A career in technical sales and marketing can be great for those who love science but don’t feel suited to the bench. These professionals are self-motivated, and they love to travel and meet new people. But they are also able to work independently as the situation demands.
Typical Job Functions
A career in technical sales and marketing combines science and chemistry knowledge with people skills and business acumen. Technical marketers and salespeople:
- Use their science knowledge to understand the business and technical issues their customers face, and
- Offer appropriate solutions.
In addition to meeting with external customers, scientists working in sales and marketing work with the scientists in their own firm to provide a link between the technical staff and the end users. They help to track the long-term needs of a market and focus the company’s research on these needs.
Sales and marketing personnel can be involved in every phase of the product cycle, from product development to getting products to market. As a sales professional, it is their job to consistently remind the technical side of the customers' needs.
Sales and marketing professionals are needed for a wide variety of technical products, including:
- Scientific or analytical instrumentation
- Physical measurement and testing products
- Imaging equipment
- Biotech, life science, and pharmaceutical services
- Laboratory equipment and materials
- Scientific publications
- Chemical abstract services
- Computing software
- Medical equipment
A typical career path for technical sales and marketing might look something like this:
- Entry-level position in customer service (answering inquiries and complaints from existing and potential customers)
- Transitioning to outside sales (meeting in-person with current and potential customers)
- Career advancement to:
- A sales or marketing management position (overseeing technical sales staff), or
- Product management (being responsible for a particular product line)
Turnover in sales and marketing positions is more frequent than for scientists in the lab.
Any courses in business (especially industrial sales) are good preparation for sales and marketing positions. Following are guidelines for entry-level positions:
- Chemical sales and marketing professionals have degrees in chemistry (bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D.).
- Many have a Master's of Business Administration.
- Languages may be useful, especially for companies with operations and/or customers outside of the United States.