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How to Structure an SE Org
Successful sales engineering organizations take careful attention, meticulous planning and strategic coordination in order to flourish. However, structuring your SE organization so that sales engineers can work cohesively with reps, managers and other staff can be challenging. Part of the problem is that SEs tend to be spread across different locations and possess differing skillsets. The good news, though, is that these challenges can be overcome. Let’s take a look at how to build and develop an SE team that will be highly effective today and agile enough to adapt to tomorrow’s changing environment.
Why build an SE org?
The thing that often sparks the desire to build out a separate sales engineering team is a lack of organization. Problems begin to arise when multiple departments, from Operations to Product Marketing, all have their hands in the pre-sales process. With so many groups providing support, it can get confusing for the sales reps.
Furthermore, because the pre-sales tasks fall lower on the list of priorities for these other teams, the results suffer – for the sales reps, for the customers and for the company’s bottom line. There is often a breaking point at which the decision to develop a dedicated SE team is finally made. If you are at that point, here’s how to make it happen.
Gain buy-in from the top
The initial step in building an SE team should begin at the top. Garnering support from key executives in the organization is absolutely crucial in getting the initiative off the ground. Why? Because building an entirely new department requires a significant investment, both of time as well as money. In order to justify this investment, you must have high-level support. Start by pitching the benefits that an SE org can have for the company.
Develop a vision
The next step in structuring your SE org is to meet with relevant internal stakeholders to design and develop a strong vision for the new team. This step is a bit labor-intensive, as it involves in-depth collaboration with the Sales, Product, Operations and Professional Services teams.
Some of the key considerations in the planning stage include:
- Determining what type of work the SEs will perform
- Defining how the sales reps will engage the SEs for support
- How will SE work be tracked (if at all)?
- What are the needs of sales leaders, both in terms of the kind of SE support they envision, as well as specific SE skills, knowledge and abilities (for recruiting purposes)
Adopt an “SE mindset”
Begin to map out the overarching things that you would like your new SE team to become known for. For instance, you might document, “help close deals faster” or “join general knowledge with specialized expertise.” Then, incorporate those things into your team’s mantra. This mantra will ultimately serve as the foundation for the culture and purpose of your SE organization. It will define who the team is, what role they play within the company and the impact they aim to have over the long haul. Remember to share your mantra with the entire sales force as well so they can hold the SE team accountable.
Understand the sales process
It’s imperative that your SEs have a clear and accurate understanding of the sales process as it relates to your particular business. There’s no point in assembling an SE org if it is going to operate outside of how your sales reps conduct business. Some questions to ask at this stage include:
- What are the sales processes?
- Where and how do SEs fit in?
- What’s the qualification process?
- What’s expected before SEs get involved?
- What’s the most effective ‘in’ with customers?
- How will the SEs support that?
Build a RACI matrix
The acronym RACI stands for responsible, accountable, consulted and informed. A huge part of structuring an SE org is clearly outlining the steps in the sales and delivery process. This further defines who will be involved in each step and in what capacity. Developing a RACI can be challenging, but it’s important because it eliminates ambiguity and confusion and ensures total alignment with the rest of the organization.
Take every opportunity you have to meet with others within the organization – from sales managers and directors to individual sales reps – both in group settings as well as one-on-one. The goal of these meetings should be to evangelize your new SE team and educate others on their role, mission and skills.
Start small and celebrate wins
Once up and running, remember to take a few moments and acknowledge your team’s successes – however small and seemingly insignificant they may be. Some of the most successful SE orgs began with limited resources. Understand that growing your SE team may take time, but the ultimate benefits to the customer and to the organization as a whole will be well worth it in the end.
Looking to start or grow your SE team? We’ve got the perfect candidates for you! Contact us today to learn more.