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Instead, in some ways the Internet is expanding the need for salespeople – particularly those who sell scientific and technical products and services, which can be lucrative. In 2010, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, these sales engineers earned a median annual salary of $87,390 (including base pay, bonuses, and commissions), making that the highest paid of all sales categories. In second place were sales reps in wholesale and manufacturing, specifically for technical and scientific products, who earned a median yearly income of $73,710.
Moreover, the growth of jobs in those areas will exceed that for the sales profession overall. During the 2010-20 decade, the BLS projects that jobs for sales engineers will climb 14.4 percent, while sales rep jobs in wholesale and manufacturing for technical and scientific products will advance 16.4 percent.
Selling sophisticated wares holds not only the potential for high earnings but the excitement of working in growing fields and making contact with creative people. But such jobs aren't easy.
"They take somebody highly skilled technically who has the ability to make complicated products easy to understand and can explain how they will solve a customer's problem," says Tom Silver, senior vice president at Dice.com, a New York-based website that links up employers and the tech community.
The skills and knowledge of the sales reps also have to be kept up to date, which may require attending classes or retraining. And traditional selling techniques may not work with high-tech wares.
"Now, instead of a single point of contact, you may be dealing with a corporate board," says Michael Bremmer, chief executive officer of TelecomQuotes.com, a provider of telecommunications negotiations and procurement based in Moreno Valley, Calif. "This stretches out the sales cycle. It could also toughen the job of closing on a sale that a few years ago might have been won on the basis of a good price."