February 28, 2019 Comments Off on Bad Sales Engineer Behavior #7: Unreliability
At last, we’ve arrived at the final entry on the list of seven Sales Engineer (SE) behaviors that will cripple your career: unreliability. By definition, lots of things can go wrong in sales opportunities. As an SE, one of your key responsibilities is to do your part to bring a degree of predictability to what is frequently a chaotic process. The best way you can go about this is to simply show up and do your job to the best of your abilities. But in the years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen quite a few undesirable traits that I’ll lump into the ‘unreliability’ category. Here are just a few examples:
- Arriving late – or not at all – for sales calls & meetings. Want to raise your sales rep’s blood pressure? Here’s an easy way – just show up later than anticipated for a sales call. Even better: don’t even bother coming, and certainly don’t call or email to alert them and explain why.
- Being unprepared for demos. When carrying out a technical demonstration, ‘winging it’ is a sure recipe for failure. After all, there are so many moving parts and potential points of failure, such as buggy technology, version mismatches, ignoring customer requirements, and so on.
- Not following through with technical responses. It’s a rare technical meeting that doesn’t end up with some research for the SE to go carry out. But in many cases, the SE gets caught up in other activities and never gets around to answering the questions. This is understandable, given that SEs confront lots of other responsibilities. Additionally, “out of sight, out of mind” can be a factor here. Don’t forget, however, that the customer doesn’t share your workload, and may be eagerly awaiting your answers.
If any of these deficiencies hit too close to home, it’s easy to correct them: just focus on improving your follow-through, and people will soon forget your old, unreliable ways. You’ll also probably find work more enjoyable too, since you’ve eliminated a major stressor.
December 20, 2016 Comments Off on Seven attractive career paths for sales engineers
Whether you label it sales engineering, sales consulting, or simply pre-sales, supplying technical guidance during the sales process for highly complex goods and services can be a lucrative, intellectually stimulating career.
Many people happily spend decades working as sales engineers: I’ve met plenty of contented – and very well compensated – sales engineers (SEs) in their sixties who first took on this role in their twenties! On the other, lots of SEs view the job as a stepping stone on the path to other responsibilities – in their own organization or in other companies.
As I’ve depicted elsewhere, the most successful SEs are masters of blending technical and selling skills, which makes them highly desirable candidates for all sorts of different jobs. In this series of posts, I’ll be describing the advantages and drawbacks for some of the most attractive career paths available to sales engineers. Here’s a brief list of those alternatives:
- Post sales technical consulting
- Product development
- Technical support
- Customer success
- Client-side jobs
And since there are plenty of opportunities for SEs to advance within the sales engineering organization itself, I’ll write about that too.
If you’re interested in being notified of future editions, subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter: @RD_Schneider. You can read other sales engineering-related posts here.
September 30, 2015 Comments Off on Overcoming a Technical Sales Ambush Best Practice #1: Include the Sales Representative
As I recently depicted, a technical sales ambush is a scenario where a prospect convenes a technically focused “review” meeting with the hidden purpose of introducing impossible or unreasonable requirements that end up monkey wrenching the entire sale.
While ambushes can’t be totally avoided, their outcomes can be ameliorated through proper preparation. For example, sales representatives – at least those that are making or exceeding quota – are masters of interpersonal relationships and reading between the lines. I’ve found that the best reps can instantly sniff out an ambush or other situation where the prospect’s technical experts are not acting in their employer’s best interest, and are advancing their own private agendas instead.
A proactive sales representative will quickly take steps to stop an ambush in its tracks. This can include entirely rejecting the meeting without adequate representation from the business, or demanding a quid-pro-quo about what happens after the meeting (like setting up a proof-of-concept).
One of the most important things a rep can do is simply make sure that they’re part of the meeting: a sales engineer (SE) should never face this type of audience alone, especially when it appears that an ambush might be in the cards. Having the sales rep present frees up the SE to focus on making a good faith effort to address all technical questions, while strengthening the case that the vendor is making to the prospect.