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Sales engineering goes by many names. Field consultants. Technical account managers. Product managers. Product advisors. The list goes on and on.
Whatever specific professional title you want to assign to this sale position, it is a pivotal point of view for any organization. And in reality, it is somewhat of an art form.
Sure, there’s a science behind successful sales engineering, but methodology will only get you so far. To be truly great at pre-sales, you have to invest time and energy into the business, the technology and yourself.
What is a Sales Engineer?
Let’s begin by defining the role of a sales engineer. According to some specialized websites:
“Pre-Sales Engineers (PSEs) and Sales Engineers (SEs) are the technical glue of a technical sale… They perform technical presentations for the product. They own the demonstration script for the product.”
It’s imperative that one understands the fundamental differences between a SE and a salesperson. There are typically two paths that lead to a career as an SE: someone who starts as a technician and moves into sales or someone who starts as a salesperson and transitions into a more technical role.
Regardless of what the roots happen to be, studies have shown that organizations with strong sales engineering professionals boast higher win rates. Furthermore, research also indicates that deal renewals are fewer in the absence of pre-sales activities.
How do SEs fit into the modern organization?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as to what activities a SE might perform for a given employer. In general, however, there are certain commonalities that can be found across most job descriptions. The role is typically based on a foundation of the following key responsibilities:
- Proactively sources technical solutions in order to address customer requirements
- Routinely evaluates customer needs (both met and unmet)
- Recommends solutions that optimize value for both the customer and the company
- Gathers input from all necessary avenues
- Implements and adapts solutions as necessary to ensure optimal support
- Identifies potential leads
Perhaps sales expert Joe Onisick said it best when he outlined the SE role using the acronym IDEA, which stands for:
- Identify audience needs, requirements and pain points
- Design an appropriate solution
- Evangelize that proposed solution in a way that is compelling
- Adjust the approach as needed based on ongoing evaluation of results
The Art of Pre-Sales in Practice
Just like any art, sales engineering must be practiced in order for it to make an impact. SEs must study the product or service they are selling, develop and hone effective presentation skills and consistently work on improving communication.
Ultimately, pre-sales is just like any other skillset. It must be regularly practiced and improved upon. It’s an art form that doesn’t come overnight, but must be developed over time. And as with any art form, you’re never as good as you could potentially become. The more you commit to strengthening your skills, the more value you will bring to your customers, your team, your employer and yourself.
Interested in exploring a career opportunity as a SE? Perhaps you are a manager looking to build a team of successful sales engineers. In either case, we can help. Get in touch today!