How to Get a Software Sales Job: Responsibilities, Salary & Types

Here’s a riddle: What’s one thing that Mark Cuban, Donald T. Valentine, Howard Schultz, and Larry Ellison all have in common? The answer (spoiler alert!): They all started their careers in tech and software sales jobs.

It should come as no surprise that becoming a software sales professional opens doors in a way few careers can. Selling software pays handsomely, with an average salary ranging from the high five- to low six-figure range.

And while a college degree may help you land the job, often it’s not necessary. What matters more to recruiters are soft skills, like good communication skills. It also helps if you’re trustworthy, hardworking, and flexible.

The other skills, like cold calling and honing your lead generation abilities, can be learned. In short, anyone can get a job as a software sales professional with the right attitude and the right amount of determination.

What is Software Sales?

Software sales is the process by which you, as the software sales rep, offer technical solutions (usually in the form of software products) to help your potential customers solve their business problems.

With the rise of software-as-a-service (SaaS), the software you could sell runs the gamut. For example, your job description could include helping potential clients find marketing or CRM software.

Responsibilities of a Software Sales Rep

That said, there is more to the job than just selling software. The section below highlights some of the duties you could perform throughout your software sales career.

Lead Generation and Cold Calling

The difference between a lucrative and lackluster sales career depends on how well-developed a sales rep’s cold-calling and lead-generation sales skills are. You’ll be expected to call on potential customers and book meetings as a software sales representative. The more potential customers you have in the pipeline, the more sales you’ll close and the more money you’ll make.

How to Get a Software Sales Job - Close CRM Sales Pipeline View

‎Product Education

The tech industry changes constantly. As such, you’ll spend some time learning about changes to your company’s product lines. You must understand product updates and know them well enough to answer your customers’ questions about them.

What's more, you also need to understand what differentiates your product from alternative solutions and keep your finger on the pulse of important trends and developments in your industry.

Sales Team Meetings

As a sales pro, you will work closely with account managers, software sales managers, and more. Sales team meetings help you learn about company goals, how different departments contribute to these goals, and how your work furthers your company’s business development.

Customer Care

Your job in software sales encompasses more than just closing deals. You’ll contact new and existing customers via phone, email, or Zoom using CRM software. Customer care is an important part of your sales strategy and helps you build the long-term customer relationships required to advance your sales career.

Maintaining communication also allows you to offer demos of new software products and features as they roll out and provide ongoing value to your customers. This will not only increase retention but also lead to more opportunities to grow the account. The best way to succeed in software sales is to help your customers succeed.

Social Media Interactions

More modern software sales strategies include being active on sites like LinkedIn. Salespeople who use social media streamline their sales process by actively interacting with their potential clients. Social platforms allow you to establish your credibility and generate new sales leads.

Qualifications to Become a Software Sales Rep

The job description for a software sales representative position varies based on several factors. These include:

  • The hiring company (whether it’s in the realm of startups versus established companies)
  • Whether the new rep needs a college degree (a bachelor’s degree is often required for jobs requiring a deep knowledge of how the technology works)
  • How much sales experience the candidate has, based on the position (entry-level sales versus sales manager, for example)
  • How well the job candidate builds relationships and develops a rapport with potential customers

This list isn’t exhaustive. Each job has its requirements. Your best bet is to pay attention to each job description and tailor your application materials to each job.

Software Sales Earning Potential

Software salespeople usually earn a base salary plus commissions, the breakdown of which varies from company to company. Often, sales reps have the option of picking a commission structure. Some software companies also pay bonuses and offer benefits like insurance and 401K.

Whether you work for a startup or a more established company also affects your income. Big companies can pay higher salaries, but smaller companies can be agile or may offer other appealing incentives.

Zippia reports that the average salary for software sales positions is between $51,000 and $126,000, with most salespeople earning about $82,000 annually. So-called “super earners” can earn even more.

According to The Business Insider, getting a tech sales job at a company like Oracle or HP equals big money—many of the highest earners net between $250,000 to $500,000 a year.

Types of Software Sales Jobs

The sample career progression below is a snippet of common sales roles in many companies. If you’re considering a career in software sales, the order of the roles listed below represents a common career path.

Inside Sales Rep

When you work as an inside sales rep, you usually work in your company’s main office, although there's been a huge shift to remote sales teams where reps work from home.

Typically, you also work with other reps and spend your days contacting potential customers. Depending on your job requirements, you may be cold calling prospects or working with warm leads. The average salary for the inside sales rep is almost $50,000 per year.

How to Get a Software Sales Job - Inside Sales Rep Cold Calling with Close CRM

‎Outside Sales Rep

Outside sales reps sell to potential customers face-to-face: they attend industry events, show up on the premises of prospects, and meet them in person.

For example, if your SaaS company sells software to bars and restaurants, you'll often have much better chances to build up your client base by showing up on their premises than by sending cold emails. Usually, the average deal size is larger than that of an inside sales rep—which makes sense, given that more time, effort, and cost are also required. The base salary for this job is about $82,000 plus commissions.

