Sales engineer career path #1: Post-sales consultant

October 31, 2017 § 1 Comment

As I’ve been writing about for years, sales engineering is an intellectually stimulating, challenging, and financially rewarding career. Despite that, it’s natural for talented sales engineers to periodically evaluate the next step on their journey. In this post (which is part of a larger series of posts dedicated to progressing on from the sales engineering role) I’ll briefly describe the transition from sales engineer to post-sales consultant.

The most successful sales engineers tend to have strong technical skills. and some of these professionals elect to become post-sales consultants, either for the vendor or a third-party consultancy. I define this role as people who are responsible for deploying a complex technical product or service. By the way: it’s also quite common for post-sales consultants to become sales engineers, so it’s a two-way street!

Here are some of the most notable advantages and drawbacks for a sales engineer becoming a post-sales consultant:

Advantages

  • Gain much stronger technical expertise
  • Help drive a product deployment all the way to production
  • Offer deeper insights into actual product/service usage
  • Uncover opportunities to develop a separate business of  your own

Drawbacks

  • Possibility of a failed engagement: often through circumstances beyond your control!
  • Lengthy projects, commonly involving extensive, long-term travel
  • Lower compensation: commission (if even offered) is generally much less for consultants
  • Pressure to deliver enough billable hours

Is this the right move for you? The answer is generally ‘yes’ if you feel unsatisfied with short engagements that you can’t see through to conclusion, and you want to build your technical skills. On the other hand, this isn’t a good move for you if you don’t like open-ended projects, considerable travel, or are motivated by money.

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