Attention Tech Experts: This Okta Sales Engineer Thinks You’d Love His Job
Software developers and other technology enthusiasts appreciate a creative challenge—yet they may find that element lacking in their work lives. For those seeking something more, a role in solutions engineering at Okta could be the ticket.
To solve customer problems, Okta’s solutions engineers apply a combination of technical savvy and soft skills. They research requirements, collaborate with account executives to tailor products, and deliver demonstrations to showcase Okta’s technology at its best.
Jay Venkatraj, a senior sales engineer, experiences the role as a perfect balance of engagement with new technologies and new business opportunities. Jay comes from a software development background and hadn’t worked in identity and access management (IAM) before he joined Okta. However, he was excited by the idea of sales engineering and building solutions for customers.
Jay says that, at the time, “I’d been a developer for 7+ years, but I was looking for more of a challenge. There are a lot of things that go into software development, such as building great products and ensuring it’s secure, highly available, reliable, and scalable. But the idea of being in front of a customer, tailoring solutions individually, sounded very exciting to me.”
A day in the life of Okta’s solutions engineers
Jay works with three sales account executives who get him involved when a lead is qualified or a customer inquires about a product. “We try to uncover what customers are looking for from an IAM perspective,” Jay explains. “This involves showing them what our product looks like, tailoring a demo according to their requirements, and showing them how it will fit in with their infrastructure or application.”
Then Jay’s team creates a proof of concept to showcase the ease of using Okta and help customers experience the product for themselves. His typical day involves advising on sales, exploring what makes Okta appealing to specific verticals and industries, and tracking how its products stack up against competitors’ offerings.
The work gets especially exciting when a sale heats up fast. Jay remembers making an unscheduled stop with a loan provider in Texas—a prospect that happened to be on his way. It quickly became clear that Okta offered the right solution, and within two months it went live. “We got a conversation going to see what problem they wanted to address and provided a demo to show how we could solve those issues. We were able to collect notes and provide a rough architecture that we refined in the coming weeks. And it's something that they use to this day. Their usage has grown over the years, starting from around 250,000 users and getting up to 2.2 million. So that is something that I'm very proud of.”
On working at Okta
Sales engineering at Okta gives Jay opportunities to shine, grow, and pursue his interests. He says, “When you think you've seen it all, there's always something new to learn—and it doesn't have to be specific to IAM. When you talk to customers, they're using other technologies. So you're able to get an idea of what the field or the market looks like and identify trends and patterns across other adjacent products.”
But the best part of Okta, for Jay, is the people. “It makes a world of difference, the people you work for, and the people you work with,” he says. “Of course, there are other things that I absolutely love about working at Okta, but people make a big difference.” He describes a culture of open collaboration: “Everybody's helpful, and you can see other people growing as well, which is a great inspiration.”
How to become an Okta sales engineer
It’s clear that at Okta, there’s more to being a sales engineer than just technical expertise. Strong product knowledge sets the foundation for success, but achieving it also takes communication skills and an understanding of the business.
Jay’s advice is, “You need to know the ins and outs of technology and IAM or any other product you’re selling. However, you also need to understand the business use case—why a customer needs to buy the product—and you need good social skills to present a more impactful conversation. It's a learning opportunity to figure out how to engage customers and keep them interactive.”
Begin a career you’ll love at Okta
Jay beams when he talks about the specifics of his work: “Being able to handle objections, work on them, deliver that technical win, and convince the customer are things that I absolutely love and enjoy.” But he insists, “The great thing about Okta is the culture. There's great work-life balance, but everybody's so passionate; they're ready to go above and beyond, and teammates are happy to help.”
So, if you embrace challenges—and conversations—as Jay does, there’s a good chance you’ll absolutely love this job too. Look here to apply to work at Okta!
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