between pre-sales specifications and implementation engineering once contracts have been awarded.

How to become a pre-sales engineer

Pre-sales engineers supplement their technical expertise with many traits good salespeople possess. Mayhill says, “Sitting across the table from the best ones, you can feel intensity and passion for their companies and the products they support. At the same time, they need to possess strong listening skills so they can help customers and provide the necessary solutions.”

Students looking to become pre-sales engineers should acquire education in both technical and business areas. Mayhill adds, “Taking courses not only on the technical side but also within the business sector will help new graduates to achieve a holistic view of this position.” To those already in the field, he recommends continually improving their overall technical abilities.

Look to Robert Half’s latest Salary Guide for job descriptions and starting compensation trends for a wide range of IT jobs.