Account Executive

The account executive (AE) starts the ball rolling. Unlike the account manager, who meets the client after they’ve come on board, the AE reaches out to potential clients to try to build a relationship with them. The AE nurses the client all the way through the sales process. The AE salary runs about $91,000 per year.

Account Manager

Once the salesperson makes the sale, the account typically goes to an account manager. This person may follow up, try to cross-sell more services to the client and offer ongoing tech help. The salary for this job is about $85,000 a year.

Software Sales & Operations Manager

The sales and operations manager is one of the main support roles in sales. This position provides training for the sales force and usually reports to the C-Suite. It provides a link between the entry-level, mid-career, and advanced sales and management teams. The base salary is $99,000 to $112,000 per year.

Sales Engineer

If ever you needed at least a bachelor’s degree for a sales job, this is it. The sales engineer has the technical background required to explain the software to potential customers and be the point of contact for technical teams. Often, they will have a degree in computer science, engineering, or some related field.

Sometimes, this is a stand-alone job. At other times, the sales engineer accompanies the sales team and provides answers to the technical questions that the customer may ask. Salary structure varies. The average pay is about $86,000 per year.

Vice President of Sales

The VP of Sales position is a creme-de-la-creme position. This position oversees the company's sales and often its marketing and advertising. Working with each department, the VP of Sales defines and implements sales teams' strategies. Salary for this role averages $250,000 or more.

Chief Sales Officer

This represents the pinnacle of a sales career. This person develops long-term sales strategies and coordinates with other department heads to implement them. Implementation can include overseeing operations management, creating marketing and advertising campaigns, and ensuring business development for the entire company. The average pay for this position is $221,000 or higher.

How to Become a Software Sales Rep

Now, for the good stuff: How do you land a software sales rep job? In the following list, you’ll find our suggestions for landing the desired sales job.

Become a Great Candidate

Most hiring managers would agree: Bringing a new team member on board is like committing to a new relationship. And you don’t usually pick your partner based on their experience levels.

While sales experience wouldn‘t hurt, your other natural sales skills, like prospecting and cold calling, may be enough to land you the job.

If you’re friendly, results-focused, and possess good rapport-building skills, then you already possess three important qualities sales managers want. However, there are some steps you can take to become a more desirable candidate. First, tailor your application materials to each job description.

Read a few of the top sales books to ensure you've got a good grasp of industry terms and sales strategies.

Additionally, study job descriptions to learn what types of sales certification programs your ideal sales jobs require, then do your best to gather those certifications.

Finally, research the specific industry you’re aiming to enter. Join networking groups and online forums, and be on the lookout for new software releases. Candidates who are genuinely interested in a certain software will make a better impression than those who are simply looking for a paycheck.

Get a Mentor in the Field

Good mentors have experienced all the pitfalls and promises of the job. They’ve also experienced all the workplace politics. The right sales coach will push you to be the best version of yourself, even when you don’t feel like it.

More importantly, mentors have industry contacts that can help your career. According to Payscale, as many as 85 percent of new hires find a job via networking.

To find a mentor, attend networking functions, industry training, and webinars, and look for chat groups on social media sites.

And when attending in-person events, use networking time to meet as many new people as possible. Get to know the speakers and audience members alike. You never know who might become a mentor to you down the road.

Update Your Online Presence

Hiring managers look candidates up online before they ever call them. Therefore, your LinkedIn profile needs to stand out. Keep your LinkedIn profile page tidy, featuring your most relevant roles and accomplishments and all related certificates, awards, projects, and endorsements.

Additionally, make it a point to interact with people who post articles relevant to your field. Answer questions for those looking for help. All of these actions show that you’re an asset in your field and give you both credibility and authority.

Apply for the Job and Land the Interview

Here’s the thing about applying for jobs: It’s an awful lot like selling. You may apply to many jobs before getting a bite from a recruiter. (Don't limit yourself to one job platform: there are plenty of places to find sales jobs.)

If you get a callback, you must sell yourself through the interview process. When you’re in the pre-hired job search phase, consider yourself in the cold calling phase sales of the process. Prepare yourself by practicing answers to common sales interview questions and doing a mock sales pitch in advance.

You’re the product being sold; don’t be shy about selling yourself. Reach out to recruiters on LinkedIn. Make a few follow-up calls to check-in. Never let the hiring manager forget your name.

Use Close to Get Your Software Sales Career Started

A career in software sales is one of the most lucrative ones you’ll ever aspire to, with starting salaries often spanning $65,000-$115,000. Although you’ll have some standard activities you’ll have to perform, like cold calling and account management, it’s likely that no two days of the job will look alike.

While preparing for a new role in software sales, we recommend you review our free resources to update your industry knowledge.

It also helps to familiarize yourself with customer relationship management (CRM) software, which most sales professionals use to track and nurture leads. Try Close free for 14 days to get a handle on everything our software does to help you stay in touch with all your prospects and clients throughout their journey.

Are you looking for a sales career now? Take a look at our current job opportunities and join the team!

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