Why Engineering Students Should Learn Sales

Have you ever thought about a career in sales? Flow Tech’s owner posed me this question in the spring of 2009, in the middle of the Rome Ballroom during a UConn Engineering Career Fair.

How do I answer this correctly? Is it okay to say, “Hell no!”?

Who on Earth goes to engineering school to pursue a career in sales? If I wanted a career in sales, I would’ve gone to the business school where they don’t take real classes (only have “projects”), and I wouldn’t have felt challenged. No, thank you. I pursued engineering because I wanted to design things, build things, change the world. Leave sales to the guy in the used car lot with slick-backed hair, shoving a business card in your face and trying to put one over on you.

Yet here I am over 10 years later. Technical sales is the only career I’ve ever known, even after a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UConn and a professional engineering license. How did I end up here?

Maybe it was fate. Happenstance. Serendipity. Maybe because Flow Tech was hiring during a recession. Maybe it was a neighbor who worked in engineering, telling me one Saturday afternoon that he wished he had pursued a career in sales. “The harder you work the more you’re paid,” he told me. Maybe it was Flow Tech’s owner, Rich Harper, telling me to follow up with him in two weeks. I could always keep a tight calendar, so I sent him an email and gave a follow up call as instructed. Maybe I had just that right mix of personality and technical acumen to be able to ask the right questions of engineers, contractors and end users to be successful. Maybe I was just lucky.

Sales, and specifically technical sales, isn’t for everyone. I could talk for hours about the benefits of a career in sales, the vision and mission of Flow Tech and how a career with us is rewarding, challenging and fun. How a career in sales can be lucrative. But that’s not the point of this.

I’m writing this to advocate for some sales training for all engineers. Even a modicum of sales training. An expert salesperson will find the best job after they graduate, find the next best job opportunity, career path and prestigious position, even if none of those jobs are primarily associated with sales. I say primarily because, well, EVERYTHING has to do with sales. Nothing happens until somebody sells something. And the most important thing you must sell is yourself.

If my words of wisdom inspired you to learn more about technical sales as a viable career path, I encourage you to check out our internship program. Please feel free to reach out to me directly. You can always contact us by web or phone (860.291.8886) too. Stay up-to-date on Flow Tech’s happenings by following us on social media: FacebookLinkedInTwitter and YouTube.

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