There are a wide variety of products and services in different industries, but the techniques applied to sell these solutions must also be different. Thanks to advances in technology, some of these products are now incredibly complex and require advanced study and knowledge of functionalities in order to present them correctly to prospects.
While a traditional salesperson can handle selling complex products, having someone with a deeper technical understanding of the solution to help close the deal can be a good sales move. This person is what we call a Sales Engineer!
What Does a Sales Engineer Do?
A Sales Engineer is a B2B (business-to-business) specialist who focuses on selling complex technical products and services. This type of professional needs to have a broad and deep knowledge of the technical aspects of the solutions so they can explain concepts and features very well, and sell their benefits to potential customers.
But a Sales Engineer does more than sell. They need to study in depth how a specific product will technically work in the customer's routine, and do market and development research to help create better products that meet the specific needs of the target.
They also offer technical assistance to the prospect, which can help close sales faster. Some of the daily tasks for Sales Engineers include:
- Develop technical presentations of the solutions for the prospect's team
- Work with other salespeople and customer service to support them through every stage of the sales funnel
- Generate new technical leads through direct prospecting and follow-ups, directing the closing of the sale
- Help achieve company sales goals
- Analyze customer's feedback to identify trends and new strategies to make better sales
What is the routine of a Sales Engineer like?
A Sales Engineer's job starts with taking important time to learn about the product or service, and stay informed about its updates and bug corrections. This is important because a Sales Engineer needs to adequately demonstrate how a product can solve the customer's complex problems.
In addition, the Sales Engineer will often participate in other company actions, such as events in his sector and conferences to make contacts and promote the product or service. When a company sells a complex product, it is usually necessary to have presentations about the benefits at several niche events.
Sales Engineers also need to do data and sales analysis and prepare reports for senior managers to review. They may also need to participate in processes surrounding sales support to better understand customer's bugs, demands, and queries.
Do I need a Sales Engineer on my team?
The simple answer is: it depends.
Below, we described 4 reasons that indicate the need for a Sales Engineer on your team:
1. Your business sells a very technical product or service
Many products can be categorized as "technical" - from more traditional SaaS solutions, to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning platforms.
If as part of your sales pitch you need to adopt terms such as API, Hybrid Solutions, Cloud, VPN, VPC, etc., it is very likely that you are selling a technical product.
If you understand that many of your sales meetings are with CTOs, engineers, or developers, you're probably selling a technical product.
If your salesperson knows about the product or service he sells but struggles to understand how it works, you're probably selling a technical product.
In these cases, the answer is yes: you need a Sales Engineer as part of your team.
Now, if your product is simpler, like a “plug and play”, where you simply grant access, assign a login and password, then there is often no need for this professional on your team.
2. Your product needs to go through the integration phase to be used
Today, many SaaS products perform even better if they integrate well, turning a good solution into an amazing solution. In these cases, there is a need for more technical minds to talk to your client and facilitate this process, as integrating one tool with another, even if it is simple, can confuse your prospect's mind if it is not well explained.
When it comes to integrations, the Sales Engineer must know about more traditional integrations, to the most recent and, of course, the best that your organization offers for the customer scenario.
They should provide a high-level overview for a large group of people or for specific professionals within technical teams, such as IT teams.
3. Your product needs data migration
Helping customers migrate data from the previous provider to your solution is essential to be able to sell software, for example. Sometimes data migrations are as “simple” as a quick export/import; other times they are more complex and specific. That's where a Sales Engineer enters the game.
A large number of businesses have little maturity about their data, so it is the role of the hired company to address this topic and act with caution about customer's data. This will ensure more trust and more deal closures.
4. Your sales cycles are stagnant due to the lack of a professional with more experience
Most salespeople don't come from technical areas. They studied (or study) different areas, but the minority came from areas like engineering or IT, for example.
In this way, in a conversation with a CTO, a traditional salesperson can feel an abyss in communication, hindering the negotiation as a whole by adopting phrases such as “I will check this matter and get back to you shortly” or “I am almost sure that we can do that, but let me check with tech first."
In this case, yes, you will also need a Sales Engineer as part of your team so you don't lose authority with your lead.
If your sales meetings and calls don't have to get deep in technology talk, then you probably don't need a Sales Engineer.
How to hire a Sales Engineer?
Well, this is not an easy position to hire. You will need someone who is technical, with development knowledge (or at least someone who is comfortable with this aspect), but who enjoys communicating and interacting with people. Usually in these cases one skill excludes the other.
Therefore, the desire to work closely with developers, salespeople and future customers is a must.
This role would suit a developer who wants to put their technical skills to use but doesn't want to write lines of code all day.
Is also required a strong communication skills, both written and verbal, and a keen ability to understand customer pain points. This role also requires leadership qualities to build trust, and deep problem-solving skills.
This role is likely to suit developers who have previously worked with clients or as a freelancer, and any other role where talking with external stakeholders is part of the routine.
Some questions you can ask in the selection process are:
1. How would you explain the benefits of using product [X] compared to a competitor's service?
2. How would you proceed if a customer had a technical problem, but none of your advice worked?
3. A key prospect requests a feature that we don't currently offer. Who would you contact and how would you respond?
4. What do you know about our products?
5. Who do you think our customers are?
6. What software or technology do you consider useful for your work? Why and how does it work?
7. How do you work so that your audience understands complex technical terms?
8. What is the biggest challenge you've faced in communicating technical details? How did you get over it?
9. Describe a successful sales project you worked on. Who did you work with, and what was your contribution to the success?
Sales: more technical than ever!
The Sales Engineer's work brings together business studies, technical knowledge and customer service. The result is a dynamic profession that is as demanding as it is rewarding for both the employee and the company.
Therefore, if you want your sales to reach another level, hiring a Sales Engineer can be an excellent decision.