Winning sales engineer trait #1: A competitive spirit

December 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’ve spent many years working as a sales engineer (SE) and then later leading sales engineering teams. Throughout my career, I’ve observed seven personality traits that separate the run-of-the-mill SE from the superstar. Since SEs are the great unsung heroes of the sales process, you definitely want to staff the best-of-the-best for this critical position. In this installment, I discuss why the most effective SEs possess an unyielding but properly targeted competitive spirit.

In a crowded market, the technical sales process is cutthroat: every deal is a brawl. Even though sales commission is typically only a small percentage of their overall compensation, the ideal SE takes a deep, personal interest in winning. This translates into a willingness to do whatever it takes to demonstrate the technical superiority of your offering. This might mean late nights configuring your solution or answering RFPs under tight deadline pressure. It also likely includes providing ad-hoc training to potential users and impressing executives of the need to choose your technology.

Unfortunately, I’ve encountered many SEs that are either too relaxed (“Why should I knock myself out? The product sells itself!”) or too competitive with their peers (“Why does that sales rep make twice what I do when I did all the hard technical stuff to win the deal?”). Incidentally, as an SE manager I found it easier to motivate the tranquil folks to step it up a bit than to get the SEs with commission envy to focus on their jobs.

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