In an increasingly tech-driven market, the role of sales engineers (also known as pre-sales or technical sales) can be pretty valuable in a sales process. SE's offer the technical expertise and depth of knowledge required to help customers wrap minds around the complexities of your products and services, which is especially important in more technical sales. This in-depth understanding helps customers to make more informed decisions, boosting sales efficiency, lifting the parts of the technical burden of Sales (think Account Executives) and increases overall utilisation of your teams through helping them focus on work that's more target to their roles. Lets take a more detailed look into role that Sales Engineers / Pre Sales play, as well as the strategies that businesses can implement to bolster their sales effectiveness..
The Role of a Sales Engineer: Bridging the Gap Between Technical Complexity and Business Value
In many organisations, sales teams struggle to translate the technical aspects of products into language that customers understand. This gap often leads to lost sales opportunities and reduced sales effectiveness. Sales engineers bridge this divide, transforming complex technicalities into clear business benefits. As companies increasingly offer high-tech solutions, the role of the sales engineer becomes ever more crucial.
In some environments the product breadth can be so broad that it's simply impossible for sales to have a detailed understanding of all the ins and outs, without needing years of experience within the business. This becomes even more problematic in fast growth businesses, or ones with high attrition, as the experience floor can be sat below what is actually needed to sell effectively.
This is where sales engineers come in - Plugging the technical gaps leaving sales to focus on deal flow & opportunity nurturing, with more technical heads there to help educate prospects on product need & fit.
How Sales Engineers Can Boost Sales Effectiveness and Utilisation
1. Providing Technical Expertise
Sales engineers possess a profound understanding of the products or services their company offers, often at a level similar to post-sale implementation teams. By leveraging them throughout the sales process, businesses can provide a more complete and robust sales presentation, enabling customers to understand the real value in what is being offered.
2. Building Credibility and Trust
Trust is an essential factor in sales effectiveness, and the technical expertise of sales engineers often makes them more credible in the eyes of customers, which can help foster trust and ultimately lead to successful sales.
3. Collaborative Problem-Solving
Sales engineers aren't just product experts—they're also problem solvers. They work with customers & sales executives to identify their challenges and propose solutions that align with their needs. This collaborative approach can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, both of which enhance sales effectiveness.
Sales Engineers: Sales or Customer Success?
The positioning of sales engineers within an organizational structure often sparks debate. Should they report to Sales or Customer Success? Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, particularly concerning alignment with sales objectives and the effectiveness of sales handover processes to implementation teams.
Reporting to Sales
When sales engineers report directly to the Sales department, they work closely with account executives and have a clear understanding of the sales objectives. This closeness enables them to better tailor their technical demonstrations to match the sales strategy and helps the entire team stay aligned on common goals.
Because sales engineers in this setup are intimately involved in the sales process, they can provide comprehensive and accurate information to the implementation teams during the sales-to-service handover. This thorough knowledge transfer can significantly enhance the effectiveness of the implementation process.
A potential drawback is that the sales engineers might be seen too much as salespeople by the customer. This perception could lead to a loss of perceived objectivity and trust, diminishing the unique role of sales engineers in the eyes of customers.
Reporting to Customer Success
Having sales engineers under the Customer Success umbrella can bring about a stronger focus on long-term customer satisfaction and relationship-building. The sales engineer’s role is perceived as more consultative, enhancing the trust and credibility of their technical advice.
With a direct line to the Customer Success team, sales engineers are better positioned to ensure smooth handovers to the implementation teams. They can help maintain continuity of customer experience, keeping in mind the long-term success of the customer, and not just the immediate sale.
A potential downside is that sales engineers may become somewhat distanced from the immediate sales objectives. There is a risk of misalignment with the Sales team, which could lead to inefficiencies in the sales process and possibly impact the closing of deals.
Striking a Balance
Where sales engineers should report is largely dependent on an organization's strategic goals, culture, and the nature of its products or services. The key is to strike a balance that allows sales engineers to leverage their unique skills effectively, contributing both to immediate sales objectives and long-term customer success.
A hybrid model could also be considered, where sales engineers are co-managed by Sales and Customer Success. This structure allows them to maintain a strong link to sales objectives while also focusing on ensuring long-term customer satisfaction. By navigating the balance delicately, organizations can optimize the contribution of sales engineers to both sales effectiveness and customer success.
Reducing Sales Complexity: A Path to Increased Deal Flow
Sales engineers, with their technical expertise and ability to simplify complex products or services, are naturally invaluable assets to account executives. By clarifying and reducing the complexity of sales, they not only improve the likelihood of closing a deal but also increase the number of deals that an account executive can handle. Let's break this down further:
Streamlining the Sales Process
Understanding the technical aspects of a product or service can often be a daunting task for customers, especially when there's multiple non-technical stakeholders involved on the customer side. It's even more challenging when these complexities need to be quickly understood to make a purchasing decision, and this is where the sales engineer steps in. By simplifying the product details into understandable benefits, and structuring the technical buying assessment, the sales process becomes less complex and more straightforward, enabling the account executive to manage more deals concurrently.
Accelerating Sales Cycle
A sales engineer can also play a significant role in shortening the sales cycle. By promptly addressing any technical questions or concerns from the prospect, the sales engineer helps accelerate the decision-making process, resulting in quicker deal closures. This efficiency allows account executives to move on to the next potential sale faster, thus increasing the number of deals they can manage.
Boosting Customer Confidence
The presence of a sales engineer in the sales process can significantly increase a customer's confidence in the product or service being offered - When customers feel confident and have a clear understanding of the product or service, the likelihood of them proceeding with the purchase is much higher leading to increased conversion rates which ultimately allow the account executives to manage a higher number of successful deals.
In technical businesses with complex sales, sales engineers can be an essential backbone of technical sales. They bridge the gap between complex product features and tangible business benefits, and become an additional trusted advisor in the sale. By leveraging their unique skills and expertise, businesses can significantly enhance their sales effectiveness and utilisation.
Sales complexity can have a huge impact on the effectiveness & efficiency of sales teams, and we believe there's a real science behind revenue that should be understood by all.
We're unpacking how that science impacts capacity planning, making it easier for leaders to build more predictable & efficient businesses through more accessible approaches to planning.
Q: What is the role of a sales engineer in the sales process?
A: Sales engineers bring technical expertise to the sales process. They help translate complex product features into understandable benefits for customers, fostering trust and credibility, which ultimately can lead to successful sales.
Q: How does a sales engineer increase sales effectiveness?
A: Sales engineers can increase sales effectiveness by providing technical expertise, building credibility with customers, collaborating on problem-solving with customers, and reducing the complexity of sales. These actions often lead to improved customer satisfaction, loyalty, and an increase in the number of deals that an account executive can manage.
Q: Should sales engineers report to Sales or Customer Success?
A: This depends largely on the organization's strategic goals and culture. Reporting to Sales often aligns them closely with sales objectives and may enhance the sales-to-service handover process. Reporting to Customer Success, on the other hand, can strengthen long-term customer relationship-building. Some organizations may even opt for a hybrid model.
Q: How can sales engineers reduce the complexity of a sale?
A: Sales engineers have a deep understanding of the product or service. This knowledge allows them to simplify complex technicalities, making it easier for the customer to comprehend the value offered. This reduction in complexity can streamline the sales process and accelerate the sales cycle, increasing the number of deals an account executive can handle.