Trying to break into software sales and looking for an entry point? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll share the best entry-level tech sales jobs, how much they pay, and the basic process for starting your career in the field where first-time salespeople can earn over $100,000 a year.
The Best Entry Level Software Sales Jobs
People without any sales experience can break into the software sales career by taking a job as a Sales Development Rep, Solutions Consultant, or, sometimes, as a Customer Success Representative. All three pay well and are great learning grounds that will set you up to get more lucrative positions, like Account Executive or Sales Manager.
Sales Development Representatives (SDR)
This is the most common entry point into tech sales. An SDR is a software sales rep who focuses on prospecting for leads and setting meetings for Account Executives on the team. Essentially, they open up sales opportunities for the AE to close.
SDRs spend most of their time cold calling, emailing, and social selling in an effort to connect with decision-makers and get them interested enough in their software to accept a meeting. They also respond to inbound calls and queries from potential leads.
When they aren’t directly selling, they’ll likely be updating their CRM, researching leads, and shadowing AEs to learn how to conduct a demo or close a sale.
As for pay, SDRs in the software industry earn $72,207 per year, around 23,000 of which is commission. This makes it a high-paying job for an entry-level position. Reps typically stay in this role for 1-2 years before moving to a closing role, in which they can easily earn double.
A Sales Engineer is in charge of assisting Account Executives in closing a deal by providing technical knowledge of the product’s parts and functions. They might also help figure out how the complex software can help solve the prospect’s problem, making this a perfect role for tech-savvy individuals with a knack for problem-solving.
Sales Engineers typically spend time advising current customers on how to best use the software. They also are the point of contact for prospects with technical questions. This means they’re often on the phone interacting directly with buyers. They are also often tasked with delivering presentations at conferences.
The average pay for a Sales Engineer sits at around $100,000 per year according to Glassdoor. If you have experience working with complex or enterprise software programs, as perhaps an engineer or developer, and want to make the switch into sales, this role is right for you.
Customer Success Manager (CSM)
This role is less commonly offered to entry-level software salespeople, but I’ve seen it happen firsthand. In fact, one of my former colleagues switched from being an elementary school teacher straight to a CSM at a RE software startup. So, it’s totally doable, especially if you’re articulate, tech-savvy, and personable.
A Customer Success Manager is in charge of managing and growing a software company’s relationships with current clients. They help clients troubleshoot issues with the software and find better ways to use different features. They also likely train and onboard new customers.
CSMs spend most of their time communicating with current customers and helping them get the most out of the software. However, they might also attend upsell meetings with Account Executives, or save meetings to convince a client to stay with your business.
For the most part, their job is to reduce churn and increase renewals. But at some companies, CSMs are also in charge of upselling or cross-selling current customers. For example, if a client is using the basic tier, a CSM might hold a meeting with them to go over why they might want to think about moving up to the premium tier.
On average, CSMs earn around $58,000 as a base salary annually. However, many software companies give their CSMs abilities to earn cash bonuses as well. A CSM position is a great entry-level tech sales job for someone with tremendous people skills.
How to Start a Career in Software Sales
So, we’ve given you the jobs you can get when starting your career in software sales. Now let’s go over the steps for landing interviews with software companies, nailing them, and winning your first tech sales position. You can follow these to success whether you have sales experience or none at all.
The below steps are most applicable to landing an SDR role, which is the most offered entry-level position, as well as the best-paying.
1. Know the Typical Requirements for Getting a Software Sales Job
If you know the traits and credentials software companies typically want in their new sales reps, you’ll be able to craft a template resume that you can then quickly tailor to fit each specific job posting. Below are the common requirements for entry-level software salespeople.
- College education (but not always)
- Customer service experience
- Industry knowledge
- Business acumen or experience starting a business
- Comfortable on the phone
- Problem-Solving skills
- Personable and outgoing
- Relationship builder
- Competitive nature
Keep in mind that you don’t need to have all of these attributes and experiences to land a job. These are just the commonly listed ones on job postings. Sometimes, having just a few of the above will be enough to wow employers in an interview. For instance, exceptional knowledge about the industry in which the company’s clients work will prove you’ll be able to speak to leads and buyers like an expert. This expertise is a very desirable quality. Prospects will trust you.
2. Find the Best Companies Offering Entry-Level Tech Sales Jobs
There are some great software companies out there that seem to always be offering entry-level software sales positions, and paying their reps a lot of money. Below we’ve listed some to check out.
