When it comes to assembling a Sales Engineering (SE) team, hiring mistakes can cost you a bundle. Making sure you have all your ducks in a row, taking the appropriate steps to thoroughly evaluate candidates and following a documented process can help set the stage for a much smoother and more successful hiring process. If you’re in the process of recruiting for sales engineers, here are a few expert tips to get you pointed in the right direction.
Define the role
First and foremost, you want to make sure you have a very clear and accurate picture of what the role you are hiring for entails. A comprehensive job description is a great place to start, but in order to truly knock it out of the park you’ll need to drill down to the day-to-day activities of the job. This will enable you to better pinpoint the right experience, skills and personality for the role.
The duties of a sales engineer are expansive and may include some or all of the following:
- Product demonstrations
- Technical presentations
- Interacting with prospects and customers
- Handling technical product questions and answers
- Supporting product evaluations
- Performing competitive analysis
- Creating and delivering technical sales messages
- Supporting customers
- Presenting at seminars and conferences
- Producing articles, white papers and other content
Given this broad job description, it’s also important that you understand what skills and characteristics to look for in order to identify the ideal candidates for the job.
Key Attributes of Exceptional Sales Engineers
Technical Proficiency – To be successful, sales engineers must possess high-level technological skills as they play a pivotal role in a number of tech-related areas. For instance, they must know or be capable of quickly getting up to speed on the core technology behind your product. They may also require a proficiency in relevant supporting technology. Lastly, they must possess or be capable of quickly gaining an understanding of the technology behind your competitors’ products.
Interpersonal Skills – Because sales engineers interact with a variety of people in varying positions on a daily basis, it’s imperative that they have strong interpersonal skills. For instance, they must be comfortable engaging with executive-level individuals as well as front-line employees. They must also be capable of dealing with differing personality types and able to identify and leverage what’s most important to each individual or group with whom they are interacting.
Communication – Along with strong interpersonal skills, a successful sales engineer must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with people of varying technical knowledge. For example, a given day in a sales engineer’s life may involve discussing highly technical topics with a colleague and then having to explain product specs to a prospect in a more simplified way that they understand. As such, the ability to adjust communication manner and approach accordingly is essential.
Presentation Ability – Sales engineers are frequently called upon to deliver technical demonstrations and presentations to both internal audiences as well as external parties. To be successful in this role, these individuals must be capable of not only communicating the features, functions and benefits of your product, but also being able to do so in a way that the audience in question can relate to.
Having a strong, successful sales engineer team can mean the difference between growth and stagnation for your company. As such, you must be diligent about who you hire. By understanding the role you’re trying to fill and knowing precisely what skills and abilities to look for in candidates, you’ll be able to assemble a team of sales engineers that will drive your company toward bigger and better things.
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