For years, all there were about the land were Sales Engineers. Unfortunately, almost everyone got the role wrong and figured they were Sales Reps that knew how to explain the product/services. Wrong. I’ve written about this often here, and it is just as wrong now as it was then.
Today, sales teams selling high end software are comprised of specialists. Things are too complex, and the roles too diverse from one another to try to mangle them all into one person. The Rep (or whatever your culture calls them) gets the appointment, either by calling/emailing themselves, or waiting for a campaign (either Acquisition or Retention) to provide them with the opportunity.
Depending, the Rep might even plug in numbers into a proposal generator, and present it for signing at closing. These days, though, the Sales Engineer is being relied on to qualify the opportunities with the Reps. Qualification, in Pat’s world, requires 4-1/2 things:
1. The Customer Knows What they Are Buying.
They understand the solution, agree that it is what they need, and like the solution within which our stuff plugs in. This may sound silly, but it is vital. Remember, DSOs (Discrete Sales Opportunities) come in two flavors:
1. They Have Something They Don’t Want (Solve a Problem)
2. They Want Something They Don’t Have (Create Opportunity)
2. We Have Access to the Buyer.
We are meeting with, taling to, and solving problems for, the buyer. If we are still talking to lackeys, gate keepers, and their layers/levels of qualification, we are not talking to the buyer.
3. The Have the Budget.
An old saying goes “Only sell to folks that have money”. There is an endless stream of useless people at any prospect that will let you buy them lunch.
4. There is Date Related Motivation.
Something will happen at a certain date. Something Bad(TM) will happen if the prospect does nothing.
4-1/2. An Identified Project Exists Where Our Stuff Plugs In.
So remember, there are only Sales Engineers, and Engineers. Post-Sales is considered fulfillment, while Pre-Sales is considered either Acquisition or Retention. Engineers work on all kinds of things, some of which is considered after the sale was made.
[Pre-] Sales Engineers impact = Top Line
Engineers impact = Bottom Line