- Oracle: An IT hub that offers an average of $65,000 per year to its SDRs.
- IBM: Offers an IBM cloud containing over 170 software products spanning data, security, blockchain, and more. Its entry-level BDRs earn about $88,000 a year.
- Salesforce: Sells one of the most robust customer relationship management systems out there. They’re also known for their incredible company culture. Their BDRs average about $83,000 a year total.
If you’re struggling to land interviews at such reputable companies, it makes sense to apply to tech sales jobs at smaller startups, which tend to have looser requirements. Some are trying to grow like crazy and need lots of lead-generating reps. They likely pay a little less, but working there is a great way to get your foot in the door. Check out Salestrax.com's job board to find entry-level software sales positions with all types of companies, small and large.
3. Create the Perfect Resume
Your resume should highlight any sales experience or customer service experience you have. It should also try its best to mirror the job posting. If the posting asks for relationship-building skills, try to include a bullet point proving that you have this attribute.
If you’ve ever spent time convincing people to do something, whether it was debate club or a leadership role, include that as well. I used to work for a painting company and sometimes I’d drive around with my manager, knock on people's doors, and ask them if they’d be interested in a free exterior paint estimate. This, of course, made it onto my resume. During an interview someone actually had me repeat the spiel I used to say at the door.
Essentially, any people-facing role will help you land your first software sales job. The resume reviewer wants to know most of all that you’re good at managing and building relationships. Indeed has a great article on how to write a software sales resume that can help you out.
4. Write a Great Cover Letter
Your entry-level software sales cover letter should emphasize any past successes you’ve had in customer service or sales in a concise manner. It should also be personalized to the job description in the posting. Be sure to speak in terms of what the employer wants. For example, they state they need someone with business acumen, give an example of a time you did something entrepreneurial or created something for a past company.
We wrote an article on how to write a software sales cover letter. Check it out to learn the exact structure to follow and some other tips for writing one that excites employers. Or, take a look at this example of a BDR/SDR entry-level tech sales cover letter:
5. Prepare for Your Interview
After landing an interview, you have to do some research. First, look up and read about the person interviewing you, the product the company sells, and the company’s clients. They might ask you about these topics. Form short, succinct answers.
Also, review the job posting and ensure you have some stories queued up that show that you have the employer’s desired credentials, attributes, and knowledge. It might also be a good idea to form prepared answers to the following common sales interview questions.
Lastly, try your best to form a basic understanding of the software. I floundered once in answering a question about what the tool did because I was lazy in my research.
Before I got my first software sales job, one of the final questions was “explain the software to your grandmother.” Luckily, I’d studied up that time. Knowing how the software works is especially important if you’re interviewing with a Founder, which can happen at small SaaS companies. They want you to have taken the time to admire and get to know their brainchild before they let you on board.
Pro Tip: Sometimes the best way into an interviewer’s heart is with sharp questions. Come prepared with questions about the industry, company, role, and interviewer, and they’ll leave thinking of you as inquisitive, curious, friendly, and intelligent, all key traits of a software salesperson. Here are the best questions to ask in a Sales Development Rep interview.
6. Take Courses or Get Sales Experience
If you fail to land a tech sales job after months of hard work, perhaps it’s time to upgrade your reputation by getting some sales experience in another industry.
For example, perhaps a family member needs some help writing cold emails and is willing to pay you on a commission-only basis.
After a few months of honing your cold emailing skills, and perhaps generating some business, you can add that to your resume and perhaps have a better shot at getting noticed by employers.
You could also get some certificates via online courses that teach you how to sell. Coursera has a ton of sales courses to try. Having certifications from reputable sources will prove to employers that you have the knowledge and, more importantly, the drive to become a software sales professional.
If you want to learn more about how to break into the tech sales field, check out our full article on the 11 steps to getting into software sales, where we expand on the process above.
Are There Remote Entry-Level Software Sales Jobs?
Yes, many software companies offer remote, entry-level sales positions, especially Sales Development Rep roles. Software companies tend to have progressive management styles, meaning they’re open to trying new things like remote work. Plus, this strategy helps the business gain access to global talent and enables software salespeople to work from home and enjoy the freedom of remote work. It’s a win-win.
Breaking into tech sales can and has been done by countless people without any previous sales experience. Whether you’re a financial analyst, teacher, engineer, or carpenter, you have the potential to become a Business Development Rep at a software company. To find jobs that suit your needs and skillset, head over to the Salestrax.com job board.