Sales engineer career path #3: Product development

December 31, 2018 Comments Off on Sales engineer career path #3: Product development

It’s time for the next installment in the ongoing series about career paths for sales engineers seeking new opportunities. This time around, I’m going to talk about the pros and cons of moving into product development. Before I begin, it’s important to understand that this is one of the more challenging transitions, largely because the skills necessary to be an effective SE can be so different than those that characterize the most productive developers. With that said, here goes:

Pros

  • Sense of ownership. SEs flit between opportunities; product developers stay involved throughout the lifecycle of the technology they’re building.
  • Better base salary. In general (but not always), product developers earn a higher base salary than SEs.
  • Less travel. If you’re tired of those 6 am flights to remote client sites, product development might be a welcome relief.
  • Less variability. There are fewer subjective factors – such as client whims and sales representatives who can’t sell – that can block your achievements when you move into product development.

Cons

  • Technically demanding. If your skills aren’t up to par, you’ll really need to put in the educational effort to meet the requirements of your new job.
  • Less upside. While product developers may have a larger base salary, thanks to commission SEs can really hit the jackpot if they have a particularly good year.
  • Risk of outsourcing. Don’t kid yourself: if your employer can save one dollar a year on your salary by moving your job offshore, they’ll do it. In contrast, it’s nearly impossible to outsource SEs.
  • Less interaction with customers. Plenty of SEs really savor the opportunity to meet with prospects and clients; product developers rarely get the chance. Some SEs find being ‘chained to a desk’ to be too confining.

Making the transition

It’s a big leap to move from the sales organization to the product development team. Here are some steps that can make this migration less painful:

  1. Find one or more champions in product development
  2. Discretely meet with them to learn more about what it takes to succeed in their group
  3. When ready, approach your manager and express your desire to make the change
  4. Once you get the go-ahead, work with HR to find a position in product development
  5. Work on a mutually agreeable timeline to switch roles

If you’re interested in being notified of future editions, subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter: @RD_Schneider. You can read other sales engineering-related posts here.

Comprehensive API survey now available from SmartBear

February 29, 2016 Comments Off on Comprehensive API survey now available from SmartBear

I’ve been designing, developing, testing, and optimizing APIs for many years. I’m encouraged by the increasing amounts of attention that these critical enterprise assets are now garnering.

SmartBear has recently conducted an all-encompassing survey of more than 2,300 developers, testers, IT/operations professionals and business leaders representing over 50 different  industries and 104 countries. This is essential reading for anyone seeking to learn more about the state of the API landscape.

API survey1

It covers topics such as:

  • API technology and tool trends
  • Top opportunities and challenges in the API space
  • API development and delivery approaches
  • API consumer expectations and priorities
  • Keys to ensuring API quality and optimizing performance

API survey2

You can download this excellent resource here.

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