The Math Proves It: Sales Engineers are Hard to Find and Hire

HR Directors and Sales Managers are realizing a few tough facts right about now: Many companies are now beginning or expanding their sales engineering/ presales positions- but there just are not that many around or available. This of course leads to a market where- in general- it is a prospect/employee’s advantage.

How do we know that this is the case? A couple anecdotes combined with a crude math formula/ ratio. NAASE understands that there are of course many SE’s out there that maybe have been seeking employment for 6+ months, and there are always circumstances and outliers in various industries. However, using a broad brush here, it does seems that hiring a SE is quite a bit harder right now than many other professions.

For anecdotes, we provide the following:

Many articles and stories have been written over the past year or two about the importance of the sales engineer and them being a needed, yet unsung hero, of a winning revenue team in most B2B endeavors. Some of said articles may be self-serving, but overall these stories from various business and sales writers and enterprises is hard to ignore.

Another factor is that if and while purchasing decisions and teams are getting more complicated and more analytical, and with the B2B sales cycle taking longer, it would make sense that the sales team needs more qualified and technical support and assistance in winning the deal. Hence more sales engineers are finding there way into firms and departments where there were none several years ago.

But, now to the math and analysis…. a quick 25 minute review brought about the following revelation.

I reviewed how many positions actually exist in the USA, vs. looking at how many open job listings there are for said position/title. The first portion I researched thru the US DOL BLS, and the job listings were found on LinkedIn.

As an example, there are about 67,000 sales engineers that exist in the US. And, per LinkedIn, there are 51,127 job listings. Some of those listings might be repeats- I am not sure. Thus, I don’t really know if there are 51k job listings or 51k actual job openings; the two may not be identical. But regardless of that, figuring out this “professionals/openings ratio” can be used to compare different job titles. To help contextualize, for graphic designers there are 261,600 such people that exist in the country, with currently only 12,600 job listings.

I compared the ratios of sales engineers to that of: computer programmer, dentist, graphic designer, electrical engineer, and architect.

I averaged those 5 positions to come up with a ratio of “non SE”. Then I compared that to the SE job listing ratio.

The amount of job openings for sales engineers is over 9 TIMES that of the other job titles.

Said another way, I compared the SE ratio to that of the #2 job title in my analysis, and still- SE’s had roughly 4X the number of job openings that the #2 job title had (relatively speaking).

What does all this mean? Possibly nothing, and we don’t mean to say that it is “easy” to land a great SE position in the current economy. However, in looking at the data, and also at some broad anecdotes, being a sales engineer in 2021 puts you into a pretty solid position in a potential job search. It likely is much more difficult in many other professions.

This article was written by NAASE President Ken Lambert.

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